A broken GED, tax breaks run amok, a fracking injustice: News from Policy Matters
Posted March 11, 2016 in eNews
A roundup of happenings at Policy Matters Ohio...Epic fail
-- After the world’s largest private, for-profit education corporation took-over the high school equivalency test known as the GED, the number of Ohioans attempting and passing the exam has plummeted. Our workforce researcher Hannah Halbert detailed the shocking numbers in a recent report: The number of Ohioans passing the test plunged by 85 percent from 2009 to 2013, after Ohio handed the reins to PearsonVUE. The upshot is that 22,000 fewer Ohioans earned an equivalency degree than would have had we kept the normal pace. The collapse not only hurts Ohioans trying to get ahead, it hurts employers looking for qualified candidates.
No strings attached – Ohio lawmakers more readily spend state revenue on tax breaks than on vital public services: State giveaways will grow to nearly $9 billion by 2017, and with little accountability, Wendy Patton and Zach Schiller say in a recent report. The Santa Claus act is long overdue for reform. Ohio should go much further to review tax breaks, some of which date back decades. “Ohio spends as much on tax breaks as it spends in the operating budget on K-12 education,” Wendy said. “Without review, nobody knows if these tax breaks are still economically useful.”
Tax the fracks – Ohio has given the oil and gas industry a five-year run in the shale boom with virtually no severance tax. Wendy writes in a recent blog post that slumping oil prices are a reminder of industry’s boom and bust cycles – and that Ohio needs an adequate severance tax to pay for the costs of rapid development and to cushion the economic fallout of the inevitable bust. Ohio’s severance tax on oil and gas remains one of the lowest among producing states.
JobWatch -- Revised jobs data shows that despite Gov. Kasich’s pronouncements of Ohio’s flourishing job growth, the state is not even average. The new data shows that 2014 was a better year for job growth than previously reported, but in 2015 the state was in retreat, Hannah’s latest jobs report says. And January’s numbers suggest we are off to a sluggish 2016. The revisions, which are performed annually, put Ohio’s 12-month job growth rate at 1.5 percent, compared to the national average of 1.9 percent.
#Honored – We are proud of our Development Manager Cynthia Connolly, who has been named a winner of the 2016 Northeast Ohio Movers & Shakers Award. The Cleveland Professional Twenty-Thirty Club gives the award to 25 professionals under age 35.
In the news: Our Executive Director Amy Hanauer appeared on WCPN’s The Sound of Ideas to discuss a new report showing Cleveland is the nation’s most economically distressed big city…. Public radio stations WYSO and WKSU aired reports on our call for an increased severance tax on fracking… our tax breaks report also garnered strong coverage on public radio, while Cleveland’s Scene magazine highlighted our report about Ohio’s failing GED system. Amy, Zach and Wendy have also been busy fielding national media inquiries about Gov. Kasich’s record on the economy. Outlets are turning to Policy Matters for the real Ohio story!