Tax inequity, job growth and a Medicaid setback: News from Policy Matters
Posted April 29, 2016 in eNews
A roundup of happenings at Policy Matters Ohio...Saturday night live –
When the Federal Reserve Bank raises interest rates, it often means hiring goes down, wages grow more slowly, and unemployment goes up. There are times when doing so still makes sense but is now one of them? Come to an event next Saturday night (yes, we know) to tell a top decision-maker at the Federal Reserve what you think about them putting the brakes on hiring and wage growth right now.
Upside down tax system -- Ohioans in the bottom fifth of the income scale last year paid about twice the share of their income in state and local taxes as the richest 1 percent. That cold, hard fact provided by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy shows that the wealthiest Ohioans are not paying enough to support public services. Our Wendy Patton highlighted the inequity in a recent blog post. Wendy noted the tax system is already stacked against low- and middle-income people and would become even more so under plans to turn the state income tax into a flat tax.
A public health threat – The so-called “Healthy Ohio” plan – our lawmakers’ attempt to impose premiums on more than 1.2 million low-income adults enrolled in Medicaid – would be a blow to both patients and medical providers that have benefitted under Medicaid expansion. Wendy Patton and many other advocates are urging the federal government to deny Ohio’s request to change the Medicaid rules. Wendy testified to a Medicaid advisory panel this month that imposing premiums and penalties for those who miss payments would cause thousands to lose their health care and hurt the financial stability of hospitals.
Employment picture brightens – Ohio is off to a fairly strong 2016 in job growth but we still lag the nation in job creation. Ohio’s 12-month job growth rate of 1.8 percent was only slightly below the U.S. average of 2 percent, according to the latest report by Hannah Halbert. But since the official start of the recession in December 2007, Ohio has grown by less than half of the national average of 3.9 percent. The bottom line is our tax and budget policies have not created promised job growth, Hannah said.
Tax breaks run amok – Research Director Zach Schiller’s penchant for sniffing out dubious tax breaks led him to this stinker: A bill that would exempt the sale of collector coins and precious metals from state sales tax. Even Gov. Kasich said there’s no justification for such preferential treatment (Kasich vetoed a similar provision in the 2013 budget bill). Zach, in testimony, called on lawmakers to ditch the legislation, which would cost the state millions in revenue needed for public services.
Welcome aboard! – We are thrilled to have Daniel Ortiz join the Policy Matters team as our new outreach coordinator. Daniel is originally from Lorain, Ohio, and holds a bachelor’s degree in religion and Latin American studies from Oberlin College. He spent the better part of 11 years working on campaigns and teaching, and brings phenomenal passion for social justice and a diverse set of skills to Policy Matters.
Spreading the message – Our Executive Director Amy Hanauer has been invited to lead discussion on public policy and advocacy at the Ohio Nonprofit Conference and Excellence Awards May 3 in Columbus. Amy will lead a session on the role of public policy in creating the kind of state nonprofits need to succeed.
In the news – Our Hannah Halbert’s in-depth report on the collapse of Ohio’s GED system inspired a hard-hitting Cleveland.com op-ed linking the state’s GED debacle to Cleveland’s abysmal ranking as the most economically distressed big city in the nation…. An Akron Beacon Journal/Ohio.com editorial called out Ohio lawmakers for failing to scrutinize close to $9 billion in tax breaks, based on the work of our Zach Schiller. “Republicans in charge at the Statehouse are not as vigilant in protecting taxpayer money as they like to contend,” the editorial said… Wendy Patton’s analysis of proposed Medicaid changes drew attention from Dayton Daily News and The Columbus Dispatch, which noted that thousands of low-income Ohioans could lose health care under the misguided proposal.