A rousing forum, a hollow tax giveaway, an unhealthy proposal: News from Policy Matters
Posted August 17, 2016 in eNews
– Panelists from diverse backgrounds and an enthusiastic audience gathered July 18 to kick off the Republican National Convention with a conversation about poverty at Cleveland State University. Policy Matters, partnered with Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity and CSU to talk about how federal policy can create opportunity and provide pathways out of poverty. The event drew about 200 people, including terrific speakers John Corlett, Colleen Cotter, Baldemar Velasquez, Ronnie Dunn, Jimmy Kemp and Jim McLaughlin. Our Executive Director, Amy Hanauer, moderated the panel, along with CNN political editor Juana Summers. Check out Spotlight’s recap of the Cleveland forum and a similar forum during the DNC in Philadelphia.
Busy week -- During that week of policy focus, we also had Zach Schiller speak at the Cleveland Public Library about who’s been left out in Cleveland, Daniel Ortiz be part of a panel on what women want from public policy (Amy, Amanda, Cynthia, Hannah, Kalitha and Wendy all gave him ideas!), Amy moderate a talk at Transformer Station on the intersection of art and politics, and Amy and Daniel each participate in a "dialogue den" organized by artists. These were just some of the amazing conversations that Cleveland’s vigorous activist, advocate, artistic and policy community launched for the Republican delegates.
Not so healthy – Policy Matters and many others have told the federal government that proposed changes to Ohio’s Medicaid program would endanger access to health care for hundreds of thousands of Ohioans and reverse progress on expanding health care. Ohio lawmakers are asking the federal government for permission to impose premiums and some higher co-pays on Medicaid enrollees. Under the misnamed “Healthy Ohio” proposal, enrollees who can’t afford health insurance could be kicked off of Medicaid if they don’t pay these new premiums, which we already know they can’t afford. In other places, that’s led to health declines. Our Wendy Patton urged the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to deny Ohio’s request.
Tax gimmick – Last weekend was a much-ballyhooed sales tax “holiday” for the purchase of back-to-school items. While it might sound good, this gimmick is a poorly targeted policy that isn’t the best way to reduce a tax that falls more heavily on lower-income Ohioans, Zach Schiller wrote. It’s a costly tax giveaway – the largest of $43 million in new tax cuts -- that doesn’t help the state’s economy. That money could be better used to pay for needs such as public preschool and college aid.
Still playing catch up – Our latest jobs report shows that Ohio’s overall job growth rate since the official start of the recession in December 2007 is only 1.4 percent, considerably lower than the national average of 4.2 percent. “Ohio’s post-recession strategy of underinvesting in public services in order to cut taxes for the wealthiest has not produced the robust job growth promised by austerity advocates,” our workforce researcher Hannah Halbert wrote. “The recovery has been slow and shallow, with many communities being left behind.”
Welcome! – Join us in giving a happy welcome to Victoria Jackson, our new state policy fellow focused on education and fiscal policy. Victoria, who holds a bachelor’s degree in Pan-African Studies from Kent State University and a master’s of public administration from The Ohio State University is one of eight fellows selected nationally through a highly competitive process by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “Victoria is a thoughtful, thorough analyst who brings a quiet intensity to her work,” said Amy Hanauer. “She understands that well-designed public policy can increase opportunity, improve equity, and advance a better Ohio. We can’t wait to see how she executes that vision.”
In the news: The New Yorker interviewed our summer intern Brandon McGhee about his thoughts on The American Dream, for a video during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Check out the video here. The interview followed a panel called The American Dream: A Symposium at the Intersection of Art and Politics, moderated by Amy Hanauer… The New York Times quoted our Kalitha Williams about how the payday lending industry has run amok in Ohio.… Wendy Patton penned an op-ed on Cleveland.com calling on Ohio to do a better job ensuring that home health workers are fairly paid and covered under federal wage and hour protections…. The Huffington Post, reporting on Cleveland’s economy, called on Amy Hanauer, who explained that many good-paying factory jobs have been replaced by lower-wage jobs with inferior benefits for people with limited formal education.