News from Policy Matters: Deforming the tax code
Posted October 28, 2017 in eNews
Tax (de)form moves forward: President Trump and Congressional Republicans are selling us a bill of goods – claiming their plan to overhaul the tax code will spur economic growth and help the middle class. But their plan skews heavily to the wealthy and corporations and paves the way for the slashing of important programs like food aid, Pell Grants and Medicaid. And deductions you might depend on, like the State and Local Income Tax (SALT) are at risk. That’s not reforming the tax code, that’s deforming it. Our Wendy Patton explained how the plan would hurt most everyday Ohioans. The process isn’t over yet, Republicans say they want their $1.5 trillion tax cut passed by December. There’s still time to call or email your members of Congress and voice your displeasure.
Eye on Columbus: With so much happening in Washington, D.C. it can be easy to forget that lawmakers in Columbus are also making decisions that affect our lives — and some not for the better. But Research Director Zach Schiller never forgets, and he’s been carefully scrutinizing bills that would further benefit the wealthy at the expense of the rest of us. This week Zach submitted testimony about residency requirements that allow “Florida snowbirds” to avoid paying income tax. He called on legislators to change the law so that anyone living in Ohio 183 days or more pays income tax. Zach also testified against a bill that would expand the “passthrough tax loophole” that costs Ohio $1 billion a year without spurring job creation. Finally, Zach continues to bang the drum on unemployment compensation reform – pushing for a bill that works for workers.
Budget Bites: Over the last two weeks we took a hard look at Ohio’s 2018-2019 budget. We applauded lawmakers for the concerted and coordinated efforts they made to steer more resources to stem the drug crisis. They increased funding for the department of mental health and addiction services by 16.4 percent and funding for children’s services by 36.8 percent. Other protective services for adults and seniors didn’t fare as well. Alternatives to incarceration received more funding in the state budget: Community-based correctional services that include drug treatment and rehabilitation went up by 10 percent. But Medicaid, one of Ohio’s most important tools in providing access to treatment for people struggling with addiction, faces several threats, such as a potential freeze on enrollment for Medicaid expansion, work requirements and new premiums for enrollees. Part of the problem with Ohio’s response to the drug crisis is that it doesn’t provide much new revenue to address it. Instead it diverts money from other sources such as the Local Government Fund. Local Governments also lose out in this budget due to changes in the state tax base, as do public transit agencies. Together, they will lose nearly $200 million a year after the budget period ends.
Out and about: Executive Director Amy Hanauer faced off against “So Called Right to Work” supporters at the Ohio Economic Development Forum. She also moderated a panel on race and class at the Economic Analysis and Research Network Conference in Arizona. Wendy joined others for a panel on the state’s response to the drug epidemic at a forum hosted by Ohio District Indivisible 15. Victoria Jackson gave the keynote address at Eastern Ohio Education Partnership’s 2017 Excellence in Education Awards.
Coming up: On November 3, Amy will join other experts for a City Club discussion of former Cleveland Mayor Carl B. Stokes’ policy legacy. Be sure to register. Researchers Victoria Jackson and Michael Shields will be featured speakers at the 2nd Annual Ohio Urban Resources System Conference on November 2 and 3 in Columbus. Register here.