by German Lopez
64 days ago
Kasich tax plan criticized, JobsOhio records due today, workers demand prevailing wage
The Ohio House is looking to rewrite
parts of Gov. John Kasich’s budget proposal after dissent has focused
on the governor’s tax plan. The chamber’s leaders are looking to set
aside the tax plan from the bill so they can better focus on other
complicated parts of the budget, including the Medicaid expansion and
school funding. Even without the governor’s controversial sales tax
expansion plan, Kasich’s budget proposal contains enough leftover money
to pass some income tax cuts, with about $280.4 million in general
revenue available for fiscal year 2014 and $690.2 million available in
fiscal year 2015, according to an analysis in the Bluebook. CityBeat covered Kasich’s budget proposal in further detail here.
State Auditor Dave Yost says he expects to get the subpoenaed financial records from JobsOhio
today by the noon deadline, even though the audit has come under
criticism from Gov. Kasich and other state officials. Yost says he
should be allowed to look into JobsOhio’s full financial records, which
include private funds, but Kasich and other Republicans argue only
public funds are open to audit. JobsOhio is a publicly funded nonprofit,
privatized development agency that was set up by Kasich and Republican legislators to eventually replace the Ohio Department of Development,
which is susceptible to a full audit.
Workers for the $78 million U Square project near the University of Cincinnati allege they are being underpaid.
In a lawsuit, union workers are claiming they should be paid prevailing
wage established in state law because the project is using public funds
and 50 percent owned by a public authority.
With the support of City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr., Cincinnati is now looking to cash into its innovative water technology
with the formation of the Global Water Technology Hub, which will use
expert advice to identify market needs and sell the technology. The city
promises the hub will also help keep water rates low for users and find
new revenue sources.
Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld will hold a press conference
today to introduce his Restoring Our Communities Initiative, which will
seek to fight blight and improve child safety in Cincinnati. The
initiative will include a push for the passage of Ohio Senate Bill 16, which
would make it so individuals are not liable for trespassing convictions
if the person is remediating blight on abandoned personal property. In a
statement, Sittenfeld explained the purpose of the initiative: “Blight
is a complicated issue that impacts many aspects of life, and I think
this plan helps attack the problem from several angles.”
Cincinnati Council’s Budget and Finance Committee unanimously approved $10,000
for the Westwood Square project, which will involve a larger facility
for the Madcap Theater, green space and changes to the neighborhood’s
entryways to better encourage community pride and economic development.
A new $20 million, seven-story apartment tower with 110 high-end apartments is being planned for Downtown, above the Seventh and Broadway Garage.
Two weeks in, Horseshoe Casino’s executive says the casino is doing well and turnout has been good.
A report found auto insurance rates in Ohio are “a bargain,” with the state having the fourth lowest costs among other states and Washington, D.C.
A machine keeps human livers alive outside a body for 24 hours, which could double the amount of livers available for transplant and save thousands of lives.
0 Comments · Wednesday, March 13, 2013
City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. gave a
presentation to City Council March 6 explaining how Cincinnati could
work to reduce its structural budget deficits.
by German Lopez
85 days ago
Previous cuts helped cause Cincinnati budget deficit
A new Policy Matters Ohio report found local government
funding has been reduced by $1.4 billion since Gov. John Kasich took
office, leading to a nearly 50-percent reduction in state funding.
The report found local government funding dropped from
nearly $3 billion in the 2010 and 2011 fiscal years — the years budgeted
by former Gov. Ted Strickland — to about $2.2 billion in the 2012 and
2013 fiscal years — the first two years budgeted by Kasich. The governor’s most recent budget proposal would ensure
the continuation of the downward slide, with local government funding
dropping down to slightly more than $1.5 billion in the 2014 and 2015 fiscal years, according to the
Policy Matters concluded new revenue from the state’s
casinos and an expanded sales tax would not be enough to outweigh cuts
in the Local Government Fund, utility tax reimbursements, tangible
personal property reimbursements and the termination of the estate tax. By itself, the estate tax, which was phased out at the beginning of 2013, would have provided $625.3 million to local governments in the 2014-2015 budget, but it was repealed
in 2011 by the Republican-controlled Ohio legislature and Kasich.
The governor’s office has repeatedly argued that the cuts in Kasich’s first budget
were necessary to help balance an $8 billion budget deficit, but the
Policy Matters report says improving economic conditions have removed a need
for further local government funding cuts: “To encourage growth we need
good schools, reliable public safety and emergency services and strong
communities. During hard times, state and local policy led to cuts. But
further cuts in appropriations for local government are not helping
communities. Curtailing local control of local revenues will complicate
recovery – as the economy improves, it is time to restore the fiscal
partnership between state and community.”
When presenting his 2013 budget proposal, City Manager Milton
Dohoney Jr. said the state funding reductions cost Cincinnati $22.2 million in revenues for the year.
CityBeat previously covered Kasich’s 2014-2015 budget proposal and how it affects taxpayers, schools and Medicaid recipients (“Smoke and Mirrors,” issue of Feb. 20).
by German Lopez
139 days ago
West Chester lawmaker promises to tackle debt, jobs
In news that will surprise almost no one, John Boehner was
re-elected to the U.S. House of Representative’s top spot today.
Boehner, a Republican from West Chester, will now act as U.S. House
speaker for the 113th Congress.
Just moments after his re-election, Boehner pledged to tackle the U.S. debt and deficit. The line is nothing new. When President
Barack Obama stepped into the Oval Office, the debt and deficit became top concerns
for Republicans after eight years of binge spending and tax cutting
under former president George W. Bush.
But focusing on the debt could hurt an already slow economy. In recent years, many economists, including Nobel laureate Paul Krugman, have criticized budget austerity measures for dampening economic growth.In fact, Republicans recently embraced
the economic fact by joining the rest of the country in freaking out
about the fiscal cliff. The primary concern with the fiscal cliff was
that it would have cut spending and raised taxes so much and so quickly that
it would have thrown the country back into recession. The Congressional Budget
Office estimated the wave of austerity would have spiked the U.S.
unemployment rate to 9.1 percent by the end of 2013, up from November’s
rate of 7.7 percent.
In Europe, governments have learned the lessons of
austerity all too well. Last year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
was pushing Europe to balance its books. Now, top IMF economists are
releasing papers admitting the IMF greatly underestimated the negative impact austerity has on the economy.
In other words, if Republicans continue focusing on austerity measures to fix
the immediate deficit, the economy could get worse.
Boehner regained the top seat in the U.S. House largely thanks to redistricting. As CityBeat covered in this week’s issue, redistricting helped Republicans win the House despite losing the popular vote to Democrats.
by German Lopez
City Manager's 2013 budget proposal must be approved by council, mayor
City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. unveiled his 2013 budget plan at a press conference today. The proposal, which must be approved by City Council and
the mayor, seeks to close a $34 million deficit while avoiding major cuts
and layoffs. The proposed budget will only set the city’s course until
mid-June, when the city will transition into establishing budgets based
on fiscal years.
The biggest deficit plug will come from privatizing parking
services, which the city manager’s office says will bring in $40 million
in one-time revenue and additional revenue over 30 years as part of a
long-term contract. About $21 million of the initial lump-sum payment will be
used to close the 2013 budget deficit.
In the past, Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld voiced concerns
about privatizing parking: “I’ll await more details, but
it seems penny-wise and pound-foolish to forgo a steady revenue stream
for a lump-sum payment. Cincinnati needs a structurally balanced budget
and can’t keep relying on one-time sources. Places like Chicago and
Indianapolis have seen their parking rates more than double following
privatization — that’s a bad deal for citizens, and something we don’t
need while we’re experiencing an urban renaissance.”
Another concern is whether the city’s current parking
employees will be laid off if parking services are sold. Dohoney said
the deal for privatization will require the winning bidder to interview
all American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
(AFSCME) workers. Full-time workers who do not join the winning bidder will be
hired in other parts of the city government. “No AFSCME employee will be
placed on the street if they are full-time as a result of this effort,”
The rest of the deficit plug will come in cuts, cost shifting, savings,
revenue, embedded growth and one-time sources. Among these, notable
items include the elimination of the Mounted Patrol for the Cincinnati Police
Department (CPD) and a $610,770 reduction in Human Services Funding. A few departments and programs, including the CPD, will face
further minor cuts.
The city manager’s office claims the changes in the budget
are necessary mostly due to changes at the state level. Specifically,
the state government cut the Local Government Fund by 50 percent and
eliminated the tangible personal property tax reimbursement and estate
tax; altogether, losing these sources of revenue cost Cincinnati $22.2
million in the 2013 budget.
Facing the large deficit, Dohoney said he wanted to avoid across-the-board cuts and
other major cuts to growth and investment programs: “You’re not competitive
if that’s your approach.”
The budget also includes some
spending increases. The Focus 52 Program will focus on redevelopment
projects in Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods. If it’s successful, the new
program will “grow the city’s revenue base, create new jobs and/or
increase the population of the city,” according to the city manager’s
In other budget news, the city manager will also send out
the Tentative Tax Budget proposal, which sets the millage rate for the
operating property tax. That proposal seeks to raise the millage rate
from 5.9 mills to 6.1 mills, which will provide an estimated $31 million
in revenue, up from $23.5 million. For a $100,000 residential property,
that means a tax hike of $46.
2 Comments · Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Sometime in the next 10 weeks or so, U.S. citizens will learn whether the Supreme Court will uphold the first significant health care reform in nearly a half-century. It doesn’t matter if you’re interested in
politics or couldn’t give a hoot, the decision will directly impact
you, your family and your friends for years to come.
0 Comments · Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Back in January 2001, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) was estimating the nation was on course to have a negative net indebtedness beginning in 2006, partially due to various fiscal policies put into place by President Clinton. They included a tax increase on upper-income taxpayers that was approved during his first year in office, coupled with some spending cuts and increases in tax collections on items like capital gains that were sparked by the then-booming economy.