1 Comment · Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Kasich released a more moderate budget proposal for the 2014 and 2015
fiscal years, but it fails to make up for the governor’s history
of massive spending cuts and the state’s faulty social welfare
0 Comments · Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Gov. John Kasich’s 2014-15 budget
contains a few surprises for progressives — some pleasant, some not —
including a proposal to take up the Affordable Care Act’s incentive to
by German Lopez
108 days ago
Governor proposes health care expansion despite opposing Obamacare
Gov. John Kasich released his 2014-2015 budget plan today, and it
has a few surprises — some pleasant, some not — for progressives. Despite his vocal opposition to Obamacare, Kasich
will be taking up the federal law’s incentive to expand Medicaid, the health care program for low-income families. But instead of taking back past cuts to social services, education and local governments, the governor is pushing ahead with income and sales tax cuts.
The Medicaid expansion would add more Ohioans to the state-federal health care program by raising the eligibility threshold to 138 percent of the
federal poverty level, up from 90 percent. The budget summary claims the expansion
makes financial sense for the state as long as the federal government picks up most of the tab. As part of Obamacare, the federal government takes all the
costs for newly insured Medicaid recipients for the first three years. After
that, the federal government’s share is brought down to 95 percent and ultimately phased down to 90 percent. If the federal
government reneges on its promise to pay for the bulk of the share,
Kasich’s budget has a trigger to wind down the Medicaid expansion.
The budget also proposes income and sales tax cuts, which would come with some trade-offs. The state
income tax would be brought down by 20 percent across the board, and
the sales tax would be cut from 5.5 percent to 5 percent. To balance the
cuts, Kasich has proposed broadening the sales tax to include other
“economic activity,” while keeping exemptions for education, health
care, rent and residential utilities.
In another slew of tax changes, Kasich’s plan proposes
revamping the oil and gas severance tax. It would eliminate the tax for
“small, conventional natural gas producers,” but imposes a 4 percent tax for
bigger oil and gas producers.
In the past, liberals have voiced opposition to tax cuts — instead favoring investments elsewhere. Policy Matters Ohio released its own budget proposals
Jan. 31, which emphasized “education, health care and human services.”
The plan would also increase the income tax for top earners.
City Council Member P.G. Sittenfeld released a statement
criticizing Kasich’s budget for not using the extra revenue to scale
back local government and education cuts enacted in the 2012-2013
budget: “At a time when local governments around the state are being
forced to slash basic services, lay off safety personnel, raise taxes,
and sell off assets just to stay afloat, it's out of touch for Gov.
Kasich not to reverse his raid on our local government fund. We don’t
pay taxes to pad the governor’s soundbites, we pay them to maintain our
roads and keep cops on the street. This should not be a partisan issue.
It's simply illogical governance to make the state look good while in
the process hurting Ohio's cities.”
The budget proposal also includes Kasich’s Ohio Turnpike plan and education reform plan.
by German Lopez
113 days ago
Austerity hurts U.S. economy, voter suppression returns, state income tax benefits rich
Between October and December, the U.S. economy unexpectedly shrank by 0.1 percent — the first contraction since 2009. The downturn was
primarily caused by the threat of conservative fiscal policies,
particularly defense spending cuts. Dropping business inventories also
helped drag down the economy. Otherwise, consumer and business spending
was actually strong.
Some Republicans want another go at reducing voting rights.
Rep. Mike Dovilla, chairman of the newly created House Policy &
Legislative Oversight Committee, says he wants to consider measures that
crack down on alleged voter fraud, including reduced voting
times and a photo ID requirement to vote. But in-person voter fraud is not a real problem. News21, a Carnegie-Knight investigative reporting project, found only 10 cases of in-person voting fraud in the United States between 2000 and 2012.
That’s not even one case of in-person fraud each year. The real reason
Republicans want to enact stricter voting measures is to hinder young, minority
voters that typically support Democrats. One study found 700,000 young, minority voters were excluded by photo ID laws in 2012.
A Policy Matters Ohio report found Ohio’s income tax hits the poor and middle class
a lot harder than the wealthy. The numbers from the report: “The top 1
percent of non-elderly Ohio families by income, who earned at least
$324,000 in 2010, on average pay 8.1 percent of their income in state
and local income, property, sales and excise taxes. By contrast, the
lowest fifth, who make less than $17,000, on average pay 11.6 percent.
Families in the middle fifth of the income spectrum, who make between
$31,000 and $49,000, on average pay 10.6 percent.”
Cincinnati is extending its contract
with Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) for a month
despite an ongoing conflict, but the supposed conflict is really much ado about nothing.
SORTA wants the city to guarantee it won’t use the transit fund for the
streetcar, but City Council has already passed a resolution saying it
won’t and Mayor Mark Mallory has repeatedly stated he will not use the
transit fund for the streetcar. Due to the mayor’s race, the streetcar
will be facing another contentious year at the ballot box,
which CityBeat covered in-depth here.
More than 60 percent of Greater Cincinnati entrepreneurs are expecting a net profit
in 2013. Most of them also expect to hire part-time employees,
according to a new survey from the Entrepreneurs’ Organization. The
survey is another sign of rising confidence in the U.S.
economy.The Dayton Daily News reports manufacturing is driving economic growth in Ohio, to the benefit of more than half of the state’s counties.
When defending Ohio's charter school and voucher programs, conservatives often tout the magic of “school choice,” but a Policy
Matters report found school choice may hurt education standards in the state.
Ed FitzGerald, a popular Democrat from Cuyahoga County, is gearing up to run for the governor's race in 2014.
Scientists have taught bacteria to eat electricity. The trick could eventually be used to turn microorganisms into a biofuel source.
Pendleton residents lament developer’s plan to replace former SCPA building’s greenspace with a parking lot
6 Comments · Wednesday, January 30, 2013
The three acres
of greenspace she sees every day from her front window surrounding the
old School for Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA) building, is facing
serious threats of extinction.
by German Lopez
115 days ago
School funding changes soon, prison union wants more security, drug abuse costs employers
School superintendents will hear
about Gov. John Kasich’s school funding proposal Thursday. The
proposal, which will change how all of Ohio’s schools are publicly
funded, will be released to the wider public Feb. 4. Many school
officials are bracing for the worst, according to Cleveland’s The Plain Dealer. Rob Nichols previously told CityBeat
that the proposal is “a big undertaking”: “Many governors have tried
before. Many states have been sued over their formulas. It’s something
we have to take our time with and get it done right.” Ohio’s largest prison staff union is asking Kasich’s administration to increase the amount of prison security officers
following a late December report from the Ohio Department of
Rehabilitation and Correction. The report found a correlation
between rising prison violence and a decrease in prison security staff,
affirming a position the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association has
held for years.
A Journal News report found substance abuse comes at a heavy loss
for Ohio employers, including more workplace injuries, higher medical
costs, more absenteeism and reduced productivity. Some experts advocate
for drug testing to lower the costs, while others
argue drug testing can often affect innocent, responsible drug users.
Employers are much more likely to test for marijuana over alcohol, even
though multiple studies show cannabis is less addictive and
The flu epidemic may be leveling off in Ohio. The state
health department revealed the amount of hospitalizations involving the
flu have plateaued, but the department cautions the calm could be temporary.
The women’s sections of county and regional jails are facing higher levels of overcrowding.
The overcrowding is a result of a 2011 law that enables fourth- and
fifth-degree felons to be held at county jails instead of state prisons.
A new online tool reveals the salaries of public school teachers and staff.
The extensive audit of Ohio schools and their attendance information will be released Feb. 11. The preliminary reports found Cincinnati Public Schools were clean. The investigation into attendance fraud began when Lockland schools in Hamilton County were caught falsifying attendance data.
A new poll found an overwhelming majority of Kentucky parents favor raising the school dropout age to 18, up from the current age of 16.
Ohio gas prices are still rising.
Researchers made super-realistic lung tissue with levitating cells. The development allows researchers to better study how toxins affect the lungs.
by German Lopez
121 days ago
Terhar compares Obama to Hitler, Cincinnati unemployment drops, Portman's deficit plan
Ohio State Board of Education President Debe Terhar posted an image
of Adolf Hitler on Facebook that said, “Never forget what this tyrant
said: ‘To conquer a nation, first disarm its citizens.’ — Adolf Hitler.”
But the Cincinnati Republican, who was referencing President Barack
Obama’s gun control proposals, now insists she was not comparing Obama
to Hitler. It’s pretty obvious she was, though.
Cincinnati’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate
dropped to 6.7 percent in December, down from 6.9 percent in November.
The drop is largely attributed to a decrease in the civilian labor force,
which could imply less people are looking for work or seasonal changes
are having an impact. Whatever the case, the amount of people who are
employed and unemployed both dropped. Hamilton County’s seasonally
unadjusted unemployment rate dropped to 6.2 percent in December, down
from 6.4 percent in November, but that drop was also attributed to a declining labor
force or seasonal factors. Greater Cincinnati’s seasonally unadjusted
unemployment rate was unchanged from 6.4 percent, despite 2,600 less
people working. In comparison, Ohio’s seasonally unadjusted
rate was 6.6 percent in December, up from 6.5 percent in November, and
the U.S. rate was 7.6 percent, up from 7.4 percent.
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, suggested the Dollar-for-Dollar
Deficit Reduction Act. The plan requires debt ceiling increases to be
matched by an equal amount of spending cuts. Increasing the debt ceiling
is essentially Congress agreeing to pay its bills. During the budget
process and while passing other legislation, Congress agrees to a
certain amount of spending. Increasing the debt ceiling just makes it
possible for the president to pay those bills, even if it means
surpassing a set debt level. If the debt ceiling isn't raised by May 18,
the United States will default on its debts, plunging the country into
depression. But the threat of destroying the U.S. economy has not
stopped Republicans from using the debt ceiling as a negotiation tool to
get the spending cuts they so badly want.
Public employees are avoiding changes to Ohio’s public pension system
by retiring before the changes kick in. The changes make it so any teacher who
retires before July 1 will get a 2 percent cost of living increase to
their pensions in 2015. Anyone who retires after July 1 will not get the
increase until 2018. After that, retirees will get a pension increase
every five years. Experts are also expecting a rush of retirees in 2015,
when age and years-of-service requirements for full benefits are set to
A new report found Ohio’s graduation rate is still improving.
The U.S. Department of Education report found the state’s graduation
rate was 81.4 percent in the 2009-10 school year, higher than the
nation’s rate of 78.2 percent, and an increase from 78.7 percent rate in
the 2006-2007 school year.
A study found a link between hourly workers at Hamilton County’s Fernald Feed Materials Production Center and intestinal cancer.
As Ohio cuts back its solar program, Canada is shutting down the rest of its coal-fired power plants by the end of 2013.
The Cincinnati Reds may get to host the 2015 All-Stars Game.
Scientists are rushing to build robots that save lives in disaster zones. Will John Connor please stand up?
by German Lopez
122 days ago
Local governments hopeful, Kasich state of state in Lima, Union Terminal needs repairs
It’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day. On this day, it’s worth re-watching his I Have a Dream speech.
Local governments are hopeful they won’t see big budget cuts in Gov. John Kasich’s 2014-2015 budget.
Townships, municipalities and counties were economically hit by big
cuts in the last budget. The local government cuts added up to $1
billion on a state level, and Hamilton County shared $105 million — more
than 10 percent — of the cuts, according to Cuts Hurt Ohio. Education saw $1.8 billion in cuts statewide, with Hamilton County taking $117 million of those cuts.
Gov. Kasich announced that his state of the state address
will take place in Lima, Ohio. Kasich’s speech last year was labeled
“bizarre” by outlets like The Hill. During the speech, Kasich imitated a person with severe Parkinson's disorder and called Californians “wackadoodles.”
Union Terminal is falling apart. Cincinnati Museum Center executives say they need nearly
$180 million for repairs. The damages are largely due to how the
building was constructed. Its design lets moisture get behind bricks,
which then causes supporting steel beams to rust.The judge in the Miami University rape flier case gave a deposition Jan. 15. The document outlines Judge Robert Lyons’ reasoning for letting the rape flier case go: “What I remember about him is that
there was certainly concern about his, say, his mental health and there
were grounds stated on the record for the necessity of sealing the
record. It had to do with his — probably as I recall, more so mental
well-being than anything else.”
Former governor Ted Strickland is tired of raising campaign money, but that didn’t stop him from joining City Council candidate Greg Landsman Friday.
Landsman was Strickland’s field director for his congressional
campaign, and when Strickland was governor, Landsman was director of the
Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.Rumor has it the Carew Tower will be going residential, but the owners are denying it all.
The denial letter, which assured current tenants they
won’t be kicked out, makes reference to a “softness in the general
downtown office market.”
The Greater Cincinnati Foundation made $1.3 million in grants.
The grants will help a variety of businesses and groups. A $225,000
grant will go to Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s Minority Business
Accelerator, which helps local businesses owned by minorities.
Garbage collection will be delayed by a day this week due to Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Will the first neanderthal in 30,000 years be given birth by a human mother? A Harvard geneticist says he’s close to making it possible.
by German Lopez
125 days ago
State unemployment drops, GOP embraces redistricting, Cincinnati climate-friendly
Ohio’s unemployment rate dropped to 6.7 percent in December, down from 6.8 percent in November, according to new numbers
from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. In comparison, the
U.S. unemployment rate was at 7.8 percent in December. The amount of
unemployed dropped from 391,000 to 388,000. Unfortunately, the amount of
employed also dropped, indicating that some people are leaving the
The Republican State Leadership Committee admitted the only reason Republicans kept a House majority was politicized redistricting.
The admission from a memo titled “How a Strategy of Targeting State
Legislative Races in 2010 Led to a Republican U.S. House Majority in
2013.” The report even singled out Ohio as a state that benefited
Republicans due to redistricting. CityBeat previously covered the issue in-depth here.
Cincinnati is among three finalists in the World Wildlife
Fund’s (WWF) Earth Hour City Challenge. The contest judges efforts to
combat global warming. Cincinnati, Chicago and San Francisco were chosen
by WWF and global management consultancy Accenture for
preparing their cities for a “climate-friendly future,” according to a
statement from WWF.
At this point, it’s looking like Gov. John Kasich’s budget proposals will take months for legislators to sort through. The proposals include major changes to taxes, the Ohio Turnpike, education and Medicaid.
Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky signed a landmark water agreement to leverage Greater Cincinnati’s water technologies. The agreement seeks to spur legislation, according to the Business Courier.
The Cincinnati Zoo may need a levy to stay afloat.
Ohio hospitals spent $3.1 billion in free health care in 2010, up from $2.9 billion in 2009, according to an Ohio Hospital Association report.
On the bright side, overall crime is down in Cincinnati.
Bad news, everyone. Chipotle is likely to raise prices this year.
To avoid Obamacare’s health care requirements for businesses, some businesses may begin cutting jobs.
Some in the scientific community want to establish national parks on Mars.
The Catholic Church’s interference with its employees’ private lives is becoming an increasingly public matter
4 Comments · Wednesday, January 9, 2013
In the 1940s, upholding a dainty, proper
nuclear family wasn’t just common — it was the absolute standard for
social acceptance. Seventy years later, that’s no longer the case.