by German Lopez
134 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
134 days ago
Violence at private prison, JobsOhio gets liquor funds, Kasich's budget blueprint
There’s even more bad news coming from Ohio’s newly
privatized prison. Violence last week forced Corrections Corporation of
America (CCA) to call in
the state’s special response team, according to Plunderbund. Two teams
from the Ohio Department of Correction and Rehabilitation were
dispatched. Gov. John Kasich pushed prison privatization in his 2012-2013 budget to save costs. CityBeat covered private prisons and the shady connections CCA had to the current state government prior to the sale here.
There might be a court case disputing JobsOhio’s
constitutionality, but that hasn’t stopped the state government from
moving forward with implementing the private, nonprofit agency. On
Friday, the state announced it transferred $500 million
in state liquor funds to JobsOhio. The Ohio Supreme Court recently
agreed to take up a case from ProgressOhio disputing whether state funds
can be used for the private agency. Kasich established the
agency in an effort to encourage job growth in Ohio.
Kasich will reveal the blueprint for his 2014-2015 budget plan later today. According to Gongwer, his proposed budget will cut personal income taxes across the board
and offset the cuts by closing loopholes and broadening the sales tax
base. The governor has long been eying an income
tax cut. He previously suggested raising the oil and gas severance tax
to help pay for a tax cut, but the plan faces bipartisan opposition.
In the 2013 mayoral race, John Cranley is currently outraising
Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, but both Democrats are fairly close. Qualls has raised $134,188, while Cranley
has raised $170,877. Most of the race has focused on the streetcar so far, with Qualls supporting and Cranley against the twice-voter-approved transit project.
The city of Cincinnati and Duke Energy have reached
a limited agreement to
meet in court to settle who has to pay for moving utility lines to
accommodate for the streetcar’s tracks. As part of the agreement, Duke will begin moving lines in the next few weeks, even while the city and Duke wait for courts
to decide who will pay for moving the lines. Mayor Mark Mallory also announced the city will try to finish
the streetcar project in time for the 2015 Major League Baseball
All-Star Game, but he added there are no guarantees. For more on the
streetcar and how it relates to the 2013 mayoral race, check out CityBeat’s cover story.Libertarian Jim Berns recently forced a mayoral primary by entering the race.
Community leaders around Greater Cincinnati are mapping out veteran services programs.
Ohio is expanding its foreclosure prevention program.
The maximum benefit possible has increased from $25,000 to $35,000, and
the highest annual household income allowed to participate in the
program is now $112,375.
The Ohio Board of Regents finished moving to the Ohio Board of Education building.
Looks like Ohio First Lady Karen Kasich’s Twitter account was hacked.
Smokers will pay higher prices under Obamacare.
Physicists have created crystals that are nearly alive.
by German Lopez
138 days ago
New funding plan surprisingly progressive but expands vouchers
Speaking in front of Ohio school administrators Thursday,
Gov. John Kasich unveiled a surprisingly progressive-sounding education reform plan that seeks to diminish school funding inequality, but it also expands
Ohio’s flawed voucher program.
Kasich said the plan will not cut any school district’s
funding, but it will work to reduce gaps between the wealthy and
poor. Currently, the poorest school district can get $700 to $800 per pupil for 20 mills of property taxes, while the wealthiest districts
can get as much as $14,000 per pupil. The plan will eliminate much of that gap,
according to Kasich.
Kasich’s plan will open up extra funding for students with
severe disabilities and students who need to learn English, on top of a
$300 million “innovation
fund” that will reward schools with grants for initiatives that improve
learning and teaching. The plan will also expand the state’s voucher program to
provide private school tuition for any family below 200 percent of
the federal poverty level — about $46,000 for a family of four. The
vouchers, which will become available in the fall, will be worth up to
$4,250 a year. Parents will be allowed to choose between participating
But the expansion of “school choice” through more vouchers may not be a good thing. A previous Policy Matters Ohio report found expanded school choice can have negative effects on education, including worse results for students and teachers.
Kasich justified his proposals by claiming, “The Lord is
watching us as we make an effort to give our children the knowledge that
they want in order to be successful and to pursue their God-given
He also said the program is fully funded, which was made possible by extra revenue gained from Ohio’s economic rebound.
On judging his proposals, Kasich said, “We need to think about this not in isolation. We need to think about this over the course of the last couple
Taking the governor at his request, his administration actually signed off on education cuts in
the past couple years. Cuts Hurt Ohio, a website that tracks budget cuts
enacted by Kasich, shows funding to education was cut statewide by $1.8 billion. For Hamilton County, $117 million in
education funding was cut.
Kasich also helped push a few education initiatives
through the Ohio legislature. During the press conference, he cited
his Third-Grade Reading Guarantee, which forces schools to hold back
students who aren’t “proficient” in reading. Kasich also pointed to the
new school report cards, which use an A-to-F grading system to give more
transparency to parents and enforce higher standards for schools.The plan will require approval from the Ohio legislature to become law. It also may face scrutiny from courts; the Ohio Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled the state's school funding system relies too much on local property taxes.
by German Lopez
138 days ago
Qualls wants streetcar sooner, new school funding plan, council urges Medicaid expansion
Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls is asking the city
administration to complete construction of the streetcar in time for the
2015 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, which will be hosted in
Cincinnati. A letter from Qualls to City Manager Milton Dohoney and
Mayor Mark Mallory explains her reasoning: “This may present a
challenge, but it is one I am sure the administration is capable of
meeting. The streetcar will serve a critical role in efficiently and
effectively moving visitors to and from Great American Ballpark and
allowing them to conveniently visit other venues such as Fountain
Square, Horseshoe Casino, Over-the-Rhine, Washington Park, etc.” CityBeat covered the streetcar’s delays and how the project relates to the 2013 mayor’s race here.
Gov. John Kasich will reveal
his plan for funding Ohio schools today. The plan is expected to include a $300
million “innovation fund” to support school initiatives that improve
teaching and learning. In a previous interview, Rob Nichols, Kasich’s
spokesperson, explained the troubles of establishing a plan: “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
City Council passed a resolution urging Kasich
to expand Medicaid. Qualls explained the need for the
resolution: “Expanding Medicaid will create a net savings to the state
over time, allow the City’s health department to improve access to
health services at lower costs, and most importantly, provide health
care coverage for thousands of Cincinnati residents who need it most.” A
study from the Health Policy Institute of Ohio found a Medicaid expansion would save the state money for the first few years. Previous studies also found
correlations between improved health results in states and a Medicaid
expansion, and a study from the Arkansas Department of Human Services claimed Arkansas would save $378 million by 2025 with the Medicaid
A new report found poverty is increasing in Ohio. About one in six Ohioans are below the federal poverty line, according to the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies report.
About $100 million in development downtown is kicking off
today. City officials and business leaders are gathering for the
groundbreaking this morning of a lot at Fifth and Race streets that has
idled for nearly 30 years. The lot will host the new four-story
headquarters for DunnhumbyUSA.
Kasich says Ohio will continue taking Ky. jobs in the future. The rough words are Kasich's interesting approach to encouraging Ky. legislators to support the Brent Spence Bridge project.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine issued a scam alert telling businesses to be wary of emails claiming to be from the Federal Trade Commission or FTC.
Miami University broke its application record.
A Wright State professor saved
Cincinnati-based Kroger more than $170 million with his work on more
accurate pharmaceutical predictions. The professor, Xinhui Zhang, is now
one of the six finalists worldwide for the Franz Edelman Award.Ohioans now have a phone number to report cases of child
abuse or neglect: 855-O-H-CHILD, or 855-642-4453. Reports can be
anonymous.Humanity is one step closer to the inevitable robot apocalypse. GE's hospital robot can sort scalpels, sterilize tools and prepare operating rooms for surgery.
by German Lopez
Anti-abortion agenda could return, budget group speaks up, Green Cincinnati update
On the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, House Health and Aging Chairman Lynn Watchman said anti-abortion legislation could come back
in the current legislative session. That includes the heartbeat bill,
which would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, and a
plan to defund Planned Parenthood. CityBeat wrote about the anti-abortion legislation last time Ohio Republicans tried to bring it up here.
One Ohio Now, a group focused on the state budget, has a few requests
for Gov. John Kasich. They don’t want an income tax cut when the
revenue could be used to expand Medicaid and raise school funding. In other states, a Medicaid expansion correlated with better health results, and one study found expanding Medicaid could save Ohio money. More school funding could also make up for the last budget's massive cuts to education, which are explained on a county-by-county basis at Cuts Hurt Ohio.
While the state government is tearing down solar power initiatives, Cincinnati is working to update
Green Cincinnati. Environmental Quality Director Larry Falkin told
WVXU, “We’re broadening the plan to be not just focused on climate
protection, but more broadly on all areas of sustainability.” He added,
“It’s going to show us how Cincinnatians can live a better lifestyle
using less resources.” The plan was originally drafted in 2007 and
adopted a year later to prepare the city for changing environmental
Last year was good for local home sales. The Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors says home sales were at the highest levels since 2008.
A federal judge ended most of his court-mandated oversight of Ohio’s youth prisons
last Friday. The ruling shows how much progress has been made in state
youth facilities, according to Alphonse Gerhardstein, a Cincinnati
lawyer representing juvenile inmates.
Ohio Democrats are now calling
for Ohio State Board of Education President Debe Terhar to resign.
Terhar is facing criticism for comparing President Barack Obama to Adolf
Hitler when she posted an image of Adolf Hitler on her personal
Facebook page that read, “Never forget what this tyrant said: ‘To
conquer a nation, first disarm its citizens.’ — Adolf Hitler.”
Amy Murray is running for City Council.
Murray was appointed to City Council in 2011 when Chris Monzel left and became Hamilton County commissioner. But she lost her seat in the 2011 election, which swept Democrats into City Council.
Cincinnati and Columbus airports saw a drop in traffic, but it seems Dayton International Airport more than made up for it.
The National Council of Teachers wants Ohio to make its colleges more accountable and selective.
An investigation into the massive accident on I-275 could take days. The accident, which is believed to have caused at least 86 cars to crash, led to the death of a 12-year-old girl.
Blockbuster still exists, and it’s shutting down stores and cutting jobs.
A smoke screen company wants to use its product
to prevent more school shootings. The smoke screens fill up a room with
non-toxic smoke on demand, which could obscure a shooter’s vision.
Update for any women looking to have a neanderthal baby: The Harvard scientist was only saying it’s a possibility someday.
by German Lopez
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
State budget will reform taxes, Monzel takes charge of county, freestanding restroom vote
Gov. John Kasich’s 2014-2015 budget plan is on the horizon, and it contains “sweeping tax reform,”
according to Tim Keen, budget director for Kasich. Keen said the new
plan will “result in a significant competitive improvement in our tax
structure,” but it’s not sure how large tax cuts would be paid for. Some
are already calling the plan the “re-election budget.” Expectations are Kasich’s administration will cut less than the previous budget, which greatly cut funding to local governments and education.
Chris Monzel is now in charge
of the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners. Monzel will serve as
president, while former president Greg Hartmann has stepped down to vice
president. Monzel says public safety will be his No. 1 concern.City Council may vote today on a plan to build the first freestanding public restroom, and it may be coming at a lower cost.
City Manager Milton Dohoney said last week that the restroom could cost
$130,000 with $90,000 going to the actual restroom facility, but
Councilman Seelbach says the city might be able to secure the facility
for about $40,000.
Tomorrow, county commissioners may vote on policy
regarding the Metropolitan Sewer District. Commissioners have been
looking into ending a responsible bidder policy, which they say is bad
for businesses. But Councilman Seelbach argues the policy ensures
job training is part of multi-billion dollar sewer programs. Board President Monzel and
Seelbach are working on a compromise the city and county can agree on.
The Hamilton County Board of Elections is prepared to refer five cases of potential voter fraud from the Nov. 6 election. The board is also investigating about two dozen more voters’ actions for potential criminal charges.
King’s Island is taking job applications for 4,000 full- and part-time positions.
Ohio may soon link teacher pay to quality.
Gov. John Kasich says his funding plan for schools will “empower,” not
require, schools to attach teacher compensation to student success. A previous study suggested the scheme, also known as “merit pay,” might be a good idea.
An economist says Ohio’s home sales will soon be soaring.
Debe Terhar will continue as the Board of Education president, with Tom Gunlock staying as vice president.
Equal rights for women everywhere could save the world,
say two Stanford biologists. Apparently, giving women more rights makes
it so they have less children, which biologists Paul R. and Anne
Ehrlich say will stop humanity from overpopulating the world.
Ever wanted to eat like a caveman? I’m sure someone out there does. Well, here is how.
by German Lopez
Conneaut councilman asks state to intervene at CCA facility
Private prison critics have been proven right once again. Smuggling incidents are on the rise around Lake Erie Correctional
Institution, which Ohio sold to the Corrections Corporation of America
(CCA) in 2011.
In a letter to Gov. John Kasich’s northeast Ohio liaison,
Conneaut Councilman Neil LaRusch claimed a rise in contraband smuggling has forced local police to increase security around the CCA facility.
Since the end of 2012, four have been arrested and charged
with smuggling. Another four were arrested Monday and police suspect
they were in Conneaut for a smuggling job. According to the Star Beacon, the four suspects arrested Monday were only caught due to the increased police presence outside the Lake Erie prison.
LaRusch said Conneaut and its police department are
already running tight budgets, and they can’t afford to continue padding
prison security. He then asked the state and governor to help out with
The letter prompted a reaction from the American Civil
Liberties Union of Ohio (ACLU), which has staunchly opposed prison
privatization in the state. In a statement, Mike Brickner, director of
communications and public policy for the ACLU, said, “Unfortunately,
this is a predictable pattern with private prisons. Promises of lower
costs quickly morph into higher crime, increased burdens on local law
enforcement, and in the end, a higher bill for taxpayers.”
He added, “This is not an anomaly. It is a predictable
pattern. The private prison model is built on profit above all else.
These facilities will cut corners and shift responsibility to taxpayers
wherever necessary to maximize profits.”
The governor’s office and Ohio Department of
Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) could not be immediately reached
for comment. This story will be updated if a response becomes available.Update (5:00 p.m.): Col. John Born, superintendent of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, responded to the councilman's letter. In his own letter, Born doesn't contradict that there's a rise in drug smuggling, but he gives the issue more context. Born wrote criminal incidents at the Lake Erie prison have actually decreased. He acknowledges drug smuggling cases went up from four in 2011 to seven in 2012, but he says drug cases have gone down at the prison since 2010. He also claims seven other state prisons have seen a greater rise in drug smuggling. Born frames the issue in a national context: “Unfortunately,
despite best efforts, the national problem of illegal drug usage and
drug trafficking continues to plague our nation.”Regarding state assistance, Born wrote the Ohio State Highway Patrol does not have the authority to strengthen security in order to directly prevent drug smuggling: “It is important to point out the Ohio State Highway Patrol's legal authority and corresponding duties prior to the sale of the prison and after the sale remain largely unchanged. Ohio troopers did not have original jurisdiction on private property off institution grounds while under state operations nor do they today.”He adds the Ohio State Highway Patrol has already deployed more cruisers at the prison, but he believes local law enforcement are still the best option for responding to incidents.JoEllen Smith, spokesperson for ODRC, wrote in an email, “DRC will be in communication with the parties involved to ensure any remaining concerns are addressed.”
CityBeat previously covered private prisons in-depth (“Liberty for Sale,” issue of Sept. 19). Within a week of the story going to stands, ODRC Director Gary Mohr said the state would not privatize any more prisons. On the same day of his announcement, Mohr apparently received an audit that found the CCA facility was only meeting 66.7 percent of state standards (“Prison Privatization Blues,” issue of Oct. 10).
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a measure into law that will
crack down on puppy mills — inhumane, large-scale dog breeding
operations run for profit, often resulting in severe neglect and abuse. CINCINNATI +1
by German Lopez
Strickland calls for gun control, Kasich to loosen gun rules, Mallory rebuts streetcar claims
Former Ohio governor Ted Strickland, who rose to the governorship with the help of the National Rifle Association, says
gun rights and gun control can co-exist. The claim is in light of the
massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., which killed
20 children and six adults. Many have called for stricter gun control
in light of the past year’s bouts of gun violence, but Republicans are
typically opposed to such proposals. A recent poll from The Washington Post and ABC News found 59 percent of Americans support
banning high-capacity ammunition clips, much like the ones used in the
Newtown shooting. Another 52 percent back the ban of semi-automatic
Still, Gov. John Kasich isn’t changing his mind on the Second Amendment. He says he will sign
a bill that allows guns in the Ohio Statehouse parking garage. The bill
will also change the definition of an unloaded gun, allowing gun owners
to carry loaded clips in their vehicles as long as they are in a
separate compartment from the gun, and make concealed carry permits from
other states easier to validate in Ohio.
Despite denials from city officials, mayoral candidate John Cranley and Councilman Chris Smitherman insist city government is trying to use the transit fund to fund the streetcar. But Mayor Mark Mallory in an op-ed for The Cincinnati Enquirer said it will not happen.
Mallory said the dispute dates back to a lawsuit filed by Southwest
Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA), which runs the Metro bus
system. The lawsuit demands transit funds be solely dedicated to SORTA.
Cincinnati’s U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot has vowed to continue trying to kill
the streetcar. Even though voters have approved of the streetcar twice,
Chabot, who also represents Warren County in district boundaries that
were redrawn by Republicans, says he would rather focus federal funding
on other projects, like the Brent Spence Bridge.
A conservative northern Kentucky lawmaker is supporting
a bill that expands prisoners’ rights to DNA testing. The bill would
allow a Cincinnati man to push for DNA testing that he claims will
exonerate him of a 1987 rape and murder in Newport. Ky. Sen. John
Schickel argued, “If DNA testing is good enough to send you to prison it
should be good enough to get you out of prison.”
Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bank bought
another $100 million in stock from Credit Suisse International. The
deal is part of a larger program to buy back 100 million shares.
Cincinnati State is in line to obtain $123,000 from the state government. The funding could create 51 new or expanded co-op jobs.
The United Way of Greater Cincinnati announced
$50.7 million in investments for 2013, a slight increase from 2012. The increase will help boost funding to
prepare children for kindergarten by 5 percent. It will also fund 288
programs at 146 agencies, with seven becoming new United Way agency
The Prince Hall Shriners, which describes itself as “the world’s oldest African-American fraternal organization,” is returning to Cincinnati in 2015. The convention was in Cincinnati in 2011.
Duke Energy’s local management is being shaken up. Jim Henning will take over as president for Duke Energy Ohio and Kentucky.
Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Jim Petro is retiring.
Did you know our solar system is sort of like a phoenix? It apparently rose from the cumulative ashes of countless stars, not one supernova.