Morning News: Downtown's population increased last year; KKK flyers found in Covington; state budget shortfall looms as tax receipts fall flat

As tax collections fall short for the eighth time in nine months, critics question Gov. John Kasich’s “slash taxes and watch the economy grow” approach.

Apr 14, 2017 at 11:21 am
click to enlarge Ohio Gov. John Kasich - Max Goldberg
Max Goldberg
Ohio Gov. John Kasich

Hey hey Cincy. Let’s talk news, shall we?

This first bit probably explains why a young reporter can’t go to the downtown YMCA after work and shoot some basketball or take a run on the track in peace without being elbow to elbow with 30 or 40 spandexed young professionals these days. I mean, it’s for a good reason, though — the population of Cincinnati’s 45202 ZIP code, which includes downtown and Over-the-Rhine, grew by more than 10 percent last year.

What’s more, the average age of a downtown resident dropped from 39 to 35. That revelation is buried on page 22 of an annual collection of stats gathered by Downtown Cincinnati, Inc called the “State of Downtown” report. DCI found that 17,717 people lived in the downtown ZIP in 2017. Last year, the business organization put the population there at 15,933. Average household income and average rents also edged up during that time frame — from $65,203 to $66,360 and from $1,333 to $1,364 respectively. The average price for purchasing residential units also went up, sometimes significantly. Welcome, new downtown residents! Now, please stay out of my way while I practice my three pointers.

• Councilman Kevin Flynn, a Charterite, isn’t that impressed with the current crop of candidates vying to fill his spot. Flynn announced last year that he won’t seek re-election to the city’s legislative body. But now, with a flood of mostly Democrats campaigning for a spot on Council, some are pressuring Flynn to run again. Flynn says he’s still a no, but says “it’s certainly possible I could change my mind” before the May deadline. Flynn’s spot is one of three open seats on Council. Current Councilwoman Yvette Simpson is running for mayor and Councilman Charlie Winburn is term limited.

“Last summer I wanted to put it out there that I wasn’t running in the hope that other good people would step up — people who did not just want to be politicians, but were willing to take the slot in order to help the city,” Flynn told WCPO. “Unfortunately that didn’t happen.” Ouch.

Are there troubles in your neighborhood? If you live in Covington there certainly are, and they’ve come in the form of flyers advertising the Ku Klux Klan. The flyers distributed on the Woodburn Avenue Thursday show a klansman and ask the above question along with the words “neighborhood watch” and “you can sleep tonight knowing the klan is awake.” The flyers also advise residents to contact the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan — which, uh, yeah, don’t do that. Law enforcement officials say no laws were broken by the flyers. The NAACP has put out a statement condemning them as “the work of misguided racist individuals who are trying to intimidate the residents of Covington.”

• Residents who live near the proposed route for a controversial Duke Energy gas pipeline can weigh in June 15 with the state board that will make the decision about whether to greenlight the project. The Ohio Power Siting Board has final say over Duke’s application to build the 20-inch, 13-mile-long pipeline, which the company says will increase efficiency in energy delivery to the area. However, residents around the pipeline and several municipal bodies, including the city of Cincinnati, Hamilton County Commissioners, Evendale, Blue Ash and a number of others have opposed the project, citing leaks and explosions similar pipelines have seen.

A group called Neighbors Opposed to Pipeline Expansion, or NOPE, has been active in organizing resistance to the pipeline. The group says it passes too close to schools, shopping centers and homes. The June 15 hearing will be held at the University of Cincinnati’s Blue Ash campus from 3-8 p.m. in Room 19 of Muntz Hall. After the public hearing, the Siting Board will deliberate about Duke’s application at a hearing July 12 in Columbus.

• Finally, are the state of Ohio’s economic policies working? As tax collections for the state have fallen short for the eighth time in nine months, some are asking questions about Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s “slash taxes and watch the economy grow” approach. Tax receipts for March show the state about $203 million behind projections for the month. The state has taken in about half a billion dollars less than expected in taxes, including income taxes, for the year. That’s blown a $400 million hole in the state’s budget, one that lawmakers are now working to close.

No cuts are off the table, according to Kasich and Republican lawmakers, including funding cuts to education. Kasich has revealed that he thinks efforts to curb Ohio’s opiate addiction epidemic will be spared slashes. Kasich and Republican lawmakers have advanced big cuts to income and corporate taxes year after year — to the tune of $5 billion — saying they would spur the economy, create new jobs and fill the state’s coffers with taxes from increased productivity. However, other states that have tried this approach (see: Kansas, which is experiencing deep  budget shortfalls) have not seen this practice come to fruition. Democrats are blasting Kasich for the shortfall.

“We were promised that deep cuts to communities, deep cuts to schools, privatizing job creation and shifting taxes to give millionaires breaks would grow our economy and create jobs, but today’s announcement is proof Gov. Kasich and other leaders have broken that promise,” said Democratic State Rep. Jack Cera, who serves on the State House Finance Committee.

Correction: due to a web glitch, an earlier version of this blog post featured about a dozen pictures of Ohio Gov. John Kasich in a row. CityBeat regrets the error and doesn't like any politician that much.