Super Bowl Sunday has come and gone, and what an emotional rollercoaster it was! Not only was the game neck and neck until the end, but viewers were taken through a gauntlet of tear-jerking ads between plays.
puppies? Check. Dead children?
Of course! It is the Super Bowl,
after all. It’s as if advertisers suddenly realized humans have emotions, and
that beer + bikini + kick to the crotch is not in fact the perfect formula to
lure every football fan. Check out more Super Bowl commercials here.
But there were some funny ads, too. Lindsay Lohan poked fun at her wreck of a life for Nationwide; Mindy Kaling learned what it was like to be invisible; and that Pete Rose Sketchers commercial aired, so that’s not embarrassing or anything.
Meanwhile the IRL Women
and Women First, the owners of Portland, Ore.’s feminist bookstore In Other Words, took over
twitter account to give a feminist commentary on the night’s events. Here are
Before we knew it, it was half-time, headlined by Katy Perry.
While she’s no Beyoncé (the disclaimer I give before complimenting anyone), homegirl brought it. Even people who are way too cool to listen to the pop star were all, “I’m not a Katy Perry fan, but that was a great performance,” which is hipster for “I liked it.” And if you were a fan of the amazing graphics throughout the show, you have a local company to thank! Lightborne Communications was behind all the 3-D animations and projections (they also worked on her recent tour). Read more about Lightborne’s involvement here.
The singer came out on a gigantic metallic man-powered lion, danced on a checkerboard come-to-life, served up early-Katy Perry retro beach realness (#leftshark 4 lyfe) and flew across the stadium looking like “The More You Know” star. Lenny Kravitz was already announced as a guest star, and he didn’t disappoint, performing Perry’s breakout single “I Kissed a Girl.” And oh, how I wanted to be that girl. Seriously, the man has not aged in the last 20-30 years. I wonder if he and Gwen Stefani both sold their souls to the devil around the same time in the ‘90s.
But Kravitz wasn’t Perry’s only guest! Rumored performer Missy Elliott surprised the audience with a medley of some of her top hits. It’s been a decade since she released any new music, so hopefully there’s more to come from Missy because the bitch can still put her thang down, flip it and reverse it.
There must be something in the air with pre-Millennium R&B musicians returning to the spotlight, because D’Angelo performed on Saturday Night Live last weekend at took us all to church while he did it. I never thought I’d like D’Angelo with so much clothing on, but he killed it (and owns the sophisticated baglady look).
SNL celebrates 40 years later this month (on a Sunday, which is weird). Tons of former cast members and hosts will appear: Dan Aykroyd, Jim Carrey, Jimmy Fallon, Jon Hamm, Jack Nicholson, Amy Poehler, Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, Justin Timberlake, Christopher Walken and so, so many more, including Eddie Murphy, who’ll be returning for the first time in more than 30 years.
Now stop everything, because the Game of Thrones trailer is here.
“Who said anything about him?” BOOM.
Jimmy Fallon took The Tonight Show on the road for the week, and some of the show’s most hilarious clips have resulted. First, after the Super Bowl, Fallon and friends did a live show from Phoenix. Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart — who watched the big game together and co-star in the upcoming Get Hard — threw down in a lip sync battle (“for their LIVES” – RuPaul) with Fallon. Watch the guys do either best Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Kelly Clarkson and more here.
On Monday, the crew traveled to L.A. So, naturally, Fallon opened the show with a recreation of the intro from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
But the throwback fun doesn’t stop there. No stranger to Mark-Paul Gosselaar (who famously did an interview with Fallon as Zack Morris on Late Night), Fallon reunited the Saved By the Bell crew — Zack (Gosselaar), Kelly (Tiffani Thiessen), Slater (Mario Lopez) and Jessie (Elizabeth Berkley) — for a trip back to Bayside.
This is all great but where is Lisa Turtle (Lark Voorhies)?! I mean I know Dustin “Screech” Diamond was probably busy with his recent arrest and all, but what’s her excuse?
Finally, the movie event horny bitches across the planet have been waiting for is finally here. Folks have been talking about it — anticipating it — since 2012. Some scenes can’t even be shown on TV.
No, I’m not talking about that Fifty Shades bullshit, I’m talkin’ Magic Mike XXL. Try to keep your composure.
Good morning, Cincy. Here’s what’s up today:
The Cincinnati Police Department will pay a local man $25,000 to settle a federal false arrest and first amendment lawsuit. Forest Thorner III was arrested after police took exception to promotional strategies he used to get attention for a friend’s comedy act at the 2012 Party in the Park. Thorner worked the crowd at the event by asking if they wanted to “laugh at the crippled girl,” referring to his friend Ally Bruener. Bruener is in a wheelchair due to muscular dystrophy and does a comedy act. Thorner would point to Bruener, who would tell a joke or two and then promote an upcoming performance. Someone with the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce overheard Thorner and complained to police, who forcibly removed him from the park. Thorner tried to film the arrest, only to have his camera taken and broken by officers. He was charged with disorderly conduct, but found not guilty after none of the witnesses to the incident corroborated the charges against him.
• Cincinnati City Council had a busy slate yesterday. Council gave its approval to 10 development projects seeking low-income housing tax credits from the state of Ohio, which can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Those projects seek to build new affordable housing or rehab existing affordable housing in Walnut Hills, Avondale, Roselawn, College Hill, Over-the-Rhine, Evanston, Bond Hill, Hartwell and downtown. The projects collectively represent hundreds of potential additional units of affordable housing.
Which sounds great, right? Except for some controversy. Originally, Council was considering supporting 12 potential developments seeking the credits but paused giving its blessing to two as questions arose. One of the projects, a rehabilitation of the Chapel Street Apartments in Walnut Hills by Talbert House, has caused concerns among the 20 residents who live in the building currently. Talbert House, which recently purchased the property, would like to rehab the 24-unit property into 27 units of permanent supportive housing. That will require the current residents to be relocated, which doesn’t sit well with many of them. Talbert House has pledged to help them find new places to live, but some say they like where they are.
“I don’t want to move,” says Wayne Green, a current resident. “We’re all a family in that building. If they relocate us all, everyone will be spread out.”
Council tabled that project and another in Roselawn after several council members, including Wendell Young and Kevin Flynn, voiced concern over the process by which the projects engaged the surrounding communities. Council members will discuss them at Monday’s Health and Human Services Committee meeting (10 a.m.) and Neighborhoods committee meeting (2 p.m.). Council ’s nod in the form of a resolution gives each project an extra 10 points on the state’s system for rating project proposals. It’s a competitive system that awards points based on each project’s community collaboration, its economic characteristics, whether it targets extremely low-income residents for at least some of its units and other factors. About one-third of applicants receive the credits, and last year five developments in the Cincinnati area received them.
• Council also passed a resolution submitted by Councilwoman Yvette Simpson honoring Cincinnati Herald owner and publisher Marjorie Parham. Parham served as publisher and editor of the Herald, an award-winning weekly that covers Cincinnati’s black community, from 1963 until 1996, an astounding run in the rather brutal and thankless world of journalism. She did everything from write articles and take photos to sweep the floor, she says, in addition to running the business. The Herald, founded in 1955, celebrates its 60th anniversary this year.
• So, wait. Is Gov. Kasich secretly a Robin Hood type-character? The public school funding proposal he’s tucked into his suggested two-year budget has raised eyebrows as it’s been rolled out over the past couple days. Under Kasich’s proposal, the way public school districts in Ohio get aid from the state would change dramatically. Kasich wants to shift some state funds to districts in areas with lower property and other local tax receipts from areas with higher tax receipts, who can make up the difference by raising their own property taxes.
It’s a way to make up for the disparity between high and low income area schools, Kasich says, and a soundly conservative way to make sure students have a fair shot at succeeding. The change would be capped so that no school lost a dramatic amount of funds. It sounds like a pretty good first step toward fixing the abysmal disparities between the state’s richest and poorest public schools. It also sounds like something Kasich will want to tout if he runs for president. You can expect a lot of blowback from conservative lawmakers in the state house, however, especially those whose districts lose money from the state.
• This gets its own little bullet point because it's important and hard to understand. A caveat: The amounts districts could lose/gain under Kasich's plan seems pretty wonky right now. Check out this chart, which lists which districts will gain and which will lose in Hamilton County, and see if something seems amiss. Yes, Cincinnati Public Schools will gain about 9 percent, or $17 million, under the plan, but that’s not as much as another fairly befuddling district with conceivably higher tax receipts per capita. With a median household income of more than $200,000 and a median home value of more than $900,000, does Indian Hill need a 21 percent-plus boost in state funds for education?
Good morning readers! Let's get right to it: I rounded up four words in this week's issue of Words Nobody Uses or Knows. (Side Note: If you haven't already, check out this year's Love List. We've profiled 12 of Cincinnati's hottest locals, and each one offers bits of wisdom on love, work and passion, just in time for Valentine's Day.)
But moving on. My favorite word of the issue is vittles, found in Garin Pirnia's review of Marid Gras on Madison, a new Creole cafe in East Walnut Hills.
vittles: food; edible provisions (n.)
The singular version of vittles, vittle, is archaic, and for whatever reason it's no longer used in today's vernacular. In fact, Microsoft Word doesn't even recognize vittle as a real word unless you add an S to it.
In the issue: "In January, Latoya “Toya” Foster of New Orleans to Go food truck fame opened a brick-and-mortar version of her Cajun/Creole vittles called Mardi Gras on Madison in East Walnut Hills."The next two words, halcyon and zelig, are found in this week's Sound Advice on Dave Mason, a dude in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that I've never heard of. (But, let's be real, I've never heard of anybody in Sound Advice. I am not anyone's version of cool.)
An awesome sketch of the halcyon, the legendary ostrich/hawk/dinosaur hybrid that controls the seas.
In this issue: "Life is a circle and it’s come back
around full force for Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Dave Mason, who began
his legendary career nearly 50 years ago as co-founder of Traffic and
now revisits those halcyon days with his latest touring concept/project,
Traffic Jam. "
When news came out yesterday that Katy Perry’s Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched and highest-rated of any in history that featured entertainment, there was celebration at Lightborne Communications, the video-production-services company in Over-the-Rhine.
Lightborne created all the animated video projections used in Perry’s 12-and-a-half-minute set, which featured a medley of abbreviated versions of her hits amid phantasmagoric and theatrical staging, costumes, videos, dancing and set design.
And while Lightborne President Scott Durban was wary about taking too much credit — lots of artists, obviously including Perry herself, were involved in the show — he did note that no other company involved in the overall production was based in Cincinnati.
Lightborne got involved because its Tour Visuals and Stage Content division already had been working on Perry’s ongoing Prismatic World Tour. (It also has done or is working on video for tours by Kanye West, Kenny Chesney and Fleetwood Mac.)
Dan Bryant, the head of that division, explained Lightborne’s involvement with Perry’s Super Bowl performance:
“We started working on the project very shortly after she was announced in October as the half-time performer,” Bryant said. “We had done over two hours of content for her Prism tour, so she was already familiar with our company and work. We got a call from her creative director, Baz Halpin, asking us to work on her Super Bowl show.
“As soon as we found out her set list, we started working with [Halpin] for some concepts that would work with the logistics and constraints of the show,” Bryant continued. “We started doing individual frames to capture the overall idea for a particular song. That process went into November. Once we arrived at a concept for each song that everybody was happy with, we started storyboarding them out to give an idea of what the flow of ideas would be for each song.
“Then in December we started doing animatics, taking all the different frames we created and stringing them out to songs in still-frame form so everybody could get an idea of what it would look like when finally animated. That took us to the middle of December,” he said.
“Then we started animating ideas to rough tracks for her Super Bowl medley. That’s when we started using a really amazing piece of software called D3. It’s simulation software, specifically designed about 10 years ago to simulate any live event on a software platform.”
Eventually, after some intermediary steps, Lightborne had a working 3D model of the University of Phoenix Stadium, the performance stage and all the key props. Its crew started loading its animations into that.
“It gave everybody on our team, including Katy herself, a really good idea of what our animated content would look like when projected onto a 160-foot diameter surface,” Bryant said. “That’s when it gets really exciting because you start seeing the idea come to life.”
In January, a four-person Lightborne team went out to Los Angeles to participate in rehearsals. A few days before the Super Bowl, everyone involved moved to Phoenix to rehearse in the actual venue.
Although everything went fine, Bryant said there was great nervousness as the actual Super Bowl game began. Lightborne was counting on some degree of darkness for Perry’s show.
“The first and second quarter went by extremely quickly, and my team on location in Phoenix and everybody else with the show was getting nervous because it was still light outside,” Bryant said. “They had the dome roof open and 15 minutes to show time it was still bright sunshine outside and the field was being hit by sunlight. Luckily some things happened in the game that had the quarter slow down, so it went off without a hitch."
Watch the full performance:
What’s up, all? That’s a rhetorical question. News is what’s up, and here it is.
Answers in Genesis, the Christian organization based in Northern Kentucky that is building a Noah’s Ark theme park in Grant County, has said it will sue the state of Kentucky over tax credits the state rescinded in December. The state took back the tourism-related credits after controversy over Answers’ hiring practices, which stipulate potential employees must sign a statement of faith and other religious measures. Those violate employment discrimination laws and preclude Answers from getting taxpayer money, state officials say. Answers, on the other hand, says they have a right to require their employees fit with their religious values. They’re suing Kentucky for infringing on their religious liberty. The group also says that because the tax credits are sales tax rebates that originally come from the pockets of visitors, they don’t involve taxpayers from the state as a whole. The group has released a video outlining their side of the debate, which you can watch here. Warning: It’s like, almost half an hour long and is mostly a dude in an ill-fitting blazer talking to a lawyer while both sit in folding chairs. The group looks to build a 500-foot long ark and surrounding theme park, which it says will attract more than a million visitors a year.
• Here’s your morning dose of creepy: Hamilton County lawyers would like to limit testimony about the sexual behavior of Kenneth Douglas, a former county morgue employee who is accused of sexually abusing more than 100 corpses at the morgue from the 1970s to the 1990s. Currently, a federal district court is hearing the case against the county brought by the families of three of the deceased whose bodies were abused. The families say the county was negligent in allowing the abuse to happen. The county is attempting to block some testimony about other instances of abuse, including information Douglas gave to law enforcement about the number of bodies he abused. The county’s lawyers say testimony beyond the three abuse cases in question could be confusing and misleading for the jury. The families suing the county for millions say the other incidents show a clear pattern of behavior Douglas’ supervisors should have known about.
• Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld has introduced an initiative to expand the city’s vacant properties registry. Currently, that registry keeps track of bank-owned properties that are currently empty and makes sure the banks aren’t letting them fall into disrepair. But there are loopholes in the system that Sittenfeld would like to close so the city can better hold property owners holding onto vacant buildings accountable. He’d also like to use some of the revenues from the program, which amounted to about $700,000 last year, for hazard abatement and stabilization work.
• Here’s more buzz, and some lack thereof, about a potential presidential bid for Ohio Gov. John Kasich. A recent Quinnipiac University poll found Kasich nearly even with prospective Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in Ohio. Hillary took 44 percent of the poll. Kasich took 43 percent. The quintessential swing state, Ohio is shaping up to be very important for presidential hopefuls in 2016, as it has been in past elections. But how much of the above poll’s results are home field advantage, and how much does the poll say about Kasich’s primary chances? A lot and not much, it would seem. Another poll of GOPers in the state had Kasich with a lead over fellow Republicans, but not by much. Kasich led with 14 percent of the poll, followed by Scott Walker, who had 11 percent and Jeb Bush and Sen. Rand Paul, who each had 10 percent. That lead isn’t much to go on at this point, but it’s still quite early and Kasich could consolidate some of other potential nominees’ support as the herd thins. More troubling for Kasich, however, is the fact that in other Quinnipiac polls around the country, he barely makes a blip. He finished 13th out of 13 candidates in Florida, for example, and tied for 9th in Pennsylvania, his native state. In contrast with other potential nominees in his party who have national stature for one reason or another — Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Ted Cruz — Kasich will need to significantly expand his visibility in the coming year if he hopes to compete for his party’s nomination.
• Finally, you may have already seen this story about the Detroit dude who walks 21 miles a day to get to work. I think his situation is infuriating and sad but find his attitude inspiring. As a fellow pedestrian commuter (note: my walk is only about a mile and a half, I make it by choice, and only on days when it’s too cold to ride a bike) I think James Robertson is something of a hero. I think the issues raised by Robertson's daily trek are especially pertinent in Cincinnati; a city with a serious love of cars and a hardworking but less-than-ideal transit system. I couldn't help thinking about folks who have appeared in some of our recent stories about the working poor when I read this. Seriously, check this story out if you haven’t already.
As planet Earth drew closer and closer to the new millennium, the American cinema scene started to see a decline in a genre that was born here: The Western. That’s not to say there haven’t been any new Western films released — there have been quite a few. Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven was a hit in 1992 and even won Best Picture at the Oscars that year. But before that, in 1985, Lawrence Kasdan directed, co-wrote and produced a Western that deserves to be viewed in celebration of its 30th anniversary. That movie is Silverado.
Some of you are probably tilting your head at the name Lawrence Kasdan and wondering who he is. Well, he is responsible for movies like The Big Chill, The Accidental Tourist and for co-writing the screenplays for a couple films you might know of, like The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark. He is also the co-writer of the upcoming seventh Star Wars film. Basically, this man’s work should be a delight for anyone to watch.
Silverado tells the story of four roaming misfits who come together to battle elements of each other’s past in the small Western town of — you guessed it — Silverado. There’s the mysterious gunslinger Paden (Kevin Kline) trying to escape his past; Mal (Danny Glover), a prodigal son trying to rebuild his family’s farm; and Emmett and Jake (Scott Glenn and Kevin Costner, respectively), two brothers who do what it takes to protect their loved ones from a cattle baron (Ray Baker) that’s avenging the death of his father at the hands of Emmett.
While each plotline works wonderfully and ties perfectly into one other, for me the strongest of them is the one involving Paden. While it doesn’t fully expose everything about Paden and his past, you get just the right amount of information to stay invested in him, and you want to continue with him and see where he goes.
When Paden is first introduced, he’s left for dead with nothing but his long johns. As the film progresses, you get clues to his past and what may have happened to him. The biggest hints are in the form of an acquaintance of Paden and Silverado’s corrupt Sheriff Cobb (Brian Dennehy). Cobb tries to lure Paden into joining his posse and every time he rejects or tries to stop the wrongdoing, Cobb knows what buttons to push. He continually makes threats regarding Paden’s new friend Stella (Linda Hunt), the owner of the local saloon.
Stella is also an incredibly strong aspect of the film. She’s a strong and fierce woman who helps Paden on his journey to redemption. One of her best moments is when she becomes fully aware of Cobb using her, and she hates it. “So good people are being hurt because of me,” she says. “That makes me mad. Some people think because they're stronger or meaner, that they can push you around. I've seen a lot of that. But it's only true if you let it be.”
This film is also a real spectacle when it comes technical aspects. It features marvelous cinematography with gives the audience shots that add so much more to the story and offer great symbolism. It also features a great music score by Bruce Broughton that is very reminiscent of the works of Elmer Bernstein and the stuff he composed for Westerns.
The film was only nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Original Score and Best Sound. The sound work done for the film is brilliant. The one thing that stands out is the sound design for the guns’ sound effects. Each gun is given a distinct sound that is only associated with that particular piece. Mal’s Henry rifle sounds booming and powerful over the regular rifles of the villains. And Jake’s dual nickel-plated pistol’s sound is quick and short to show how fast he is on the draw.
Silverado is a real treat full of great characters, great set pieces and a great sense of adventure. And if none of this sold you on the film, then maybe this will: Monty Python’s John Cleese plays a Western Sheriff. Yes, you read that correctly.
Hey all. Let’s talk about news for a minute.
Now that Union Terminal looks to be on its way to renovation and Music Hall has received significant contributions toward the cost of its own fix-up, some preservationists have focused again on Memorial Hall. The building, which sits next to Music Hall on the west side of Washington Park, was designed by renowned architect Samuel Hannaford and built in 1908. Its needs are not quite as large as its gargantuan neighbor: The total cost for renovations is expected to be about $8 million, mere chump change compared to the $120 million Music Hall renovations could run. Development group 3CDC is one of the main drivers of fundraising efforts. It asked Hamilton County Commissioners yesterday for a $1.5 million contribution from the county. Though commissioners wouldn’t commit to anything just yet, Commissioner Greg Hartmann has said some contribution is likely since the building is owned by the county.
• So I’m not a beer fan overall, but I love a good porter on a cold winter day. You know what else I love on a cold winter day (like today, for example)? Cincinnati chili. Having established those facts, let’s just say I’m intrigued by a new beer debuting soon. Blank Slate Brewing Co. has created the Cincy 3-way Porter, which has subtle notes of the spices that make Cincinnati chili famous (or infamous depending on your palate). Again: I like Cincy chili. I like a good porter. But can this possibly be good? Of course I’m going to try it and find out. One note to consider: According to this story in the Business Courier, the malt used to brew the beer is smoked with the distinctive spices — they don’t go in the beer itself. That hopefully means it doesn’t taste like sipping on a serving of Cincy’s favorite meat sauce that just happens to be 7 percent alcohol by volume. Though, hey, I might be open to that, too.
• Is there a way the $2.8 billion Brent Spence Bridge project might be funded without tolls? Don’t hold your breath just yet, but anti-toll groups hope so. Anti-toll group Northern Kentucky United is touting a plan proposed by Sens. Rand Paul and Barbara Boxer that would raise money for the federal Highway Trust Fund by giving U.S. corporations tax breaks to bring more of their estimated $2 trillion in foreign profits back to the U.S. If some of that money flows back here, prodded by a tax break, it could be taxed and the receipts used on infrastructure projects like the Brent Spence Bridge. At least, that’s what Northern Kentucky United hopes. The proposal is very similar to one that President Barack Obama has tucked into his budget, which he released yesterday. The anti-toll group says that’s a sign that things could be happening on the federal level and that a plan to use tolls to pay for the bridge’s replacement is premature.
“There are details yet to be worked out, but the similarities between what the president has suggested and the bipartisan proposal out of the Senate gives us good reason to be optimistic,” said Marisa McNee of Northern Kentucky United in a statement on the legislation. “There is simply no reason to continue a rush to toll the Brent Spence Bridge when the White House and Congress appear to be moving towards an agreement on the Highway Trust Fund,” McNee concluded.
Govs. John Kasich of Ohio and Steve Beshear of Kentucky presented their plan last week for the bridge, which includes tolls as part of the funding equation. Kasich has cited the increasing costs for the project while it’s delayed — $7 million a month, by some estimates — as a reason officials should move quickly. He claims there’s little chance the federal government will be forthcoming with funds for the project. Currently, the Highway Trust Fund faces insolvency this summer if Congress doesn’t approve new sources of income for infrastructure.
• The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office and Cincinnati’s Police Department don’t reflect the area’s demographic makeup, according to data released by both departments and reported by the Cincinnati Enquirer. Hamilton County’s department is 86 percent white and 12 percent black, though the county itself is 62 percent white and 26 percent black. A similar disparity exists in Cincinnati, which is 48 percent white and 45 percent black. Yet its police force is 67 percent white and 30 percent black. Both gaps match up with many other police forces around the country. A study by USA Today found that 80 departments out of 282 in cities with more than 100,000 people had greater than a 10 percentage-point gap between the proportion of black officers and black residents.
• Yesterday was a day for budgets. In addition to the release of President Obama’s budget proposal (more on that in a minute), Gov. John Kasich also released his financial proposals for Ohio’s next two years. Kasich looks to cut income taxes while raising sales taxes, among other moves, which could place more burden on the state’s low-income workers. Kasich has also suggested an increased tax exemption for some of those workers, but that exemption is small and may only account for two or three bucks more in a worker’s paycheck.
On the income tax side, Kasich seeks to cut the state’s rate by 23 percent over the next two years and end the state’s income tax for 900,000 business owners grossing less than $2 million a year. To pay for that, the state’s base sales tax rate will go up to 6.25 percent plus county and local sales taxes. In Hamilton County, the sales tax rate will go up to 7.5 percent. This continues a trend toward relying more on sales tax to fill the state's coffers, something progressive groups say has made the state's tax system more and more regressive over the last few years.
All told, the state will take in $500 million less over the next two years, a nice hefty tax cut Kasich can point to in order to rally the Republican base should he decide to run for president in 2016. You can read more about the finer points of Kasich’s budget in our story here.
• Finally, here’s a breakdown of President Obama’s wide-ranging, $4 trillion budget proposal. Obama looks to raise taxes on corporations and wealthy citizens and give middle class families tax breaks. He calls that plan “middle class economics,” though staunch conservative (and fellow Miami alum) House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan has his own name for it: “envy economics.” Those two monikers may foreshadow another long, arduous budget process between Obama and a mostly Republican Congress.
Other points of Obama’s budget: He has proposed the aforementioned plan for paying for infrastructure, a pay raise for federal workers and military personnel and a number of other proposals you can peruse in the story above. Also worth checking out: this breakdown of the budget by federal departments. Let’s play a little game of “one of these things is not like the other.” That’s right: Discretionary spending at the Department of Defense is a mind-blowing $585 billion. That’s more than every other department combined. Obama’s budget increases the DOD’s budget by 4 percent. That’s $23 billion — enough to increase the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s budget by almost 50 percent. Just leaving that right there for you to chew on.
Gov. John Kasich is touting half a million dollars in tax cuts in his new budget proposal, released Feb. 2. But Ohio’s tax scheme could get more regressive if state lawmakers take it up as is.
The budget proposal would lower income taxes by 23 percent over the next two years and pay for it by raising sales taxes by .5 percent. All told, the proposal means $500 million less in taxes for Ohio residents.
Critics say lower-income residents will benefit least from the proposal. Kasich’s budget allows for a tax exemption increase for as many as 3 million low-income Ohio workers. But that exemption would mean only an extra few dollars per paycheck for most low-income families, according to most analyses. Another part of Kasich's budget proposal would require those making just over the poverty level (a bit more than $11,500 for a single person) to pay premiums on Medicaid. Those premiums would start at about $10 to $20.
Among the biggest moves in Kasich's proposal: a plan that would effectively eliminate the state’s income tax for more than 900,000 people who own small businesses grossing less than $2 million a year.
Studies suggest that the bottom fifth of Ohio earners pay nearly 7 percent of their income in sales taxes, while the top fifth of Ohio earners pay less than 1 percent of their income. A study conducted by liberal-leaning think tank Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy found Ohio to have the 18th most regressive tax structure in the country.
"The Ohio income tax is critical to a fair tax system and one that pays for education, health and other key services," said Wendy Patton, a director at Policy Matters Ohio, in a January statement about the state’s tax structure. "Attempts to weaken it will either redistribute income from the poor and the middle class to the rich, or cut needed public services."
When Kasich took office, the income tax rate was nearly 6 percent and Ohio’s sales tax was 5.5 percent, though state lawmakers boosted it to 5.75 percent in 2013. Under Kasich’s new budget proposal, income tax will be just over 4 percent and sales tax will be 6.25 percent.
Conservatives have also criticized the budget. Critics on the right, including tea party-aligned state lawmakers, say most of the changes aren’t cuts, they’re “tax shifting” that doesn’t result in the state spending less money.
Kasich’s plan does call for some measures that could help lower-income residents, including raising the income level at which parents can qualify for subsidies on child care. Other parts of the budget progressives might find more amenable include an increase on taxes associated with fracking.
Correction: due to a typo, an earlier version of this post said Ohio's sales tax rate will be 6.5 percent. This has been corrected to 6.25 percent.