by Nick Swartsell
Posted In: News
at 10:37 AM | Permalink
Supporters cheer the mayor's focus on childhood poverty, but critics say Cranley's proposals don't go far enough
Mayor John Cranley’s State of the City speech earlier this week touched on a number of issues the mayor has deemed priorities in the coming year — among them, the city’s sky-high childhood poverty rate. Last year, according the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, 44.3 percent of the city’s children lived in poverty. That’s down from over 50 percent in 2012, when Cincinnati ranked second-highest in the country, but still double the national average of about 22 percent and nearly double Ohio’s average of 23 percent.Cranley says he wants to find ways to lift 10,000 of Cincinnati’s 30,000 poor kids out of poverty in the next five years. To do that, he’s proposing convening a task force that will present recommendations for reaching that goal. The task force will present those recommendations June 30, 2016 — the day before the city’s new fiscal year.Is that goal realistic? And does Cranley’s proposal to create a task force that will research ways to address childhood poverty in Cincinnati go far enough? Some say no, citing other Cranley proposals, including a parks charter amendment that would spend millions in property tax revenues to create new recreational attractions, that will spend much more money on things critics say are less pressing or effective. Meanwhile, others applaud the fact the mayor is focusing on the problem and say they are willing to give his ideas time to play out.City Councilwoman Yvette Simpson is among the critics of Cranley’s approach. In an Oct. 6 editorial for The Cincinnati Enquirer, Simpson said the mayor’s big speech left out some key considerations — from the University of Cincinnati police shooting death of Samuel DuBose and ongoing racial issues in the city to progress made on the city’s streetcar system. One of the speech’s big shortfalls, Simpson says, is the lack of a serious plan to address poverty in the city.“For those individuals living in poverty and organizations actively working on the root causes and effects of institutional, inter-generational poverty everyday, organizing a ‘summit’ and expecting it will lead to a one-third reduction in our childhood poverty rate in 5 years is, at best, out of touch and at worst, disrespectful,” Simpson wrote in the piece. Simpson said Cranley’s statements are surprising considering the recent fight between the mayor’s office and City Council over human services funding in the city’s budget. Democrats on Council pushed for more money for programs traditionally funded through human services in the budget to get the city back on track toward devoting at least 1 percent of the budget toward such programs. Council passed a resolution last fall asking the city to double funding for traditional human services programs. While making this year’s city budget, however, City Manager Harry Black ignored that resolution and put much of that money in new programs not usually associated with traditional human services. Meanwhile, federal money usually given to other programs was directed toward the mayor’s Hand Up Initiative, which looks to get more poor Cincinnatians into jobs making around $10 an hour through programs like Cincinnati Cooks! and Cincinnati Works. Those dynamics caused a big battle over the city budget.Community activist Mike Moroski sits on the steering committee for Hand Up. He’s also the executive director of UpSpring, a nonprofit dedicated to addressing the city’s childhood poverty problem. Moroski says he’s not always been a Cranley fan, but his time working on Hand Up has convinced him the mayor is responsive to input and new ideas. He says he’s willing to give Cranley’s anti-poverty ideas time to bear fruit.“I voted for [Cranley’s 2013 mayoral opponent] Roxanne Qualls,” Moroski says. “I didn't think John Cranley would be a very good mayor.”Moroski says he still disagrees with Cranley on some issues, including the streetcar, but says those issues aren’t as important as addressing the city’s big poverty problem. He says he believes the mayor — and City Council — are serious about working toward solving that problem and that he hopes city officials can work past politics together toward that end. “Will Mayor Cranley's new Task Force do just that? I have no idea, but I am willing to be hopeful and wait and see,” Moroski said in an email yesterday. “I am not willing to dismiss it right out of the gate. Did he spend enough time on it last evening? I don't know — I am not going to pass judgment because it wasn't talked about enough — I am just happy it was talked about.” The city has made some efforts to address its deep economic divisions, including a recent raft of ordinances that would help address the racial and gender disparities in its contracting practices. However, Cincinnati is still a place of stunning inequalities when it comes to the economic conditions of its neighborhoods, and ways to address those inequalities look to remain front and center in conversations about the city’s future."Mayor Cranley wants 2016 to be the year that we dig in and have real conversations about poverty and take action," Moroski says. "And I will support that. I will also support any initiative that any council member proposes that does the same. And, as I said, if any of these initiatives appear to be hollow, then I will pass judgment. But not until I see what plays out."
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 10:08 AM | Permalink
Poverty skews school funding, "stand your ground" advances, tax-free weekend proposed
Urban schools spend less on basic education for a typical student
than previously assumed after accounting for the cost of poverty,
according to a Nov. 19 report from three school advocacy groups. After
weighing the extra cost of educating an impoverished student, the report
finds major urban school districts lose more than 39 percent in
per-pupil education spending and poor rural school districts lose nearly
24 percent, while wealthy suburban schools lose slightly more than 14
percent. In the report, Cincinnati Public Schools drop from a
pre-weighted rank of No. 17 most per-pupil education funding out of 605
school districts in the state to No. 55, while Indian Hills Schools
actually rise from No. 11 to No. 4.
An Ohio House committee approved sweeping gun legislation
that would enact “stand your ground” in the state and automatically
recognize concealed-carry licenses from other states. The “stand your
ground” portion of the bill would remove a duty to retreat before using
deadly force in self-defense in all areas in which a person is lawfully
allowed; current Ohio law only removes the duty to retreat in a person’s
home or vehicle. The proposal is particularly controversial following
Trayvon Martin’s death to George Zimmerman in Florida, where a “stand
your ground” law exists but supposedly played a minor role in the trial
that let Zimmerman go free. To become law, the proposal still needs to
make it through the full House, Senate and governor.A state senator is proposing a sales-tax-free weekend for back-to-school shopping
to encourage a shot of spending in a stagnant economy and lure shoppers
from outside the state. Eighteen states have similar policies, but none
border Ohio, according to University of Cincinnati’s Economics Center.
Michael Jones of UC’s Economics Center says the idea is to use tax-free school supplies to lure out-of-state shoppers, who are then more likely to buy other items that aren’t tax exempt while they visit Ohio.
An Ohio Senate committee approved new limits on the Controlling Board,
a seven-member legislative panel that has grown controversial following its approval of the federally funded Medicaid expansion
despite disapproval from the Ohio legislature. Gov. John Kasich went through the Controlling Board
after he failed to persuade his fellow Republicans in the legislature
to back the expansion for much of the year. The proposal now must make
it through the full Senate, House and governor to become law.
Cincinnati’s Metro bus service plans to adopt more routes similar to bus rapid transit (BRT)
following the success of a new route established this year. Traditional
BRT lines involve bus-only lanes, but Metro’s downsized version only
makes less stops in a more straightforward route. CityBeat covered the lite BRT route in further detail here.
Cincinnati obtained a 90 out of 100 in the 2013 Municipal Equality Index from the Human Rights Campaign, giving the city a 13-point bump compared to 2012’s mixed score.
A bill approved by U.S. Congress last week could direct millions in federal research dollars to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
A UC study found a higher minimum wage doesn’t lead to less crime.
Gov. Kasich will deliver UC’s commencement address this year.
The new owner of the Ingalls Building in downtown Cincinnati plans to convert some of the office space to condominiums.
Here are some images of the Cincinnati that never was.
Someone invented a hand-cranked GIF player.
Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy• News: @CityBeat_News• Music: @CityBeatMusic• German Lopez: @germanrlopez
0 Comments · Wednesday, July 31, 2013
WEDNESDAY JULY 24: It’s hard to find a job that pays $40,000
and allows you to be you, because most people with money are
insufferable to be around.
ACLU: Pay-to-stay policies harm low-income inmates, raise little money for county jails
0 Comments · Wednesday, June 26, 2013
The Hamilton County Jail charges its
inmates a fee for incarceration, and a new report from the American
Civil Liberties Union of Ohio (ACLU) suggests the practice harms
low-income inmates and raises little money for the county.
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 02:41 PM | Permalink
State follows nationwide trend between wealthiest and poorest
Occupy Wall Street may have been onto something. A new report
from left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) found
Ohio’s income gap — the income difference between the rich and poor — is
wide and growing.
Since the 1970s, the poorest 20 percent saw no change in real
income, the middle 20 percent gained 21.1 percent, the top 20 percent
gained 50.6 percent and the top 5 percent gained 85.1 percent.
In terms of real dollars, low-income and middle-income
Ohioans have actually seen their income drop since the 1990s. The drop caused a “lost
decade” for Ohio’s lower and middle classes, according to the report.
The bottom 20 percent saw a 6.9 percent drop in real income from the
late 1990s to the mid-2000s, while the middle 20 percent saw a 2.9
percent drop. Real incomes for the top 20 percent and top 5 percent
remained the same.
The shifts have caused a startling difference in real
income, which the report calculated by looking at real dollars after federal taxes and including the value of the Earned Income Tax Credit, housing subsidies and food stamps. The poorest 20 percent make on average about $20,500, and the
middle 20 percent make on average about $58,100. Meanwhile, the top 5
percent make about $221,800 — 10.8 times as much as the bottom 20
percent and 3.8 times as much as the middle 20 percent.
Real dollars are a measurement used to gauge the value of
money and income after inflation. If a family sees its income in real
dollars drop, it means income increases, if they exist, are not keeping up with
The widening income gap is part of a nationwide trend. In
comparison to other states, Ohio mostly did better than the national
average. Ohio was not included in any of the six top 10 ranks for
inequality, which ranked states for rises in inequality during different time periods. During the late
2000s, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Georgia and New York had the
greatest gaps between the wealthiest and poorest. In the same time
period, New Mexico, California, Georgia, Mississippi and Arizona had the
biggest gaps between the wealthiest and middle.
Part of the cause for the widening gap is the recent
recession, but the CBPP report found that the wealthiest have seen their
incomes rise again in the recession’s aftermath, while middle and lower
incomes have not. The report also blamed government policies —
deregulation, trade liberalization, the weakening safety net, the lack
of effective laws regarding collective bargaining and the declining real
value of the minimum wage — and the expansion of investment incomes,
which the CBPP says “primarily accrue to those at the top of the income
The report finished with some suggestions for states:
raise minimum wage and index it for inflation, improve unemployment
insurance systems, make state tax systems more progressive and
strengthen safety nets.
Policy Matters Ohio, which pointed to the findings in a
statement, says the report warrants action. “Poor and middle-income
families are seeing their income fall in real dollars and relative to
higher earners,” said Amy Hanauer, executive director of Policy Matters
Ohio, in the statement. “When households already subsisting on less than
$23,000 a year see their incomes drop, that means hunger, instability,
poor school performance and worse. Ohio needs to do more to improve the
lives of families in this state.”
Little-known facts and the big lie of supply-side economics
6 Comments · Wednesday, April 20, 2011
For three decades the United States has conducted a massive economic experiment, testing a theory known as supply-side economics. The theory goes like this: Lower tax rates will encourage more investment, which in turn will mean more jobs and greater prosperity — so much so that tax revenues will go up, despite lower rates.