by German Lopez
82 days ago
Posted In: News
at 03:48 PM | Permalink
Governor not pursuing waiver for restrictions as economy supposedly recovers
Gov. John Kasich’s refusal to seek another waiver for federal regulations on food stamps will force 18,000 current recipients in Hamilton County to meet work requirements if they want the benefits to continue.
Under federal law, “able-bodied” childless adults receiving food
stamps are required to work or attend work training for 20 hours a week.
But when the Great Recession began, the federal government handed out
waivers to all states, including Ohio, so they could provide food
assistance without placing burdens on under- and unemployed populations.
Kasich isn’t asking for a renewal of that waiver, which means
134,000 Ohioans in most Ohio counties, including 18,000 in Hamilton
County, will have to meet the 20-hours-per-week work requirement to get
their $200 a month in food aid starting in January, after recipients go through a three-month limit on benefits for those not meeting the work requirements.The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services explained earlier in September that the waiver is no longer necessary in all but 16 counties because Ohio’s economy is now recovering from the Great Recession. Two weeks later, the August jobs report put Ohio’s unemployment rate at a one-year high of 7.3 percent after the state only added 0.6 percent more jobs between August 2012 and August this year.
At the same time, the federal government appears ready to allow stimulus funding for food stamp programs to expire in November. The extra money was adopted
in the onset of the Great Recession to provide increased aid to those hit
hardest by the economic downturn.
That means 18,000 food stamp recipients in Hamilton County
will have to meet a 20-hour-per-week work requirements to receive $189
per month — $11 less than current levels — for food aid starting in
November. Assuming three meals a day, that adds up to slightly more
than $2 per meal.
The $11 loss might not seem like much, but Tim McCartney,
chief operating officer at the Hamilton County Department of Job and
Family Services (HCDJFS), says it adds up for no- and low-income individuals.
“Food assistance at the federal level is called SNAP,
which is Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. It’s not designed to
be the entire food budget for yourself or your family. It’s designed to
be a supplement. So anything you lose to a supplement, you obviously
didn’t have enough in the first place,” McCartney says.
HCDJFS already helps some recipients of other welfare
programs meet work requirements through local partnerships. But to avoid
further straining those partners with a rush of 18,000 new
job-searchers, the county agency is also allowing food stamp recipients
to set up their own job and job training opportunities with other local
organizations, including neighborhood groups, churches and community
McCartney says he’s also advising people to pursue job opportunities at Cincinnati’s SuperJobs Center,
which attempts to link those looking for work with employers. McCartney
says the center has plenty of job openings, but many people are unaware
of the opportunities.
“This population sometimes has additional barriers with
previous convictions or drug and mental health issues that would
eventually exempt them, but for others, there are plenty of
opportunities right now that we’d like to connect them with,” he says.
Conservatives, especially Republicans, argue the work
requirements are necessary to ensure people don’t take advantage of the
welfare system to gain easy benefits. But progressives are concerned the
restrictions will unfairly hurt the poorest Ohioans and the economy.
Progressive think tank Policy Matters Ohio previously found every $1
increase in government food aid produces $1.70 in economic
At the federal level, Republican legislators, including
local Reps. Steve Chabot and Brad Wenstrup, are seeking further cuts to the food stamp program through H.R. 3102, which would slash
$39 billion over 10 years from the program. Part of the savings in the
bill come from stopping states from obtaining waivers on work
Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio
Association of Foodbanks, decried the bill in a statement: “Congress
shouldn’t be turning to Ohio’s poorest people to find savings —
especially children and others who are unable to work for their own
food. The proposal the Ohio members of Congress supported is immoral,
and our lawmakers must work together to represent all their
constituents. No one should be in the business of causing hunger, yet
that’s the choice the Ohio members of Congress made today.”
The legislation is unlikely to make it through the U.S. Senate, but President Barack Obama promised to veto the bill if it comes to his desk.Correction: This story previously said the restrictions start removing “able-bodied” childless adults from the rolls in October instead of January.
by German Lopez
41 days ago
Posted In: News
at 11:19 AM | Permalink
LGBT groups call for marriage equality to bring standard to state and local taxes
The Ohio Department of Taxation this week released
separate tax forms that will allow gay couples who live in the state but
got married in another state to jointly file for taxes at the federal
level. But because of Ohio’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage,
same-sex couples won’t be able to jointly file for taxes at the state
or local level.
Although the move is being received as a step forward for
Ohio’s gay couples, some LGBT groups say the discrepancy between
different levels of government shows the need to push for marriage
equality in Ohio.
Why Marriage Matters Ohio, which is trying to educate
Ohioans on the benefits of same-sex marriage, pointed out
the discrepancy in an emailed statement on Wednesday.
“This is why marriage equality matters in Ohio. This is
why we’re working to build support for affording all Ohio families the
protections and responsibilities that only marriage offers,” wrote Elyzabeth Holdford, executive director of Equality Ohio and board chair
of Why Marriage Matters Ohio.
FreedomOhio, which is attempting to get same-sex marriage
on the November 2014 ballot, also criticized the discrepancy on
“While many will appreciate the extra tax benefits, this
separate and unequal treatment of families is unfair, unequal and is not
the treatment we seek,” said Ian James, co-founder of FreedomOhio, in a
statement. “FreedomOhio is committed to bringing equal rights to all
Beyond the issue of equal rights, allowing same-sex
marriages in Ohio could generate economic activity. A study conducted by
Bill LaFayette, founder of Regionomics, LLC, found
marriage equality could produce $100-$126 million in economic growth
within three years in the state and $8.2 million in the same time span
in Hamilton County.
The new tax form for same-sex couples can be found here.
by German Lopez
41 days ago
Motion cites infant mortality, unemployment and economic worth as major issues
Councilman Wendell Young and five other council members on Oct. 30 signed a motion that asks the city administration to budget $2 million to address racial disparities in Cincinnati.
The motion cites three statistical disparities: Infant
mortality rates for black babies are three times the rate for white
babies; the unemployment rate for black residents is two to three times
the rate for white residents; and the black population only makes up 1
percent of the Cincinnati area’s economic worth despite making up nearly
half of the city’s population.
“As the City of Cincinnati invests in infrastructure to
support economic development and job growth, in developments that
attract new businesses, and in job retention and growth, it is of
critical importance that all members of the Cincinnati community
participate in our progress and prosperity,” Young’s motion states.
Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls and council members Pam Thomas,
Laure Quinlivan, Chris Seelbach and Yvette Simpson joined Young in
signing the motion.
The motion asks the city administration to budget $500,000 to each of four organizations in fiscal year
2015: the Urban League of
Greater Cincinnati, the Hamilton County Community Action Agency, the
African American Chamber of Commerce and the Center for Closing the
Health Gap. The money will “support minority business startups and
entrepreneurship, job training and workforce development, and access to
healthy foods and health care,” according to the motion.
The proposal comes as the city administration begins putting together a disparity study
to gauge whether the administration can and should favorably target
minority- and women-owned businesses through Cincinnati’s business
contracts. The results for that study will come back in February 2015.
It’s unclear how much weight the motion will carry in the
upcoming weeks. On Nov. 5, voters will elect a new mayor and City
Council. The next city administration and council could have a
completely different approach — or no approach at all — to addressing
racial disparity issues.
For more information on the upcoming election, check out CityBeat’s coverage and endorsements here.
by German Lopez
41 days ago
Groups contest Gov. John Kasich’s decision to bypass legislature
The Ohio Supreme Court on Thursday expedited the 1851
Center for Constitutional Law’s challenge against the federally funded
Medicaid expansion, which Republican Gov. John Kasich pushed through the Controlling Board, a seven-member legislative panel, despite resistance from the Ohio legislature.
The case will decide whether Kasich was constitutionally
allowed to bypass the legislature to expand Medicaid eligibility to more
low-income Ohioans. The 1851 Center says the Controlling Board isn’t
allowed to go against the will of the legislature. The Kasich
administration argues the Controlling Board can unilaterally accept
With the case now expedited, both sides will submit their
arguments on the merits of the case to the state’s highest court by Dec.
Kasich tried for most of 2013 to get the expansion
approved by the Ohio House and Senate, but he couldn’t convince
Republican legislators, who control both chambers, to approve the plan.
But instead of accepting defeat, Kasich asked the
Controlling Board to take up federal funds for the expansion. The board
approved the funds on Oct. 21.
The legal complaint was filed on Oct. 22 on behalf of
Republican State Reps. Matt Lynch, Ron Young, Andy Thompson, Ron Maag,
John Becker and Ron Hood, Cleveland Right to Life and Right to Life of
Kasich, in a rare alliance with Democrats, says the
Medicaid expansion is necessary to insure more low-income Ohioans and
obtain federal Obamacare dollars that would go to other states if Ohio
declined the expansion.
But Republican legislators say they’re concerned about the
government’s involvement in the health care system and whether the
federal government can afford to pay for the Medicaid expansion.
Under Obamacare, states are asked to expand Medicaid
eligibility to reach anyone up to 138 percent of the federal poverty
level, or individuals with an annual income of $15,856.20 or less. If
states accept, the federal government will pay for the entire expansion
through fiscal year 2016 then gradually phase down its payments to 90
percent of the expansion. In comparison, the Kaiser Family Foundation found the federal government paid for nearly 64 percent of Ohio’s Medicaid program in fiscal year 2013.
The expansion would fill a so-called “coverage gap” under
Obamacare and Ohio law. Without it, parents with incomes between 90
percent and 100 percent of the federal poverty level and childless
adults with incomes below 100 percent of the federal poverty level won’t
qualify for either Obamacare’s tax credits or Medicaid.
The Health Policy Institute of Ohio (HPIO) previously found
the expansion would insure between 300,000 and 400,000 Ohioans through
fiscal year 2015. If the expansion is approved beyond that, HPIO says it
would generate $1.8 billion for Ohio and insure nearly half a million
Ohioans over the next decade.
If the Ohio Supreme Court upholds the Controlling Board’s
decision, the Medicaid expansion will go into effect in 2014 and cost
the federal government nearly $2.6 billion, according to the Ohio Department of Medicaid.
City Hall continues underfunding human services despite historical goals and pressing needs
0 Comments · Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Since 2004, the city has failed to meet its own goals for human services funding, leaving some agencies behind.
by German Lopez
41 days ago
Posted In: News
at 10:44 AM | Permalink
Previous study linked high savings to economic mobility
Mayor Mark Mallory announced on Thursday that the Bank On
Greater Cincinnati initiative during its first two years reached 1,700
residents previously without a bank account, which could help boost
their economic mobility. The residents kept an average of $701 in their
The initiative connects local residents with traditional
financial services so they’re less reliant on check cashing and payday
lending businesses. The average user of payday lending services spends
$900 a year in fees, according to the mayor’s office.
Of course, the initiative benefits banks as well by
connecting them to more potential customers who otherwise might forgo
traditional banking services.
Bank On Greater Cincinnati is a partnership between
Cincinnati, Covington, Newport, SmartMoney, the Cincinnati branch of the
Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and 13 participating banks.
SmartMoney now manages Bank On in conjunction with Greater
Cincinnati Saves, which encourages individuals to make a pledge to grow
their savings. In the seven months that both initiatives worked
together, 490 people took the pledge, a 220-percent increase over
previous years, according to the mayor’s office.
“We are helping move people into the financial mainstream
so they can begin to save and build assets,” Mallory said in a
statement. “I want to thank all of our partners that help make this
initiative so successful. Bank On will continue to help families
establish bank accounts and receive strong financial education to help
them manage their money.”
A November 2009 study from the Economic Mobility Project found
a connection between savings and economic mobility. According to the
study, high personal savings can greatly benefit both an individual
during his or her lifetime or the individual’s children.
“Seventy-one percent of children born to high-saving,
low-income parents move up from the bottom income quartile over a
generation, compared to only 50 percent of children of low-saving,
low-income parents,” the study found.
The improvement could add up for Cincinnati, which is
still mired in troubling economic indicators despite some economic
progress in the past few years. More than half of the city’s children lived in poverty
in 2012, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Another study released in
July by economists at Harvard University and University of California,
Berkeley, found Cincinnati ranked 650 among 728 markets analyzed for
upward economic mobility.
by German Lopez
41 days ago
Election Issue hits stands, ballot restrictions move forward, Cranley helped move jobs
CityBeat’s full Election Issue is in stands now. Check out our feature stories on three remarkable City Council challengers: Mike Moroski, Michelle Dillingham and Greg Landsman. Find the rest of our election coverage, along with our endorsements, here.
The Ohio legislature is working through a bill that would limit ballot access
for minor parties, which argue the petitioning and voting requirements
are meant to help Gov. John Kasich’s chances of re-election in 2014. The
Ohio House narrowly passed the bill
yesterday with looser restrictions than those set by the Ohio Senate
earlier in the month, but a legislative error in the House means neither
chamber will hammer out the final details until they reconvene next week.
Republicans say the bill is necessary to set some basic standards for
who can get on the ballot. Democrats have joined with minor parties in
calling the bill the “John Kasich Re-election Protection Act” because it
would supposedly protect Kasich from tea party and other third-party
challengers after his support for the federally funded Medicaid expansion turned members of his conservative base against him.
As an attorney and lobbyist at Keating, Muething & Klekamp (KMK), mayoral candidate John Cranley helped payroll company Paycor finalize plans to move its headquarters
— and 450 to 500 jobs with it — from Queensgate in Cincinnati to
Norwood, Ohio. Specifically, KMK and several of its employees, including
Cranley, helped Paycor and Norwood set up a tax credit deal to
incentivize the company’s relocation. The Cranley campaign says he was
just doing his job after Paycor went to KMK, not the other way around.
But supporters of Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, Cranley’s opponent in the
mayoral race, say he shouldn’t be helping companies leave the city he
wants to lead. Paycor’s move in 2014 means the city will have to take
back some of the money it gave the company, through two tax deals that
Cranley approved while on City Council, to encourage it to stay in Cincinnati through 2015. Cranley received a $1,100 campaign contribution from Paycor CEO Bob Coughlin on Aug. 20.
Opinion:• “Which Came First, the Chicken or the Streetcar?”• “The Folly of Privatization.”
The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport
(CVG) board travels widely and often dines at public expense, according
to an investigation from The Cincinnati Enquirer. Among other findings, The Enquirer
found the CVG board, which is considered a governmental agency, has a
much more lenient travel expense policy for itself than it does for
staff members, and it sometimes uses airport funds to pay for liquor. On
Twitter, Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Hartman called the findings outrageous and demanded resignations.
Northside property crime is on the rise,
and police and residents are taking notice. Business leaders in the
neighborhood are concerned the negative stigma surrounding the crime
will hurt their businesses.
With federal stimulus funding expiring in November, 1.8
million Ohioans will get less food assistance starting tomorrow. The
news comes after 18,000 in Hamilton County were hit by additional
restrictions this month, as CityBeat covered in further detail here.
Hamilton County commissioners yesterday agreed to pay $883,000 to cover legal fees
for Judge Tracie Hunter and her legal team. The Hamilton County Board
of Elections racked up the bill for the county by repeatedly appealing
Hunter’s demands that the board count more than one-third of previously
discarded provisional ballots, which were enough to turn the juvenile
court election in Hunter’s favor. Hunter’s opponent, John Williams,
later won a separate appointment and election to get on the juvenile
Metro, Cincinnati’s local bus service, announced it’s relaxing time limits on transfer tickets, which should make it easier to catch a bus without sprinting to the stop.
Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bancorp laid off nearly 500 employees in the past six months, with some of the layoffs hitting Cincinnati. The bank blames the job cuts on slowdowns in the mortgage business.
A new study finds cheaters are more likely to strike in the afternoon.
Early voting is now underway. Find your voting location here.
Normal voting hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., although some days are
extended. If you don’t vote early, you can still vote on Election Day
(Nov. 5). Check out CityBeat’s coverage and endorsements for the 2013 election here.
Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy• News: @CityBeat_News• Music: @CityBeatMusic• German Lopez: @germanrlopez
by German Lopez
42 days ago
Mayoral candidate represented company as it moved headquarters to Norwood
As an attorney and lobbyist at Keating, Muething &
Klekamp (KMK), mayoral candidate John Cranley helped payroll company
Paycor finalize plans to move its headquarters — and 450 to 500 jobs
with it — from Queensgate in Cincinnati to Norwood, Ohio.
Specifically, KMK helped Paycor and Norwood set up a tax credit deal to incentivize the company’s relocation. Throughout the
process, the law firm called on several of its employees, including
Cranley, to help with the negotiations.
For Paycor, the move comes after more than two decades in
Cincinnati. The company originally looked in Cincinnati for bigger
headquarters with better parking options, but ultimately couldn’t find a
location to its liking, according to a May 2012 memo
from the city manager. So when Paycor found a location outside city
limits and worked out a tax incentive package with Norwood and Ohio, it
decided to move.
Cities and states often deploy incentive packages, ranging
from property tax abatements to deductions on income taxes, to attract
and retain companies. Pure Romance, a $100-million-plus “relationship
enhancement” company, recently agreed to move from Loveland, Ohio, to
downtown Cincinnati after securing such a tax deal with the city.
Paycor broke ground on its new headquarters in December and
plans to move there next spring. The transition will pull 450 to 500
employees out of Cincinnati, and the company plans to add another 250
to 300 employees over time at its new facilities.
Cranley campaign manager Jay Kincaid says Cranley and KMK
won’t comment on the details of their work with Paycor or other clients
for ethical reasons. But Kincaid says Cranley was just doing his job
after Paycor went to KMK, not the other way around.
“In the legal profession you’re asked to represent
clients, and you do it to the best of your ability,” Kincaid says. “At
the time I don’t think (Cranley) was even running for office. The firm
came to him and said, ‘Hey, we have a job that we need you to work on.’
And he did the work, just like anyone else would at their job.”
Norwood City Council approved the deal with Paycor on Oct.
23, 2012. Cranley announced his mayoral campaign three weeks later, on
Cranley’s critics argue that a mayoral candidate shouldn’t be helping companies leave the city he wants to lead.
“It is disappointing that John (Cranley) helped Paycor
leave the city with its over 450 tax-paying jobs. His efforts undercut
the city’s efforts to retain jobs and businesses,” said Vice Mayor
Roxanne Qualls, who is running against Cranley, in an emailed statement.
The move comes despite Cincinnati’s various attempts to
hang on to Paycor, including previous tax deals. In 2001,
then-Councilman Cranley and the rest of City Council approved tax
incentives to keep the company in Cincinnati, retain its 142 jobs at the
time and create another 25. The city administration estimated the deal
would cost the city $225,750 and generate $546,000 in net tax revenue
over five years.In 2006, Cranley and seven council members approved another incentive package to further secure Paycor’s stay in Cincinnati.
But the deals also required Paycor to remain in Cincinnati
through 2015. Since Paycor’s move violates the agreement, the city
administration says it plans to claw back some of the tax benefits given
to the company.
In other words, Cranley in 2001 and 2006 approved tax deals with Paycor that the company, with his help, is now set to break.
City spokesperson Meg Olberding says the clawback process
will begin after Paycor moves to Norwood in 2014. So if Cranley is
elected by voters on Nov. 5, he would be mayor as the city is taking
back some of the money it gave away.
Although the city is taking a hit, Cranley’s relations
with the payroll company appear unscathed. Paycor CEO Bob Coughlin
contributed $1,100 to Cranley’s campaign on Aug. 20, according to
campaign finance reports.Updated with more details about the tax deals between Cincinnati and Paycor.
Small political parties in Ohio say S.B. 193 will limit their influence over the 2014 governor’s race
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 30, 2013
S.B. 193 could make it too difficult for minor parties to get their candidates on the Ohio ballot.
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Mike Moroski is the biggest surprise of
the City Council campaigns.