0 Comments · Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Gov. John Kasich’s 2014-15 budget
contains a few surprises for progressives — some pleasant, some not —
including a proposal to take up the Affordable Care Act’s incentive to
0 Comments · Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Fast-food giant Burger King admitted that some of its beef
patties sold in the U.K. contained traces of horsemeat thanks to a
negligent supplier, although it insists those patties never made it to
restaurants. WORLD -2
Ohio no longer grants driver’s licenses to children of illegal immigrants despite federal executive action
0 Comments · Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Ever Portillo is legally allowed to live
and work in the United States, but the state of Ohio won’t let him
obtain a driver’s license.
by German Lopez
Petition against privatization, Kasich sales tax hurts many, USquare development criticized
Council Member P.G. Sittenfeld is circulating a small
business petition to stop Cincinnati from privatizing parking services.
Sittenfeld threw his support behind the petition in a statement:
“Individual citizens have made clear that they are overwhelmingly
against outsourcing our parking system. Now we're going to show that
small businesses feel the same way. I hope that when council sees that
the small businesses that are the engine of our city are strongly
against outsourcing our parking, we can then nix the proposal
immediately.” The petition asks city officials “to find a smart,
resourceful, sustainable alternative to address the budget situation.”
City Manager Milton Dohoney says parking privatization is necessary to avoid laying off 344 city workers.
Gov. John Kasich’s expanded sales tax is going to hurt a lot of people.
The tax is being expanded to apply to many items included in households’ monthly budgets, such as cable television, laundry services and
haircuts. The revenue from the sales tax expansion will be used to cut
the state income tax by 20 percent across the board, lower the sales tax
from 5.5 percent to 5 percent and slightly boost county coffers.
City Council and local residents are not impressed
with the USquare development. At a City Council meeting Tuesday, Vice
Mayor Roxanne Qualls described the development: “I have to say that it
is underwhelming. And that’s about the kindest thing I can say about it.
And also really repeats, on many different levels, virtually all of
the mistakes that have ever been made in the city and in neighborhoods
when it comes to creating public spaces.” But architect Graham Kalbli
said he’s excited about the plan: “Because we’ve taken a vacant strip of
land and really made kind of a living room for the Clifton Heights
community. We wanted to do that, that was one of our overriding goals.”
The Hamilton County Board of Elections is subpoenaing
19 voters who are suspected of voting twice in the November election.
Most of the voters being investigated filed provisional ballots then
showed up to vote on Election Day.
David Mann is officially running for City Council. The Democrat has served as a council member, mayor and congressman in the past.
Traffic congestion isn’t just bad for drivers; it’s also
bad for the environment and economy. The Annual Urban Mobility Report
from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute found
traffic congestion cost Cincinnati $947 million in 2011 and produced
an an extra 56 billion pounds of carbon dioxide nationwide.
Leslie Ghiz is taking the judge’s seat a little early.
The former city council member was elected to the Hamilton County
Common Pleas Court in November, but she was appointed to the seat early by Gov. John Kasich to replace Dennis Helmick, who
retired at the end of 2012.
The magic of capitalism: Delta is already matching a low-cost carrier’s fares to Denver at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.
The U.S. Postal Service is ending Saturday mail delivery
starting Aug. 1. The Postal Service has been dealing with financial
problems ever since a 2006 mandate from U.S. Congress forced the mail
delivery agency to pre-fund health care benefits for future retirees.
Riddled with gridlock, Congress has done nothing to help since the
mandate was put in place. This will be the first time the Postal Service
doesn’t deliver mail on Saturdays since 1863.
It’s unlikely zombies could be cured by love, but it’s possible they could be cured by science.
The next Michael Jordan has been discovered:
by German Lopez
Cincinnati commuters spent an extra 37 hours on road due to traffic
Traffic can be awful — not just for drivers, but economies
and the environment as well. A study released Tuesday by the Texas A&M Institute
of Transportation found Cincinnati lost about $947 million in 2011 to delays on the road, coming in at No. 27 nationwide.The Annual Urban Mobility Report also ranked Cincinnati No. 37 nationwide for extra time stuck in traffic, with the average Cincinnati commuter
spending an extra 37 hours on the road in 2011.
In comparison, the average
Columbus commuter spent 40 extra hours in traffic in 2011, and the typical Cleveland commuter spent 31 extra hours. For all three cities, estimates were unchanged from 2010.Traffic jams also have a major impact on climate change. According to the report, congestion caused cars to produce an extra
56 billion pounds of carbon dioxide nationwide, with Cincinnati commuters producing 421
million pounds.The report shows why it’s important for governments to
reduce traffic congestion with transit projects like the Cincinnati streetcar. In general, public transportation leads to
less congestion by taking cars off the road as people use buses, streetcars and trains instead. But some cities have taken it even further. By adopting exclusive lanes for buses and
streetcars, cities like San Francisco have made public transportation more attractive, which makes people more likely to forsake
their own cars in favor of public alternatives.
by German Lopez
Casino revenue estimates drop, Kasich's budget unveiled, fraternity's lawsuit dismissed
New casino revenue numbers are well below 2009 estimates. State officials
previously estimated Ohio’s casinos would bring in $1.9 billion a year
once they were built and functional, but the latest state budget
cuts that prediction by half. The new estimates are due to competition
with racinos and lower-than-expected performance at casinos that are
already up and running.
Gov. John Kasich announced his 2014-2015 budget,
unveiling a few pleasant and unpleasant surprises for progressives.
As part of the budget, Ohio is going ahead with expanding Medicaid to meet Obamacare’s
financial incentives, despite Kasich’s past criticism of the national
health care program. But the budget also directs higher revenues to
cutting taxes, instead of making up for past spending cuts enacted by
A Miami University fraternity’s $10 million lawsuit has been dismissed.
The lawsuit accused the university of “malice, hatred and ill will” for
the suspension of Phi Kappa Tau after it had a fireworks battle with
another fraternity. The battle led to police discovering marijuana
inside the fraternity.
Looks like Ohioans are returning to school. Some universities, including Miami, have seen a spike
in the number of applications recently, despite Ohio having fewer high
school graduates in the past few years. The spike is likely due to
City Council will vote tomorrow
on whether to provide tax breaks for neighborhood projects in Walnut
Hills and Linwood. The projects are focused on buildings that are
apparently uninhabitable, according to the developer.
PNC Bank is set to announce a “major gift”
to Smale Riverfront Park. The gift would continue a stream of private
contributions to the park. Last year, Procter & Gamble donated $1
million to fund the P&G Vibrant Playscape.
Cincinnati’s tree fee will not change this year. The tree fee is paid by homeowners so the city can take care of trees in public rights of way.
Cincinnati was awarded the Audrey Nelson Community Development
Achievement Award from the National Community Development Association
for contributing to the renovations of the Villages at Roll Hill.
An unhappy defendant punched his own lawyer in court.
The 3-D print revolution has taken an unexpected turn: Scientists can now print human embryonic cells. The researchers hope to use the cells as ink for printed organs and tissues.
by German Lopez
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
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
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 Hannah McCartney
Mallory announces construction to begin in April on track for 2015 completion
Another hurdle in the ongoing struggle to make the streetcar a reality was bypassed today, when Mayor Mark Mallory and City Manager Milton Dohoney, Jr. announced that after months entangled in a gridlock, Duke Energy and the city of Cincinnati have finally reached an agreement over who will pay for the relocation of utility lines. Somewhat of an agreement, anyway. Mallory said that the city and Duke will go before a judge in Common Pleas court, who will make the final decision as to who should pay for the utility relocation. According to the agreement, Duke Energy will begin moving its utilities in the next few weeks, and the court decision will determine cost responsibility later. The city and Duke are expected to file in Common Pleas court within the next few weeks, although the court decision could take years to finalize.The city broke ground on the streetcar nearly a year ago, but the skirmish between Duke and the city delayed further development — Duke refused to begin any kind of construction before financial responsibility was determined. The reconciliation contains two separate agreements, one of which outlines how Duke will safely operate its utilities once the streetcar is in place. The other demarcates how Duke and the city will resolve the issue of financial responsibility; they've both agreed to abide by the court ruling after any appeals are exhausted. "The utilities' agreements are in place, the cars are being ordered and
the construction bids are coming in," announced Dohoney. Roxanne Qualls, city council member and Democratic mayoral candidate, has long been a supporter of the streetcar project, which she values as an indispensable economic investment for the city of Cincinnati. Yesterday, Qualls announced her request for the city to ramp up the streetcar construction timeline in order to have the project completed in time for the All-Star Games, which will take place in Cincinnati July 2015. Her announcement came just weeks after the city revised its timetable to delay project completion until April 2016. In a letter from Qualls to Mallory and Dohoney, she explains: “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.” At the meeting, Mallory announced that the city would shoot for construction to be completed prior to the games, but there were no guarantees. The streetcar builder will ultimately set the timeline for the project, according to Jason Barron, Mallory's director of public affairs. CityBeat recently covered the streetcar project's delays and how the 2013 mayoral race could affect its progress here.