0 Comments · Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Republican-controlled Ohio Senate passed a budget that takes multiple measures against legal
abortions and makes sweeping changes to taxes and education.
by German Lopez
Plan also cuts taxes for businesses, restores some education funding
In a party line 23-10 vote today, the Republican-controlled Ohio Senate approved a $61 billion budget plan for fiscal years
2014 and 2015 that takes multiple measures against legal
abortions, aims to cut taxes for small businesses and partly restores education funding cut in the previous 2012-2013 budget.
The budget plan gives a large amount of attention to
social issues, particularly abortion. Most recently, the Ohio Senate added an amendment that could be used by the director of the Ohio Department of Health to close down abortion clinics.The amendment bans abortion clinics from establishing transfer agreements with public hospitals, forcing the clinics to make such agreements with private hospitals,
which are often religious and could refuse to deal with abortion clinics. Under the amendment, if the clinics can’t reach a transfer agreement, the state health director is given the power to shut them down.
Abortion rights groups claim the amendment will likely be used to shut down abortion clinics or force them to dissolve their abortion services.
The bill also makes changes to family services funding
that effectively defund Planned Parenthood, a family planning services
provider that is often criticized by conservatives for offering abortion
services, even though it does so exclusively through private donations.
The bill also redirects some federal Temporary
Assistance for Needy Families funds to crisis pregnancy centers, which
effectively act as the anti-abortion alternative to comprehensive family
planning service providers like Planned Parenthood.
The changes continue a conservative push on social issues that began in the Ohio House budget (“The Chastity Bunch,” issue of April 24).Supporters praise the bill for “protecting life” and promoting “chastity” and “abstinence,” but critics are pushing back.
“Today the Ohio Senate turned its back on the health care needs of Ohio’s women and paved the way for family planning centers and abortion clinics to be closed across the state. If Gov. (John) Kasich doesn’t remove these provisions from the budget, the unintended pregnancy rate will rise, cancer will go undetected and women who need abortion care will not have safe, legal facilities to turn to in some communities,” said
Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, in a
statement. “This budget will put the lives of thousands of Ohio women at risk if Gov. Kasich fails to line-item veto these dangerous measures.”The Ohio Senate plan also scraps Ohio House plans to
cut income taxes for all Ohioans by 7 percent and instead aims to cut
taxes for small businesses by 50 percent.
Republicans claim the tax cut will help small businesses,
which they call the state’s “job creators.” But conservative and liberal
groups have criticized the plan.
In an analysis, Policy Matters Ohio,
a left-leaning policy think tank, claimed the tax cut will
inadvertently benefit “affluent passive investors” and “partners in law
firms and other partnerships.”
Given that, Zach Schiller, research director at Policy Matters, says the plan will do little for Ohio’s economy.
“The fastest growing small businesses are not making money
because they’re investing heavily in their operations — in marketing,
research and sales,” Schiller says. “So if they’re making anything,
they’re investing it by and large in the business, so they’re not likely
to be able to benefit very much from this.”
He adds, “Meanwhile, you’re going to have passive
investors who have no role in adding employees and partners in law
firms, architecture firms, accounting firms and other kinds of
professional organizations who will personally benefit from this in a
way that I think is unlikely to generate more employment.”
Instead of focusing on tax cuts, Schiller argues the state
should be increasing direct investments, particularly in education
and human services.
The conservative Tax Foundation echoed some of Schiller’s criticisms in a blog post.
“This is bad policy, and many supporters are errantly
pushing it under the guise of putting more money in the hands of
‘job-creators.’ But this is based on a flawed understanding of what
creates jobs,” wrote Scott Drenkard of the Tax Foundation. “The
businesses that actually create jobs are not small businesses or big
businesses; they are businesses that are growing. And that type of
business is virtually impossible to target with a tax incentive.”
The budget plan restores about $717 million in
education funding, but that’s not enough to outweigh the $1.8 billion in education funding
that was cut in the 2012-2013 budget, which Kasich and the
Republican-controlled legislature approved in 2011.
The education funding increases will disproportionately favor the state’s property-wealthiest districts —
effectively giving the biggest funding increases to school districts
that can already afford to raise more money by leveraging high local
Stephen Dyer, an education policy fellow at the left-leaning Innovation Ohio, captured the disproportionate funding increases in chart form in a blog post:The chart shows only 15 percent of funding increases will go to the property-poorest one-third of school districts, while a vast majority of the increases will go to the property-wealthiest one-third.Health care advocates were also disappointed to see the
Ohio Senate pass on a federally funded Medicaid expansion, which would
allow anyone at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level —
$15,856 for a single-person household and $32,499 for a family of four — to enroll in the government-backed health care program.
Kasich proposed expanding Medicaid in his original budget plan (“Smoke and Mirrors,” issue of Feb. 20), but Ohio legislators are skeptical of the expansion’s consequences.
As part of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), the
Medicaid expansion would be fully financed by the federal government for
the first three years. After that, federal payments would be phased
down to capture 90 percent of the expansion, where federal funding would
Republican legislators, backed by Republican State
Treasurer Josh Mandel, are skeptical the federal government can afford
the expansion. There’s no historical precedent for the federal
government failing to meet its obligations to Medicaid, but
Republican legislators argue there’s also no historical precedent for
the federal government backing such large Medicaid expansions across the
A Health Policy Institute of Ohio study found the Medicaid expansion would save the state $1.8 billion and insure nearly half a million Ohioans over the next decade.The budget also fails to restore local government funding cuts that have been carried out during Kasich’s time in office. In comparison to fiscal years 2010 and 2011, local governments are receiving about 50 percent less aid from the state, leading to $22.2 million less funds for Cincinnati on an annual basis (“Enemy of the State,” issue of March 20).When asked to explain the various cuts to education and local government funding in the 2012-2013 budget, Kasich spokesperson Rob Nichols told CityBeat in September 2012, “The reality is we walked into an $8 billion budget deficit. … We had to fix that.”The Ohio legislature and Kasich must agree on a budget plan in time for a June 30 deadline.
by German Lopez
Another anti-abortion amendment, Kasich prevents JobsOhio audit, streetcar funds remain
Got questions for CityBeat about, well, anything? Submit them here, and we’ll try to get back to you in our first Answers Issue.Also, take our texting while driving survey here.The Ohio Senate proposed a budget amendment
yesterday that would ban abortion providers from transferring
patients to public hospitals. The rule continues a series of
conservative pushes on social issues in the ongoing budget process that began in the Ohio House. The
Ohio House budget bill effectively defunded Planned Parenthood and funded anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers, while the Ohio Senate accepted those measures and added another rule that potentially allows the health director to shut down abortion clinics.
Republican Gov. John Kasich signed a bill
that will prevent a full public audit of JobsOhio, the private
nonprofit entity established by Kasich and Republican legislators to
replace the Ohio Department of Development. The bill defines liquor
profits, which were public funds before JobsOhio, and private funds in a
way that bars the state auditor from looking into any funding sources
that aren’t owed to the state. Last week, Democratic gubernatorial
candidate Ed FitzGerald called on Kasich to veto the bill,
claiming, “The people’s money is the people’s business, and this bill,
which slams shut the door on accountability, is simply unacceptable.”
The Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI) says the $4 million going to the streetcar is a done deal.
Republican county commissioners Chris Monzel and Greg Hartmann tried to
get OKI to pull the funds, but there now seems to be a general
consensus that the money is contractually tied to the Southwest Ohio
Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) and, therefore, the streetcar
project. City Council is likely to consider a plan to plug the streetcar project’s budget gap later this month.
Libertarian mayoral candidate Jim Berns is handing out marijuana plants
at a campaign event today, even though the event may run foul of state
law. Democratic candidates John Cranley and Roxanne Qualls are generally
considered the top contenders in this year’s mayoral race, but Berns
has differentiated himself by putting marijuana legalization in his
platform. While drug prohibition policies are generally dictated at
state and federal levels, cities can decriminalize or legalize certain
drugs and force police departments to give prohibition enforcement lower priority.
Ohio State University President Gordon Gee is retiring July 1
following controversial remarks about “those damn Catholics,” the
University of Notre Dame and others. Gee, a Mormon, says he has regrets,
but the gaffes didn’t compel him to retire. In a statement, OSU
credited Gee with helping the school build an academic profile of a
“highly selective, top-tier public research institution.”
Local officials cut the ribbon yesterday for the Roebling Bridge, the latest piece of infrastructure to debut at The Banks.
Fort Hamilton Hospital has a new president.
Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bank has loaned more than any other big bank in the country, according to a new study.
How do mosquitoes survive storms? Popular Science has the answer.
Researchers unveiled a drone that can be controlled by thoughts. Next stop: the Iron Man suit.
0 Comments · Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Ohio Senate Republicans unveiled a budget
plan on May 28 that would keep social issues at the forefront and
refocus tax reforms on small businesses instead of all Ohioans.
by German Lopez
Bill would cut taxes for small businesses, not other Ohioans
Ohio Senate Republicans unveiled a budget plan yesterday that would keep social issues at the forefront and refocus tax reforms on small businesses instead of all Ohioans.The budget plan would potentially allow Ohio's health director to shut down abortion clinics, effectively defund Planned Parenthood, fund anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers and forgo the Medicaid expansion. The plan would also cut income taxes by 50 percent for businesses owners while undoing a 7-percent across-the-board income tax cut for all Ohioans.Republicans say the tax cuts will spur the state's economy, but Democrats were quick to argue the tax cuts will exclude a majority of Ohioans, particularly low- and middle-income earners.The small business tax cut was originally proposed by Gov. John Kasich alongside a 20-percent across-the-board tax cut for all Ohioans, but the Ohio House undid both suggestions in its own budget plan in favor of a 7-percent across-the-board income tax cut.Meanwhile, the conservative push on social issues echoes priorities established in the Ohio House budget bill, which was passed on April 18 ("The Chastity Bunch," issue of April 24). But the Ohio Senate plan comes with a new addition: It would give the director of the Ohio
Department of Health the power to close ambulatory surgical centers
without cause, which could be "a thinly veiled tool to close abortion clinics
and effectively outlaw abortion across the state," according to NARAL
The other Ohio Senate measures are drawn from the Ohio House budget bill, including a rework of family services funding that prioritizes other programs over Planned Parenthood, leading to less funds for the controversial women's health program.The change has been trumpeted by Republicans who claim it will allow more programs to get funding. But the cuts have been criticized by Planned Parenthood advocates, who say other programs already compete for family planning services funding; those programs are just dismissed as inferior under the current competitive distribution process.The Ohio Senate budget plan would also shift a separate set of funds to crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), which essentially act as the anti-abortion alternative to family planning institutions like Planned Parenthood.Supporters of CPCs, including Denise Leipold of Right to Life of Northeast Ohio, praise them for promoting "chastity" and "abstinence."But CPCs have been criticized by pro-choice groups for misleading women about false links between abortion, breast cancer, mental health problems and infertility. An "undercover investigation" from NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio found 47 percent of CPCs gave misleading information about abortions and mental health problems and 48 percent gave false information about abortions, breast cancer and infertility.NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio criticized the measures in a statement.
"Just when you thought the budget couldn’t get any worse
for Ohio women, it does," said Kellie Copeland, executive director of
NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, in a statement. "This budget attacks every choice a woman can
make about her reproductive health. If she wants to avoid an unplanned
pregnancy, her family planning provider may be defunded. If she gets
pregnant when she is unable to become a parent, the abortion clinic in
her community may be shuttered. If she chooses to become a parent and
needs assistance to provide for her child, funding may no longer be
available. Gov. Kasich can stop these attacks on women’s health
care. We need him to pledge to line-item veto these dangerous measures
when they reach his desk."
Just like the Ohio House budget plan, the Ohio Senate's plan also forgoes the Medicaid expansion. Kasich and Ohio Democrats have supported the expansion, but the Republican majority in the legislature has so far stood in opposition.The expansion would use mostly federal funds from the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") to increase the eligibility cut-off for Medicaid to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. The first three years would be completely paid by the federal government. Afterward, federal funding would be phased down to 90 percent over the next decade, where it would remain.A study from the Health Policy Institute of Ohio found the expansion would insure nearly half a million Ohioans and save the state money in the next decade.Despite staunch opposition in budget talks, Republicans have introduced a standalone bill that would expand and reform Medicaid, which Republicans say will let them take a more "holistic" approach to the health care program.The Ohio Senate budget plan also pulled out controversial language that would have forced public universities and colleges to decide between $370 million in higher out-of-state tuition rates and providing out-of-state students with documents required for voting in Ohio.If the budget plan is approved by the Ohio Senate, it will head to the Ohio House and Kasich for final approval.Update (1:51 p.m.): This story was updated with comments from NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio.
by German Lopez
Boston violence continues, parking referendum moves forward, House budget bill passes
Boston and surrounding communities went through another night of terror and chaos
last night, with the two Boston Marathon bombing suspects allegedly rampaging
through the city just hours after their photos were released to the
public by authorities. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the suspects, died
after apparently suffering multiple wounds from a police shootout and
what’s now believed to have been an explosion, but his brother, Dzhokhar
Tsarnaev, 19, remains at large while a massive manhunt is underway.
Authorities are telling people in Boston and the surrounding area to
stay indoors as the manhunt continues.
Opponents of the city’s plan to lease its parking assets to the Port Authority gathered enough petitions
to put the issue on the ballot this November. The news comes as a huge
blow to local officials who supported the plan to help balance the
budget for the next two years and fund development projects around the city. Mayor Mark Mallory and City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. previously warned that without the parking plan the city will have to lay off cops and firefighters.
Before approving the budget bill in a 61-35 vote, the Ohio House voted to remove an amendment from the bill that would have banned comprehensive sex education in a 76-19 vote
yesterday, which CityBeat covered in further detail here. Still, the budget bill contains language that would defund Planned Parenthood
and redirect other funding to abstinence-only, anti-abortion crisis
pregnancy centers. The budget bill was also amended to ask for a
Medicaid waiver that give Ohio more time to mull over a Medicaid expansion and could lead to a revamp of the state-backed health care program. The budget bill must now be approved by the Ohio Senate and Gov. John Kasich.
Ohio’s unemployment rate was 7.1 percent in March,
unchanged from February’s revised rate and a small drop from 7.4
percent in March 2012. The number of people unemployed rose by 1,000,
while the amount of people employed dropped by 20,400. March was also a
weak month for the U.S. jobs report, so Ohio’s numbers may be following a
nationwide slowdown. Jobs in manufacturing, mining and logging,
financial activities and trade, transportation and utilities increased,
while other areas dropped by varying degrees.
Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls and Mayor Mark Mallory still support the streetcar project, touting its economic benefits to the city. Still, Qualls told CityBeat Wednesday that she wants to have a “very robust public conversation” about the project with the public and city officials to see how it can move forward.
On the two-year anniversary of his death, the lawsuit for David “Bones” Hebert has been expanded
to include the city of Cincinnati and three Cincinnati
Police officers. Since he was killed by
police in 2011, Bones has built a following that wants to bring what
they perceive as justice to his death.
A state representative announced he will run against
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman in 2016 because of Portman’s vote against a
federal gun control bill. State Rep. Bob Hagan wrote on Facebook,
”Senator Portman shows his lack of courage and testicular fortitude. The
NRA Owns him. I am declaring my candidacy for US Senate to run against
him in the next election. I will be his hair shirt for the next three
years.” A poll from The New York Times and CBS found about 92 percent of Americans support universal background checks, the major policy proposal in the gun control bill.
A new app allows Icelanders to make sure their hookups don’t qualify as accidental incest.
0 Comments · Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Ohio CEOs are making more than 160 times more than the
average Ohioan, according to a new report from the AFL-CIO. In 2012, the
average CEO salary was about $6.2 million; the rest of us teeter around
$39,000. CINCINNATI -1
0 Comments · Wednesday, April 17, 2013
The Ohio House Finance Committee on April 16 approved a
budget bill that would ban comprehensive sex education, defund Planned
Parenthood and fund crisis pregnancy centers that pro-choice groups call
by German Lopez
Republicans amend bill to prevent discussion, distribution of contraceptives in schools
With Republican support and Democratic opposition, the
Ohio House Finance Committee approved a budget bill today that would ban
comprehensive sex education, defund Planned Parenthood and fund crisis
pregnancy centers that pro-choice groups call “anti-choice.”
Citing the possibility of “gateway sexual activity,” the
bill would make it so teachers can be fined up to $5,000 if they
explain the use of condoms and other forms of birth control to high school
students. It would also prohibit individuals and groups from
distributing birth control on school grounds.
The bill pushes abstinence-only education to curtail any promotion, implicit or
explicit, of gateway sexual activity. To define such activity, the bill
cites Ohio’s criminal code definition for “sexual contact,” which is defined as “any
touching of an erogenous zone of another, including without limitation
the thigh, genitals, buttock, pubic region, or, if the person is a
female, a breast.”
The bill would also redirect federal funding to defund Planned Parenthood and shift funds to crisis pregnancy centers, which CityBeat covered in further detail here.
“Today the Ohio House Finance Committee voted to send our
state back to the 1950s,” said Kellie Copeland, executive director of
NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, in a statement. “The Ohio House is doing
everything they can to restrict access to reproductive health care and
medically accurate information that help Ohioans live healthy lives.
(Gov. John) Kasich can stop these dangerous attacks on women’s health
care. We need him to speak out against these budget provisions and to
line-item veto these dangerous measures when they reach his desk.”
Researchers have found abstinence-only programs to be generally ineffective. A 2007 study
published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found abstinence-only
programs have no impact on rates for teenage pregnancy or vaginal
intercourse, while comprehensive programs that include birth control
education reduce rates.
A 2011 study
from researchers at the University of Georgia that looked at data from
48 states concurred abstinence-only programs do not reduce the rate of
teenage pregnancy. The study indicated states with the lowest teenage
pregnancy rates tend to have the most comprehensive sex and HIV
When looking at three ways to prevent unintended pregnancies for a 2012 study,
the Brookings Center on Children and Families found the most
cost-effective policy was to increase funding for family planning
services through the Medicaid program. In other words, if governments increased spending on birth control programs, they would
eventually save money.
Still, a 2010 study
from a University of Pennsylvania researcher found abstinence-only
education programs may delay sexual activity. The study, which tracked
black middle school students over two years, found students in an
abstinence-only program had lower rates of sexual activity than students
in the comprehensive program.At hearings on April 12, anti-abortion groups praised abstinence-only education for promoting chastity.
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 09:04 AM | Permalink
Tax Day today, city layoffs underway, Ohio Republicans to defund Planned Parenthood
Today is Tax Day, which means income tax returns have to
be filed by midnight. If you’re in a rush, there are a variety of online
tax filing services out there, particularly for state and federal
taxes. Cincinnati’s e-filing service can be found here.
Cincinnati is outlining the time frame
for police, firefighter and other layoffs that the city says it must
undertake to balance the budget. The layoffs are currently set for June
9, with layoff letters going out by then. The city administration says the
layoffs are necessary because the city’s plan to lease its parking
assets has been held up in court and a referendum effort, eliminating
the use of parking funds to help balance the budget in time for fiscal
year 2014. Opponents say there are alternatives, but Mayor Mark Mallory
and the city’s budget gurus recently criticized the suggestions as misleading and unworkable.
Ohio House Republicans are once again attempting to defund
Planned Parenthood in their latest budget plan, but this time they are
also throwing in support for crisis pregnancy centers, which tout
abstinence-only education, in a separate part of their budget proposal.
The moves have sparked criticism from pro-choice groups around the state
that say Republicans are trying to push their morality on women, while
anti-abortion groups have praised the budget for enforcing family values
and what they claim are more women’s health options.
The Medicaid expansion is uniting Gov. John Kasich, Ohio Democrats, mental health advocates and other health experts
against the Ohio House Republicans’ budget proposal, which rejects the
expansion. Supporters of the expansion point to studies that say the
expansion will save the state money, insure nearly half a million
Ohioans and help the state’s neediest, but Ohio Republicans say they’re
concerned the federal funding backing the expansion will dry up at some
point, even though there’s no historical precedent of the federal
government failing to meet its Medicaid commitments.
State officials are moving to reform
Ohio’s foster care system after several deaths were linked to poor
oversight and regulations. The Foster Care Advisory Group sent out its
suggestions last week, which include removing some rules to
“normalize” foster children’s childhoods and eliminating county-by-county
Internet sweepstakes cafes have been closed in California and Florida — a move state officials are looking to replicate in Ohio.
Ohio gas prices are low this week.
A new state license plate design is now available.
A new strand of the bird flu is here, and it’s already killed 11 people in China.
Scientists have reconstructed the ancestor that came between the human and chimp.