by German Lopez
Democrats endorse candidates, parking petitions scrutinized, Senate to rework state budget
The Democratic Party’s nominating committee announced who it’s supporting
for City Council Friday: Greg Landsman, who heads the Strive
Partnership and worked for former Gov. Ted Strickland; Shawn Butler,
Mayor Mark Mallory’s director of community affairs; Michelle Dillingham,
a community activist; and the six incumbents, which include Laure
Quinlivan, Chris Seelbach, Yvette Simpson, P.G. Sittenfeld, Pam Thomas
and Wendell Young. The nominations still have to be approved by the
Cincinnati Democratic Committee.
Petitioners against the city’s parking plan are supposed to get their final tally on referendum today, but a new video shows at least some of the petitions may have been signed without a legitimate witness, which are needed to validate a signature.
The Hamilton County Board of Elections announced Thursday that
petitioners had met the necessary threshold of 8,522 signatures, but the
video casts doubts on whether those signatures were legitimately
gathered. The city wants to lease its parking assets to help balance the
deficit for the next two years and fund development programs around the
city (“Parking Stimulus,”
issue of Feb. 27), but opponents worry higher parking rates and
extended hours will harm the local economy. Here is the embedded video:
The Ohio Senate could restore
Gov. John Kasich’s tax, school funding and Medicaid plans when it votes
on the biennium budget for 2014 and 2015. Kasich’s tax and education
funding plans were criticized by Democrats and progressive groups for
favoring the wealthy, but the Medicaid expansion, which the Health Policy Institute of Ohio
says would expand Medicaid coverage to 456,000 low-income Ohioans and
save the state money, was mostly opposed by state Republicans. CityBeat covered Kasich’s budget in further detail here.
New polling from Quinnipiac University found a plurality of Ohio voters now support same-sex marriage rights — granting promising prospects to Freedom Ohio’s ballot initiative to legalize same-sex marriage in the state this year.
An audit on JobsOhio could take months,
according to State Auditor Dave Yost’s office. Gov. John Kasich was
initially resistant to a full audit, but Yost eventually won out,
getting full access to JobsOhio’s financial records. JobsOhio is a
privatized development agency that is meant to eventually replace the
Ohio Department of Development.
In response to not getting a Democratic endorsement for his City Council campaign, Mike Moroski, who was fired from his job at Purcell Marian High School for supporting gay marriage, launched the Human Party.
Cincinnati received an “F”
for business friendliness in the 2013 Thumbtack.com U.S. Small
Business Friendliness Survey from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
Embattled attorney Stan Chesley will no longer practice law in Ohio.
Chesley, who has been criticized for alleged misconduct, was recently
disbarred in Kentucky. He recently resigned from the University of
Cincinnati Board of Trustees after being asked to in a letter from
fellow board members.
Ohio gas prices are shooting back up.
PopSci has an infographic showing sharks should be much more scared of humans than humans should be afraid of sharks.
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.
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 12:35 PM | Permalink
Policy Matters Ohio releases county-by-county map detailing tax credit
As part of an effort supporting a state earned income tax credit (EITC), Policy Matters Ohio unveiled an interactive map today that shows the potential benefits to taxpayers in different counties.For Hamilton County, about 19 percent of tax-filing households would qualify for the program. A 10-percent EITC would return about $15.6 million to households in Hamilton County, or about $225 on average for each qualifying filer. A 20-percent EITC would return about $31.2 million to Hamilton County, with each qualifying filer getting about $451 on average.EITC is a tax credit that goes to working families, typically favoring low- and middle-income earners with children. It is already used by the federal government and several states to progressively reward employment.CityBeat previously covered Policy Matter's efforts and how EITC could replace Gov. John Kasich's tax proposals, which would expand the sales tax and cut income taxes by 20 percent across the board, here.Since then, Ohio House Republicans have rejected most of Kasich's tax proposals, instead downsizing the plan to a 7-percent across-the-board tax cut with no sales tax expansion.Here is the interactive map, courtesy of Policy Matters:Learn About Tableau
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 09:22 AM | Permalink
Sheriff wants more staff, businesses get tax credits, Ohio Senate to look at gambling bill
Even as it faces budget cuts, the Hamilton County Sheriff’s office says it wants more staff
to keep up with higher jail populations — especially in light of a new
measure that will keep more people detained until they appear in court.
The measure is in response to some people never showing up to court
after being released from jail. Staff are crediting the feasibility of the measure to Hamilton
County Sheriff Jim Neil encouraging them to think “outside the box.”
Still, Hamilton County Board of Commissioners President Chris Monzel
says the cost of the program might require Neil to think “inside the
The Ohio Tax Credit Authority is giving tax breaks
to 13 businesses around the state in hopes of creating 1,417 jobs and
spurring $83 million in investment. Seven of the projects are in the
Hamilton, Butler and Clinton counties, with one in Cincinnati.
The Ohio House easily passed a bill that would effectively shut down Internet sweepstakes cafes, but the Ohio Senate is including the measure in a more comprehensive gambling bill.
Senate President Keith Faber says there are a lot of issues related to
gambling in Ohio, and the cafes are just one part of the problem.
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman is one of many being targeted
by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s pro-gun control ad campaign. Bloomberg is a
leader in supporting more restrictive gun measures, and he’s planning
on airing the ads in 13 states during the ongoing congressional spring
break to push for stricter background checks and other new rules.
Ohio failed to show improvement
in the latest infrastructure report card from the American Society of
Civil Engineers (ASCE). In both 2009 and 2013, Ohio got a C- for its
infrastructure, which translates to 2,462 structurally deficient bridges
and puts about 42 percent of roadways as “poor” or “mediocre” quality.
But the report might not be as bad as it sounds. The Washington Post’s Brad Plumer argues that the ASCE is notoriously too harsh.
A study from NerdWallet found Cincinnati is the No. 1 city in the nation for consumer banking.
Duke Energy rolled out a new logo yesterday.
A former Miami University student is facing charges for allegedly changing his grades.
More options aren’t always a good thing, according to some science. A new study found more choices can lead to bad, risky decisions.
Officials from around Ohio want their local government funding back from Gov. John Kasich
0 Comments · Wednesday, March 20, 2013
With the support of Democratic officials
from around the state, Cincinnati Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld is
launching a website called ProtectMyOhio.com to organize efforts to restore local government funding cut during Republican Gov. John Kasich’s time in office.
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 10:20 AM | Permalink
Tax credits could be progressive alternative to governor's tax plan
Policy Matters Ohio is now pushing an earned income tax
credit (EITC) that would benefit the state’s poor and middle class,
including more than 822,000 working families. The plan could be a progressive replacement for Republican Gov. John Kasich’s proposed tax
plan, which some reports claim disproportionately benefits the wealthy.
The EITC is a tax credit targeted at working people who
have low to moderate income, particularly those with children. It is
currently used by the federal government, 24 states and Washington, D.C.
The report from Policy Matters,
a left-leaning policy research group, found a 10-percent EITC would
cost about $184 million per year, producing an estimated $224 million in
economic benefits, and a 20-percent EITC would cost about $367 million
per year, producing an estimated $446 million in economic benefits.
If state legislators set aside Gov. John Kasich’s tax
proposals, the state would be left with about $280.4 million in general
revenue available for fiscal year 2014 and about $690.2 million available in
fiscal year 2015, according to an analysis of Kasich’s budget bluebook.
That would be more than enough money in fiscal year 2014 to pay for a
10-percent EITC, and even a 20-percent EITC would only eat up about half
of available funds in fiscal year 2015.
Using a model from the nonpartisan Institute for Tax and
Economic Policy, the Policy Matters report found a state EITC would
benefit Ohioans making less than $51,000 per year. Under a 10-percent credit, qualifying families making less
than $18,000 would get $190 on average, qualifying families making
between $18,000 and $33,000 would get $323 on average and qualifying
families making between $33,000 and $51,000 would get $149 on average,
according to the report.
Under a 20-percent credit, benefits would be bumped up to
$381 on average for qualifying families making less than $18,000 per
year, $646 on average for qualifying families making between $18,000 and
$33,000 and $298 for qualifying families making between $33,000 and
$51,000, according to the report.
These benefits would then be spent in a way that helps
families, local communities and small businesses, according to the
Policy Matters report: “Families that claim the EITC use the refunds to pay for basic
needs like housing, food, transportation and child care. These purchases
stimulate local economies. A number of studies focusing on the economic
impacts of the EITC find that small businesses and other taxes benefit
from a cash infusion into the local economy.”
The report claims a state
EITC would also result in a fairer tax system that better helps the state’s low-
and middle-income earners, stronger incentives to work and better social and economic results
for EITC recipients.
The Policy Matters report touts the federal EITC, which
was created by former President Gerald Ford in 1975 and has been
expanded by every presidential administration since, to support adopting
a similar policy in the state: “The federal Earned Income Tax Credit
does more than any other program to keep working families out of
poverty. … (It) is lauded for its direct impact in keeping families with
children above the poverty line, making work pay, and sending federal
dollars to local communities.”
Anyone making $50,270 a year or less qualifies for the
federal EITC. The tax credit is built so it particularly benefits
families with children, and it “encourages families making at or near
minimum wage to work more hours since the credit has a longer, more
gradual phase-out range compared to other programs,” according to the
Policy Matters report.
The report says the federal EITC has already benefited more than
950,000 Ohio families with an average refund of $2,238.
In previous analyses, Policy Matters found Kasich’s tax
proposals disproportionately benefit the wealthy and actually raise
taxes on the state’s poor and middle class (“Smoke and Mirrors,” issue of Feb. 20). But Kasich says his tax plan will cut taxes for “job creators,” particularly the state’s small businesses.
The governor’s tax proposals are facing bipartisan
resistance, and the Republican-controlled Ohio House is currently
considering setting the proposals aside while the rest of the budget is
worked out, according to Gongwer.
In a press conference on March 14, local officials around
the state, including Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld, suggested dropping
income tax cuts and instead using the revenue to restore local
government funding cuts, which have totaled $1.4 billion since Kasich
by German Lopez
Kasich tax plan criticized, JobsOhio records due today, workers demand prevailing wage
The Ohio House is looking to rewrite
parts of Gov. John Kasich’s budget proposal after dissent has focused
on the governor’s tax plan. The chamber’s leaders are looking to set
aside the tax plan from the bill so they can better focus on other
complicated parts of the budget, including the Medicaid expansion and
school funding. Even without the governor’s controversial sales tax
expansion plan, Kasich’s budget proposal contains enough leftover money
to pass some income tax cuts, with about $280.4 million in general
revenue available for fiscal year 2014 and $690.2 million available in
fiscal year 2015, according to an analysis in the Bluebook. CityBeat covered Kasich’s budget proposal in further detail here.
State Auditor Dave Yost says he expects to get the subpoenaed financial records from JobsOhio
today by the noon deadline, even though the audit has come under
criticism from Gov. Kasich and other state officials. Yost says he
should be allowed to look into JobsOhio’s full financial records, which
include private funds, but Kasich and other Republicans argue only
public funds are open to audit. JobsOhio is a publicly funded nonprofit,
privatized development agency that was set up by Kasich and Republican legislators to eventually replace the Ohio Department of Development,
which is susceptible to a full audit.
Workers for the $78 million U Square project near the University of Cincinnati allege they are being underpaid.
In a lawsuit, union workers are claiming they should be paid prevailing
wage established in state law because the project is using public funds
and 50 percent owned by a public authority.
With the support of City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr., Cincinnati is now looking to cash into its innovative water technology
with the formation of the Global Water Technology Hub, which will use
expert advice to identify market needs and sell the technology. The city
promises the hub will also help keep water rates low for users and find
new revenue sources.
Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld will hold a press conference
today to introduce his Restoring Our Communities Initiative, which will
seek to fight blight and improve child safety in Cincinnati. The
initiative will include a push for the passage of Ohio Senate Bill 16, which
would make it so individuals are not liable for trespassing convictions
if the person is remediating blight on abandoned personal property. In a
statement, Sittenfeld explained the purpose of the initiative: “Blight
is a complicated issue that impacts many aspects of life, and I think
this plan helps attack the problem from several angles.”
Cincinnati Council’s Budget and Finance Committee unanimously approved $10,000
for the Westwood Square project, which will involve a larger facility
for the Madcap Theater, green space and changes to the neighborhood’s
entryways to better encourage community pride and economic development.
A new $20 million, seven-story apartment tower with 110 high-end apartments is being planned for Downtown, above the Seventh and Broadway Garage.
Two weeks in, Horseshoe Casino’s executive says the casino is doing well and turnout has been good.
A report found auto insurance rates in Ohio are “a bargain,” with the state having the fourth lowest costs among other states and Washington, D.C.
A machine keeps human livers alive outside a body for 24 hours, which could double the amount of livers available for transplant and save thousands of lives.
by German Lopez
Report found state has cut local government funding by nearly 50 percent since 2010
With the support of local officials from around the state, Cincinnati Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld is launching a website called ProtectMyOhio.com to organize efforts to restore local government funding cut during Gov. John Kasich’s time in office.
Speaking during a phone conference today, Sittenfeld, Dayton
Commissioner and mayoral candidate Nan Whaley, Columbus Councilman Zach
Klein and Toledo Councilman and mayoral candidate Joe McNamara described
how state funding cuts have forced cities and counties to cut services.
“What we’re really trying to do today is speak up and
sound the alarm about the governor’s ongoing raid on the Local
Government Fund,” Sittenfeld said. “Over the last four years, the
governor has taken away $3 billion in local government funding. This
year alone, municipalities across Ohio are going to receive nearly $1
billion less than they previously would have.”
He added, “This is the exact same money that cities,
villages and townships used to keep cops in the street, staff our fire
departments, fix the potholes and some of the other basic services that
citizens rightly expect and the local governments are the ones
responsible for delivering.”
In the past, the Kasich administration has argued the cuts
were necessary. When previously asked about cuts to education and other
state funding, Rob Nichols, Kasich’s spokesperson, told CityBeat, “The reality is we walked into an $8 billion budget deficit. … We had to fix that.”
But the 2014-2015 budget is not under the fiscal pressures Kasich experienced when he took office, and the governor is pursuing $1.4 billion in tax cuts over the next three years,
which he argues will help spur small businesses around the
state. During the phone conference, local officials said the revenue going to tax cuts
would be better used to return funds to local governments.
Sittenfeld says the cuts have left Cincinnati with $12
million less per year. “That is the difference between us having our
first police recruit class in nearly six years versus not having it,” he
said. “It’s the difference between enduring dangerous fire engine
brownouts versus not having to do so.”
Klein, who represented Columbus in the call,
said the cuts have amounted to nearly $30 million for his city, which he
said is enough money to help renovate nearly all the city’s recreation
centers, parks and pools.
“No one is spared,” Klein said. “Everyone is getting cut
across the state, and every neighborhood — no matter if you’re in a
small village or in a large city like Columbus, Cleveland, Toledo or
Dayton — (is) at some level feeling the effects of the cuts, whether
it’s actual cuts in services or what could be investments in
Klein said the cuts, which have been carried out by a
Republican governor and Republican-controlled legislature, contradict
values espoused by national Republicans. At the federal level,
Republicans typically argue that states should be given more say in
running programs like Medicaid, but Ohio Republicans don’t seem to share
an interest in passing money down to more local governments, according
Some state officials have previously argued that it’s not
the state’s responsibility to take care of local governments, but
Sittenfeld says it’s unfair to not give money back to the cities:
“Cincinnati is a major economic engine for the entire state. We’re
sending a lot of money to Columbus, so I think it’s fair to say we would
like some of that money back. John Kasich doesn’t have to fill the
potholes, and John Kasich doesn’t have to put a cop on the street.”
Whaley, who represented Dayton in the call, said, “There’s
a county perspective on this as well. The counties would certainly say
that the unfunded mandates that the state legislature brings down daily
are covered by those local government funds. While (state officials)
keep on making rules for the counties to administer services and make
those efforts, it’s pretty disingenuous to say that (county officials)
don’t get a share of the income.”
A Policy Matters Ohio report found the state has cut $1.4 billion from local government funding
— nearly half of total funding — during Kasich’s time as governor. The report pinned much of that drop on the estate tax,
which was phased out at the beginning of 2013 and would have provided
$625.3 million to local governments in the 2014-2015 budget. The estate tax was
repealed in 2011 by the Republican-controlled Ohio legislature and
Cincinnati had structural deficit problems before Kasich
took office, but local officials argue the state’s cut have made matters
worse. When presenting his 2013 budget proposal, City Manager Milton
Dohoney Jr. said the state funding reductions cost Cincinnati $22.2
million in revenues for the year.
Kasich’s office did not return CityBeat’s phone calls for this story.
Kasich’s latest budget proposal has also been criticized by Republicans and Democrats
for tax cuts and education funding plans that benefit the wealthy and
expanding Medicaid (“Smoke and Mirrors,” issue of Feb. 20).
by German Lopez
Parking plan on hold, mall renovations to go ahead, Kasich's sales tax plan under fire
Cincinnati’s plan to lease parking assets to the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority remains on hold
as a lawsuit arguing the law should be subject to referendum works
through the Hamilton County Common Pleas Court. The legal dispute is
focused on City Council’s use of the emergency clause, which eliminates a
30-day waiting period on implementing laws and takes away the
possibility of a referendum. Emergency clauses are routinely deployed in
City Council, but opponents of the parking plan say that doesn’t make
Whether the parking deal does go through or not, the Tower Place Mall renovations will be carried out. The city originally included the renovations as part of the plan, but Meg Olberding, city spokesperson, told The Cincinnati Enquirer
that the city is planning on selling the the property to a subsidiary
of JDL Warm Construction for an undisclosed sum, and the company will
then pay an estimated $5 million for the redevelopment.
Gov. John Kasich’s plan to expand the sales tax to fund tax cuts is being heavily criticized by some members of the business community, but Rep.
Ron Amstutz, chairman of the Ohio House Finance & Appropriations
Committee, says he is looking into ways to save the proposal. Kasich’s plan would expand the
application of the sales tax to include more services, including cable
TV and admission to sport events, but it would lower the sales tax rate
from 5.5 percent to 5 percent and carry out 20-percent across-the-board
income tax cuts. CityBeat wrote about Kasich’s budget proposal in further detail here.
As part of Kasich’s education plans, the state’s school voucher program is expanding
to help students meet a Third Grade Reading Guarantee, which requires third-graders pass a test in reading proficiency before they
can move onto fourth grade. Supporters argue the voucher program provides more choice
and control for parents, but opponents say the state should not be
paying for private educations. A previous Policy Matters Ohio report
found expanded school choice through more vouchers can have negative effects on education, including worse results for students and teachers.
State Auditor Dave Yost is pushing for a full audit of
JobsOhio, the publicly funded private, nonprofit agency, but Republican
state legislators are joining Kasich
in opposition. The opposing Republicans say the state auditor can track
any public funds used for JobsOhio, but they say the agency is allowed to
keep its private funds under wraps. Kasich says he plans to replace the
Ohio Department of Development, which can be fully audited by the state auditor at any time,
The Ohio Department of Education apparently knew or should have known of ongoing data scrubbing in schools as early as 2008, according to The Toledo Blade. Emails acquired by The Blade
show officials analyzed and discussed data reports that year after
media reports detailed how urban districts excluded thousands of test
scores on state report cards.
Supporters of the Anna Louise Inn gathered Friday
in celebration of International Women’s Day and to stand against
Western & Southern’s repeated efforts to run the Inn out of the
The U.S. Census Bureau says Cincinnati commutes are much shorter than the national average,
with only 2.9 percent of Cincinnatians spending more than 60 minutes
one-way during their commute, as compared to the 8.1 percent national
The Cincinnati Enquirer unveiled its new tabloid format today. Ben Kaufman says it looks nice and arrived on time.
The Killers are coming to the Horseshoe Casino.
A new study says results from fMRI scans are unintentionally distorted and inaccurate — to the point that some studies on the human brain that use fMRI results may be seriously questionable.
2 Comments · Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Washington, D.C., is once again on the
verge of another manufactured crisis. On March 1, the sequester, a
series of mandated spending cuts, is set to kick in, threatening the
country with another round of austerity measures that will cut jobs and
bring down an already-fragile economy.