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.
Gov. John Kasich says his new budget offers a fairer tax system and more money for schools, but it’s really just more of the same
0 Comments · Wednesday, February 20, 2013
In the big public push for his 2014-2015
budget proposal, Republican Gov. John Kasich has often sounded
progressive. But deeper analyses of Kasich’s budget found that the
governor was likely off with some of his claims.
by German Lopez
PUCO appointment criticized, poll supports school funding, superintendent investigation
Gov. John Kasich appointed a former Republican to a Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) seat that must go to a Democrat or Independent, according to The Plain Dealer.
M. Beth Trombold will finish her term as the assistant director in
Kasich’s Ohio Development Services Agency in April, when she will then
take up the PUCO position. The appointment immediately drew criticism
from some Democrats. State Rep. Mike Foley of Cleveland called the
appointment “another example of Kasich cronyism running rampant.”
A poll from Innovation Ohio, a left-leaning policy research group, found Kasich’s budget proposals aren’t popular with most Ohioans.
The poll found 62 percent of Ohioans prefer prioritizing school funding
over reducing the state income tax, while only 32 percent prefer tax
reduction. When asked what Ohio lawmakers should prioritize in the
coming months, 56 percent said job creation, 38 percent said school
funding, 24 percent said keeping local property taxes low and 18 percent
said cutting the state income tax.
A school superintendent from Warren County may face prosecution for misusing public resources after he wrote a letter to parents urging them to campaign against Kasich, reports Dayton Daily News.
Franklin City Schools Superintendent Arnol Elam was apparently angry with
Kasich’s new school funding formula, which did not increase funding for
poor school districts like Franklin Cities, but did give increases to
Springboro, Mason and Kings — the three wealthiest districts in Warren
County. County Prosecutor David Fornshell said he will be investigating
Elam for engaging in political activity with public resources.Kasich will give his State of the State Tuesday. The speech is expected to focus on the governor’s budget and tax reform plans.
As part of an agreement with the city, Duke Energy is suing over the streetcar project, according to WLWT. The lawsuit is meant to settle who has to pay for moving utility lines to accommodate for the streetcar. CityBeat covered the agreement between the city and Duke here and how the streetcar will play a pivotal role in the 2013 mayor’s race here.
Thousands of people in Butler County, mainly students, are benefiting from Judge Robert Lyons’ criminal record seals, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer.
Lyons’ practice of sealing cases came to light after he sealed the case for the Miami University student who posted a flyer on how to get
away with rape. In the past five years, Lyons has sealed 2,945 cases — more
than a third of the new misdemeanor cases filed.
Ohio’s casinos are falling far short of original revenue projections, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
It’s uncertain why that’s the case, but some are pointing to
Internet-sweepstakes cafes. Cincinnati’s Horseshoe Casino, which will
open March 4, was spurred by the original projections.
StateImpact Ohio reports that many Ohio teachers are concerned with new teaching evaluation rules.
Two Cincinnati Republicans will begin reviewing the effects of legislation
that deregulated phone companies in Ohio, reports Gongwer. State Rep.
Peter Stautberg, who chairs the House Public Utilities Committee, and
State Sen. Bill Seitz, who chairs the Senate Public Utilities Committee,
will hear testimony from PUCO Tuesday.
Downtown’s Chiquita center has landed in bankruptcy, reports WCPO. The building lost its major tenant last year when Chiquita Brands relocated to Charlotte, N.C.
“Star Trek” is becoming reality. University of Cincinnati researchers are developing a tricorder device to help users monitor their own health, reports WVXU.Are you worried about space rocks recently? Popular Science says NASA is concerned as well.
0 Comments · Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Gov. John Kasich says he’s cutting
everyone’s taxes in his 2014-2015 budget, but an analysis released Feb. 7
found the plan is actually raising taxes for the poor and middle class.
by German Lopez
Parking vandalism, Cranley demands debate, Kasich plan limits counties
Damaged parking meters in Over-the-Rhine are causing problems
for residents and local businesses. For months, thieves have been
cutting off the top of meters to steal change. The vandals
directly steal revenue from the city, ensure the damaged meters
won’t collect revenue until they’re fixed and force the city to shell
out more money to fix the meters. Businesses and residents are also
worried the damaged meters cause confusion for drivers
and make the area look unattractive.
Democratic mayoral candidate John Cranley wants to debate
Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, a Democrat who’s also running for mayor, over
the city’s plan to privatize parking services. Cranley, a former
council member, has pushed the city to find an alternative to the
privatization plan — sometimes leading him to make claims with little backing.
Qualls isn’t ecstatic about the privatization plan, but she seems to
side with City Manager Milton Dohoney’s position that it’s necessary to avoid the layoff of 344 city employees.
County officials around the state are peeved at Gov. John Kasich’s budget plan because it limits how much they can leverage in county sales taxes.
The proposal bars counties from changing their sales tax rates for
three years starting July 2013, and it also adjusts county’s rates to
force a 10 percent revenue increase over the prior year beginning
December 2013. The Kasich administration claims the move is necessary to
prevent county governments from using the governor’s plan to subtly raise the sales tax, but county officials argue the
move infringes on local rights. Kasich’s plan lowers the state sales tax rate from 5.5 percent to 5 percent, but it expands what’s affected by the tax.
CityBeat analyzed Kasich’s budget proposal yesterday:
CPS Still Loses Funding Under Kasich Administration:
The budget does increase school funding for Cincinnati Public
Schools (CPS), but it’s not enough to make up for the last state budget cuts
to CPS.Kasich Tax Cut Favors Wealthy:
Kasich claims he’s giving a tax cut to every Ohioan, but a new report
from Policy Matters Ohio shows the poor and middle class will pay more
on average under his plan.
Kasich’s school funding plan is also drawing complaints
from school leaders. At a press conference, Kasich made his plan sound fairly
progressive, but school leaders found the actual numbers underwhelming,
and 60 percent of schools won’t get any increased funding.
City Council Member Chris Seelbach took to Facebook to
slam Cranley for some recent comments regarding
freestanding public restrooms. During an interview with Bill Cunningham,
Cranley tried to politicize the issue
by saying City Council wants to build a $100,000 freestanding restroom.
In his Facebook post, Seelbach explained that’s not the case: “John
Cranley, if you haven't heard (which I find surprising), NO ONE on City
Council has ever said, in any capacity, that we should spend $100,000+
on a 24-hour public restroom facility. No one. In fact, I went on Bill
Cunningham to make that clear. I'd appreciate if you'd stop trying to
politicize the real issue: Finding a way to offer more public restroom
choices in our urban core for our growing and thriving city. In case you
didn't hear my interview with Cunningham, or my comments to almost
every media source in this region, I'll post the interview again.”
Seelbach’s interview with Cunningham can be found here.
Clifton’s new grocery store will begin construction next week. Goessling's Market-Clifton is finally replacing Keller's IGA on Ludlow Avenue.
A local high school’s prom was canceled
to punish students for a massive water balloon fight at lunch. The giant fight
was planned as a prank on social media, and school staff tried to
prevent it by warning students of the repercussions on the day of the
prank. Students did not listen. Prom was lame, anyway.
PNC Bank donated $450,000
to Smale Riverfront Park. The money will be used to build the PNC Grow
Up Great Adventure Playground, which will have a swinging rope bridge
for kids to walk across a canyon. PNC is among a handful companies to donate
to the riverfront park; most recently, Procter & Gamble donated $1
Cincinnati was called the most literate city in Ohio.
The Montgomery County Democratic Party endorsed the Freedom to Marry Amendment, which would legalize same-sex marriage. CityBeat wrote about the amendment here.
Kasich’s latest budget proposal would privatize
food services in prisons to save $16.2 million. The Ohio Civil Service
Employees Association, which represents prison staff, has come out
against the plan.
A lawsuit has been filed
to take down a Jesus portrait in Jackson Middle School in southern
Ohio. The lawsuit is being backed by the American Civil Liberties Union
of Ohio and the Freedom from Religion Foundation. They argue the
portrait is an “unconstitutional endorsement of religion and must be
A new cure for color blindness: goofy glasses.
There’s new evidence that a giant asteroid really sparked earth’s last great mass extinction event, which killed the dinosaurs.
by German Lopez
Top 1 percent to get more than $10,000 a year from cuts
Gov. John Kasich says he’s cutting everyone’s
taxes in his 2014-2015 budget, but an analysis released Thursday found the plan is actually raising taxes for the poor and middle class. The Policy Matters Ohio report
reveals the poorest Ohioans will see a tax increase of $63 from Kasich’s budget plan,
while the top 1 percent will see a tax decrease of $10,369.
For the poorest Ohioans, the new
tax burden comes through the sales tax. On average, the bottom 20 percent of the income ladder will have their income taxes reduced by $8, but the sales tax
plan will actually increase their average sales tax burden by $71.
The middle 20 percent fares slightly better. Under the budget proposal, they will get
a $157 income tax cut on average, but their sales tax burden will go up by
$165 — meaning they'll end up paying $8 more in taxes.
The top 1 percent get the most out of Kasich’s tax plan.
Their income taxes will be reduced by a whopping $11,150. The top 1 percent
do see the highest sales tax increase at $781, but it’s nowhere near
enough to make up for the massive income tax cut.
Kasich says his budget is all about creating jobs and spurring the economy, but the regressive tax system defies economic research. A previous analysis from the Congressional Budget
Office (CBO), which measures the budgetary and economic impact of
federal policy, found
letting tax cuts expire on the wealthy would barely dent the economy. The same report also found the economy greatly benefits from tax and social welfare programs that
disproportionately benefit the lower and middle classes.
Another report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) also concluded tax hikes on the rich would have negligible economic
impact. The findings made national Republicans so angry that they
pressured CRS to pull the report. CRS later re-released the study — except this time it had nicer language to appease politicians that can’t handle reality.
Kasich’s plan proposes cutting the state income tax by 20
percent across the board and lowering the sales tax from 5.5 percent to 5
percent. To pay for the cuts, the proposal broadens the sales tax so it
applies to additional services — including cable TV services, coin-operated video games and admission to sports events
and amusement parks —
while keeping exemptions for education, health care, rent and
For more analysis of Kasich’s budget, check out CityBeat’s other coverage:
CPS Still Loses Funding Under Kasich AdministrationGovernor’s Budget Ignores Troubled PastKasich Budget Expands Medicaid, Cuts Taxes
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
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
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
Austerity hurts U.S. economy, voter suppression returns, state income tax benefits rich
Between October and December, the U.S. economy unexpectedly shrank by 0.1 percent — the first contraction since 2009. The downturn was
primarily caused by the threat of conservative fiscal policies,
particularly defense spending cuts. Dropping business inventories also
helped drag down the economy. Otherwise, consumer and business spending
was actually strong.
Some Republicans want another go at reducing voting rights.
Rep. Mike Dovilla, chairman of the newly created House Policy &
Legislative Oversight Committee, says he wants to consider measures that
crack down on alleged voter fraud, including reduced voting
times and a photo ID requirement to vote. But in-person voter fraud is not a real problem. News21, a Carnegie-Knight investigative reporting project, found only 10 cases of in-person voting fraud in the United States between 2000 and 2012.
That’s not even one case of in-person fraud each year. The real reason
Republicans want to enact stricter voting measures is to hinder young, minority
voters that typically support Democrats. One study found 700,000 young, minority voters were excluded by photo ID laws in 2012.
A Policy Matters Ohio report found Ohio’s income tax hits the poor and middle class
a lot harder than the wealthy. The numbers from the report: “The top 1
percent of non-elderly Ohio families by income, who earned at least
$324,000 in 2010, on average pay 8.1 percent of their income in state
and local income, property, sales and excise taxes. By contrast, the
lowest fifth, who make less than $17,000, on average pay 11.6 percent.
Families in the middle fifth of the income spectrum, who make between
$31,000 and $49,000, on average pay 10.6 percent.”
Cincinnati is extending its contract
with Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) for a month
despite an ongoing conflict, but the supposed conflict is really much ado about nothing.
SORTA wants the city to guarantee it won’t use the transit fund for the
streetcar, but City Council has already passed a resolution saying it
won’t and Mayor Mark Mallory has repeatedly stated he will not use the
transit fund for the streetcar. Due to the mayor’s race, the streetcar
will be facing another contentious year at the ballot box,
which CityBeat covered in-depth here.
More than 60 percent of Greater Cincinnati entrepreneurs are expecting a net profit
in 2013. Most of them also expect to hire part-time employees,
according to a new survey from the Entrepreneurs’ Organization. The
survey is another sign of rising confidence in the U.S.
economy.The Dayton Daily News reports manufacturing is driving economic growth in Ohio, to the benefit of more than half of the state’s counties.
When defending Ohio's charter school and voucher programs, conservatives often tout the magic of “school choice,” but a Policy
Matters report found school choice may hurt education standards in the state.
Ed FitzGerald, a popular Democrat from Cuyahoga County, is gearing up to run for the governor's race in 2014.
Scientists have taught bacteria to eat electricity. The trick could eventually be used to turn microorganisms into a biofuel source.