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.
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: