Archive for July, 2011

MUST READ: Toledo Blade “Wasted tax dollars”

The Toledo Blade called the proposed ballot issue to amend federal health-care reform passed by congress last year “wasted tax dollars.” Excerpts of the Blade Editorial follow:

“Ohio Republicans and Tea Party types don’t need to use taxpayer dollars to keep griping about President Obama’s health-care reform plan. Yet that will be the biggest, and maybe the only, effect of a proposal on the statewide ballot this November that purports to block a pending provision of ObamaCare requiring Americans to obtain health insurance.

“The ballot issue is likely to do no such thing. The notion that a state constitutional amendment, even one approved by voters, can supersede or nullify federal law is at least questionable. The federal appeals court whose circuit includes Ohio has upheld the health-care law, including the individual mandate.

“The U.S. Supreme Court seems destined to rule on the constitutionality of the mandate, and perhaps the entire law…

“That is a federal issue for the high court to adjudicate. There is no reason to assume the outcome of the Ohio popular vote will affect that process.

“So why spend tax money on this exercise in partisan symbolism …Mostly because it will bring Republican voters to the polls in an off-year election, which also will determine whether a new state law that guts public employees’ collective-bargaining rights will take effect.

“State GOP leaders have made that link cynically clear. The difference is that the outcome of the vote on Senate Bill 5 will have great practical effect, while the ObamaCare vote probably will not.

“The Ohio ballot question does not challenge, or emphasize, the features of the new health-care law that Americans like: its extension of affordable coverage, through private-sector competition, to tens of millions of people who lack health insurance; its requirement that insurers not deny coverage to customers with pre-existing conditions or cancel coverage for policyholders who get sick; its financial incentives to small businesses to insure their employees…

“Instead, it singles out one provision — albeit one that makes the reform law work — as an example of alleged government overreach, because it requires individuals and large employers to arrange for medical coverage or face financial penalties. Yet the ballot proposal’s authors do not seem similarly exercised about the state mandate that requires Ohio motorists to buy auto insurance, evidently because they haven’t figured out how to blame that law on the President and use it to deny him re-election next year.

“…Ohio will waste tax dollars this November to promote a partisan agenda and indulge a Tea Party hobbyhorse. Let’s hear it for the plan’s backers — those champions of cost-efficient, nonintrusive government.”

Read the full editorial here.

MUST READ: “Columbus Dispatch” State budget’s targeted tax breaks draw criticism

Policy Matters Ohio recently released a budget analysis showing Gov. Kasich’s budget gives hundreds of millions in tax breaks to the wealthy and special interest, while slashing millions in education and public safety funds. Excerpts of the Columbus Dispatch article by Darrel Rowland follow:

“At the same time that lawmakers were making wide-ranging cuts in the state budget enacted this month, they gave more than $400 million in tax breaks, a public policy group says in a new analysis.

“’Some of the kind of tax breaks we are generating do not have any job requirements attached to them,’ said Zach Schiller, research director of Policy Matters Ohio, a liberal-leaning group based in Cleveland.

“’We’ve got every state trying to do this type of thing, and it’s a zero-sum game…’

“The beneficiaries of these new or extended incentives approved by legislators and Gov. John Kasich range from horse tracks to private operators of the state’s development efforts and Ohio Turnpike to gift cards and customer-loyalty programs to buildings for captive deer.

“’We comprehensively overhauled our business tax system in 2005 under the theory we were cutting large numbers of special breaks and abatements because we would have a tax system that would have lower rates and attract business.

“’Are we in effect saying that’s failed?’ Schiller said.

“Kasich defended his budget approach as “absolutely correct.”

“House Democratic leader Armond Budish of Beachwood agreed with the Policy Matters assessment.

“’It is inexcusable that Ohio’s recently passed budget cuts millions from education, police and fire protection, mental-health services and long-term care for seniors, while giving huge tax cuts to the wealthiest among us and to special interests,’ Budish said.

‘”The effects of the hundreds of millions in lost revenue will be catastrophic, and the burden of fixing it will be left for the next General Assembly, while communities across the state pay the price.’

“The Senate’s version of a state budget called for a panel to study the state’s tax breaks, but that provision was stripped out in the final deal with the House and governor’s office.

…”

Read the full article here.

MUST READ: Zanesville Times Recorder “House, Senate members look for public input on redistricting”

In Zanesville yesterday at the second of five scheduled public hearings on congressional redistricting State Rep. Kathleen Clyde stressed the importance of public input and openness in the process. Excerpts of the article by Brian Gadd of the Zanesville Times Recorder follow:

“Members of the Ohio House and Senate committees tasked with looking at Congressional Redistricting conducted a joint hearing Wednesday at the Ohio University-Zanesville/Zane State College Campus Center.

“Ohio is losing two of its 18 Congressional seats because of population shifts and likely will be taken from the Cleveland and Cincinnati areas.

“Only two people came to speak to members of the House State Government and Elections Subcommittee and Senate Select Committee on Redistricting because of a lack of publicity. The Times Recorder learned of the 3 p.m. meeting via an email shortly beforehand …Robert Brems Sr., of Coshocton, said he didn’t know about the meeting until Wednesday morning.

“The committees will make three more stops around the state — today in Cleveland and Aug. 2 in Lima and Cincinnati — in an effort to collect public input on the redistricting process.

“’Voters should be engaged in this process and it’s unfortunate not many people knew about this hearing,’ said Rep. Kathleen Clyde, a Democrat from Kent representing the 68th legislative district. ‘But this is just stage 1 of many stages. Let’s hope this openness continues throughout the process.’

“Brems pitched a Congressional map he drew up…

“Brems said he became interested in tackling the redistricting process for himself in April, and he created his map based on the changing populations.

“He said he was worried about the ‘political shenanigans’ likely to occur in the state’s process which would further gerrymander districts to create or save ‘safe’ House districts for certain politicians.

“Allowing the public to have their redistricting ideas considered ‘would take a lot of animosity out of the process.’

“He told the committee his plan was published in the Coshocton Tribune on May 1, and he sent copies to Gov. Kasich and Secretary of State Jon Husted…

“But committee members Rep. Tom Letson, a Democrat from Warren, and Rep. Vernon Sykes, a Democrat from Akron, lauded Brems’ efforts.

“Clyde agreed.

“’I like the idea of the public submitting plans, rather than the public’s idea of back-room deals being done,’ she said, in regard to Brems’ map and the announcement of redistricting competitions.

…”

Read the full article here.

House, Senate Lawmakers Urge Kasich to Consider More Women on JobsOhio Board

Female lawmakers from both the Ohio House and Senate today raised concerns over the lack of women appointed the JobsOhio corporate board and the underrepresentation of women in state government as a whole. 

Sen. Minority Leader Capri Cafaro (D-Hubbard) and State Rep.  Nancy Garland (D- New Albany), Chair of the Ohio House Democratic Women’s Caucus, sent a letter to Gov. Kasich today requesting a woman be appointed to fill the final vacancy on the JobsOhio Board. They also raised concerns about the overall lack of female representation currently in state government.

See the a copy of the letter below:

Dear Governor Kasich: 

We write to you today to express our great disappointment about the seriously deficient representation of women on the JobsOhio corporate board, as well as throughout your administration.

Among the appointments you made last week to the JobsOhio Board, only one of the eight appointees was female.  Yet, nearly 28 percent of small businesses in Ohio are owned by women.  Women play a vital role in Ohio’s economic mix and should be more adequately represented on the JobsOhio board. [Small Business Association, 2/2011]

As you know, equality in the work place has been an enduring struggle.  In recent years, women have surpassed men in the number of advanced degrees, yet they continue to be compensated at 78 percent the rate of their male counterparts. Regrettably, the limited representation of women on this board will only perpetuate this struggle for equality of women in the workplace and in leadership roles here in Ohio. [Times Reporter, 4/27/2011]

Unfortunately, this is not the only example an underrepresentation of women in important leadership roles within state government.  There are 26 members of your cabinet and only four of them are women.  This is far fewer than previous governors.  Moreover, the women you have chosen for cabinet positions are entrusted with smaller agencies, smaller budgets and smaller staffs than their male cabinet members. 

At the same time that we see a lack of women in executive offices and appointments, we look at our legislative chambers and see far fewer women in leadership positions.  In the Ohio House, among the 25 chairs of the standing committees and subcommittees, there is only one female chair.  In the Ohio Senate, there are 14 different committee chairs and again only one is female. 

In addition to this gross underrepresentation of women in state government, it has also come to our attention that the Governor’s Office of Women’s Initiatives and Outreach has been inexplicably dismantled.  This is yet another troubling sign that public policy issues concerning women are not getting the attention or support from your administration.

Not giving women a voice in important decision-making roles is a trend that could do long-term damage to the women in our state and to the state as a whole.  Women are being hit hardest by state and local government budget cuts across the country because women make up a larger proportion of the public sector workforce.  Women are also recovering more slowly than men from the national recession caused by the recklessness of the financial industry.  This is a problem that we ignore at our peril [Chicago Sun Times, 6/15/2011].

Governor, we need your commitment to diversity for our state to advance and succeed.  Fairness, diversity, and inclusion are important values that are keys to building a stronger more vibrant Ohio. The business community has found this to be a formula for success and we must heed their example. 

Please do not let your time in office go down in the history books as the time we marched backwards and undid decades of progress toward a more diverse and successful state.  We ask that you find and appoint a qualified woman to the final open position on the Jobs Ohio Board.

 Respectfully,

 Sen. Minority Leader Capri Cafaro  State Rep. Nancy Garland
Sen. Edna Brown State Rep. Connie Pillich
Sen. Charleta B. Tavares State Rep. Denise Driehaus
Sen. Nina Turner State Rep. Nickie Antonio
Sen. Shirley A. Smith State Rep. Teresa Fedor
  State Rep. Lorraine M. Fende
  State Rep. Debbie Phillips
  State Rep. Kathleen Clyde
  State Rep. Tracy Maxwell Heard
  State Rep. Barbara H. Boyd
   

MUST READ: PLAIN DEALER “Gov. John Kasich spends $2 million off-the-cuff”

After passing a budget that cuts tens of millions from local governments, schools, nursing homes and other crucial services, Gov. Kasich “nonchalantly” hands out $2 million suggesting the money may need to come from Ohio’s Rainy Day Fund. Remember Governor as you said yesterday, “It’s not mine, it’s the taxpayers.” Excerpts of the Plain Dealer article follow:

“Gov. John Kasich… spent $2 million so calmly and nonchalantly you would have thought he was just handing over $2.

“While touring a research laboratory at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus the governor asked the hospital’s CEO Dr. Steve Allen what it would take for all six Ohio children’s hospitals to work more collaboratively…

“’Does $1 million get your attention?’ the straight-faced Republican governor asked Allen…

“The stunned hospital administrator smiled broadly and said yes while Kasich’s staffers looked surprised by the governor’s offer…

“Kasich then upped his offer, negotiating against himself, to $2 million. He then turned to State Rep. Anne Gonzales, a suburban Columbus Republican, who was also taking the tour, and told her that he may need to snatch the money from the state’s Budget Stabilization Fund, the so-called rainy day fund.

“He would need legislative approval to take rainy day cash. Gonzales said Kasich had her vote.

“’I’ll give you a couple million,’ Kasich said, brokering a deal before a small throng of television cameras, reporters and hospital workers in a small research office. ‘But you’ve got to share it. It’s not mine, it’s the taxpayers.’

“Kasich spent the money in about 60 seconds while calling for one of his staffers to get his budget director Tim Keen on the phone. Keen was nowhere to be found. He’s vacationing with his family and didn’t answer. The governor joked later that he better let his budget director know what he had just done.

…”

Read the full article here.


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