August 2, 2015

Ohioan to head efforts to restore U.S. auto industry

Innovation Ohio would like to extend our best wishes to Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams as he prepares to mark his last day in office on Monday before taking on an exciting and critical new role. Williams has been selected to become the new executive director of the Department of Labor’s Office of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers, otherwise known as the “auto czar.”

Williams’ appointment, announced earlier this month, was applauded by Senator Sherrod Brown, who called it “a loss for Youngstown, but a win for the auto sector and the nearly 800,000 Ohio workers whose jobs are tied to this critical industry.” Brown has been a key advocate for federal intervention in the industry.

Since 2009, thanks to intervention by President Obama, both GM and Chrysler have emerged from bankruptcy, recaptured market share, returned to profitability and have even begun to expand. GM recently announced a $204M investment in its Toledo facility in the production of its new 8-speed fuel-efficient transmission. Meanwhile, Chrysler has repaid its outstanding loans to the U.S. Treasury, six years early. And at Lordstown, where prior to the rescue effort, 1,000 jobs were at risk, has now added a third shift and employs nearly 5,000 workers.

In all, it is estimated that 164,654 jobs in Ohio would have been lost if it were not for the auto rescue. We applaud Mayor Williams on his commitment to support the preservation and economic health of Ohio communities and workers dependent on the American automotive industry.

Report: vouchers less about students than parents

Proponents of educational vouchers frequently say that better choices for their kids are the reason they should be able to take public  tax dollars to private institutions. But a new study suggests that what voucher proponents really want are choices for parents. In fact, vouchers have zero positive impact on student outcomes, according to the study.

review of research on publicly-funded voucher programs by the Center on Education Policy shows that “achievement gains for voucher students are similar to those of their public school peers.” The review also found that rhetoric used by voucher proponents has shifted from a focus on improved student achievement to parent satisfaction and the virtue of choice.

We hope this catches the attention of the Kasich administration, whose policy objective was recently claimed to be exactly the opposite:

“What’s right for students sometimes doesn’t fit with what’s been done in the past,” said Robert Sommers, Kasich’s education adviser. Improving Ohio’s schools will no longer be “adult-driven,” he said.

If the best argument for voucher programs are their convenience for adults, not student success, perhaps the administration should slow down and take stock of Ohio’s existing $80 million program before launching ahead with its plans to quadruple the amount diverted to private schools.

State prison system announces largest mass layoff of 2011

On Friday, it was learned that in the wake of state budget cuts and in anticipation of the Governor’s plan to privatize five prisons, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction plans to eliminate 1,135 jobs by the end of the year. In all, approximately 950 workers will lose their jobs, including hundreds of prison guards, nurses, teachers, administrative staff, and even five chaplains. Some of these workers will be able to reapply for their jobs with the private prison operators, but continued employment is far from guaranteed.

The cuts are needed, officials say, to make up for a $188 million reduction in state funding over the biennium. Rather than use the proceeds gained from selling the prisons to private companies, estimated to net $200 million for the state, that money was instead used as a one-time source of funds to prop up the state budget.

By federal law, private employers who plan to terminate 50 or more workers are required to notify the state, who tracks these mass layoff events on its website. The state’s action to reduce the ranks of prison guards, parole officers and other personnel represents the largest mass layoff in the state of Ohio so far in 2011.

As we predicted in April, cuts in the current state budget could have the effect of putting up to 51,000 Ohioans out of work.

IO on TV: Dale Butland on OPTV’s The State of Ohio

Innovation Ohio’s Communications Director, Dale Butland, appeared on Ohio Public Television’s The State of Ohio to debate Jeff Longstreth, campaign manager for Ohioans for Health Care Reform about a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow Ohio to opt out of a new federal law requiring individuals to purchase health insurance.

Watch online:

Toledo Air Cargo hub to close, eliminate 700 jobs

Toledo air cargo carrier DB Schenker announced on Friday that it is closing its Ohio air cargo hub, a move that will result in the loss of over 700 jobs. The company blamed the move on the poor economy, prompting flashbacks to a similar announcement by air cargo carrier DHL in late 2008 to cease its Ohio operations.

The DHL move did not go unnoticed by Governor Kasich when he was a candidate for office. In his first campaign commercial, shot at the shuttered air cargo facility, Kasich sympathized with displaced workers, speaking of the job loss this way:

“It’s not a statistic, it’s people.”
[Read more…]

DVR Alert: IO’s Dale Butland to appear on Ohio Public Television

Innovation Ohio’s Communications Director Dale Butland will appear on Ohio Public Television’s The State of Ohio program tonight, airing at 5:30 p.m. on all Ohio public television stations.

Dale joins host Karen Kasler and fellow guest Jeff Longstreth, Executive Director, Ohio Liberty Council for a debate on the “Ohio Healthcare Freedom Amendment.”

Ohio’s Unemployment Increases: Kasich’s ‘Jobs Budget’ Killing Jobs

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services released Ohio’s unemployment numbers for June today. These numbers show the earliest impacts of Governor Kasich’s policy agenda, including his recently passed budget.

The unemployment rate was 8.8 percent in June, an increase from 8.6 percent in May. This is the first time that the unemployment rate has increased since August of 2009, breaking a 22-month streak of unemployment holding steady or decreasing.

The industry with the most significant job losses from the previous month was government, with local governments seeing the biggest losses of 8900 jobs. This likely reflects the first impact of Governor Kasich’s “Jobs Budget,” which contained severe cuts to local governments. Unfortunately as IO warned earlier this year, we are now well on our way to an anticipated loss of 51,000 jobs as a result of Kasich’s budget.

Other items of note from the ODJFS release are as follows:

  • The number of workers unemployed in Ohio in June increased to 517,000, up from 508,000 in May.
  • Ohio saw an increase in nonfarm wage and salary employment, with an increase of 10,600 over the month, from the revised 5,095,000 in May to 5,105,600 in June. This includes an increase of 10,900 jobs in the leisure and hospitality industry, an industry that traditionally sees increases in the summer months.
  • Local governments saw a loss of 8,900 jobs.
  • The manufacturing sector saw a loss of 3,000 jobs.
  • The construction industry saw an increase of 2,800 jobs, likely due to summer construction.
  • The U.S. unemployment rate for June was 9.2 percent, up from 9.1 percent in May.

This data is seasonally adjusted.

You can download a copy of this report here.

Teacher Evaluations: No Need to Re-invent the Wheel

In 2009, House Bill 1 was passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by the Governor.  Included in that legislation was the bold education reform that now, two years later, the current Governor says he wants to achieve.  It is really necessary for Gov. Kasich to re-create the wheel?

HB 1 required the Educator Standards Board to develop a model teacher evaluation system that included measuring student achievement as a prominent feature of the evaluation. Ohio’s Race To the Top evaluators explained this provision this way:

“The influence of House Bill 1 (HB 1) in this instance cannot be overestimated. It requires the State Board of Education to adopt credible, comprehensive evaluation models for teachers and principals that include multiple measures of effectiveness including a method for measuring student growth. As a result, the state has developed an effective means of evaluating both teachers and principals after input by both groups.”

Over the last two years, the ESB has developed that system using the input of teachers and principals, as well as researchers and experts. It has been field tested in several school districts this last school year. And, in a somewhat embarrassing dose of reality to Kasich and his friends, it was presented to the State School Board last week, revealing just how pedestrian Kasich’s plan was compared with the deeply detailed ESB work. And you want to know something? Contrary to Kasich & Co.’s claims, Ohio’s teachers unions support this evaluation system, which includes up to 50% of a teacher’s evaluation to be based on student outcomes.

IO has looked at what the Governor’s budget requires the State School Board to develop on teacher evaluation and compared it with what the ESB has already developed. What is clear is that the ESB is far ahead of the Governor’s vision. (See attached chart)

IO requests that in the interest of saving taxpayer money, the state school board should continue working with teachers and principals to further develop this model teacher evaluation tool rather than scrapping it for some new reinvention of the wheel.

Kasich approval falling; “unfairness” perception rising

For months, IO has said that Governor Kasich’s policies are fundamentally unfair to regular Ohioans and average families.  Evidently, a growing majority agrees.

This morning, Quinnipiac University released its latest poll which found that just 35% of Ohioans now support Governor Kasich (down from 38% in May) and shows him “sinking slowly into the quicksand of voter disapproval.”

The poll also explained why—a growing belief among Ohioans that the Governor’s budget is “unfair” to people like them. This, of course, is exactly what we’ve been saying—that John Kasich favors the rich and powerful, but turns his back on working Ohioans.

And now a solid majority is turning its back on Gov. Kasich. Whether it’s his extremist SB 5 and its all-out assault on the rights of public workers, the billions of dollars in unfair cuts he’s making to schools and local government services, or the millions in corporate welfare he’s handing out in things like tax breaks for oil companies, voters have caught on to the Kasich agenda.  And what do you get when you help the rich and hurt the rest?  A 35% approval rating.  Which we believe will continue to fall, in the Governor’s vernacular, “at the speed of business.”

New Questions About Moelis

The Columbus Dispatch reports that Moelis won Kasich’s gambling consulting contract despite not being the lowest bidder. The Dispatch also says that Moelis’ payoff was $15.6 million, not the $13 million originally reported. Not surprisingly, the paper quotes a gaming industry expert as saying that Moelis is “overcharging the state” and that the fee is “excessive.” He notes that his firm, which also bid on the contract, “would have done it for a third of what Moelis is making.”

As Innovation Ohio spokesperson Dale Butland put it in the story, “it’s unusual to pick a second place finisher in a competitive bid.” And “the sweet deal Moelis got was crazily out of alignment.”

This news is in addition to Innovation Ohio’s report of a troubling relationship between Penn National and Moelis. Is this the beginning of Moelis-gate?