August 20, 2014

Keary McCarthy Is New President of Innovation Ohio

For Immediate Release: July 9, 2014
Contact: Dale Butland, 614-783-5833

Keary McCarthy Is New President of Innovation Ohio
Janetta King remains Board Chair

Columbus — Innovation Ohio, a progressive think tank headquartered in Columbus, announced today that Keary McCarthy will become its new President and CEO in early August.  McCarthy, a long- time fixture in Ohio progressive politics, will take over as President/CEO for IO founder Janetta King, who will retain her role as Chair of the Board. For the past two months, King has been splitting her time between Columbus and Washington, D.C. where she serves as Chief of Staff to CAP Action President (and former Ohio Governor) Ted Strickland.

Since 2011, McCarthy has been Minority Chief of Staff at the Ohio House of Representatives where he managed all operational and administrative duties for the lower chamber’s Democratic members.  In that role, McCarthy provided strategic direction for all policy, legislative and communications matters.  He previously held top policy and communications posts for former House Speaker Armond Budish, the 2008 Obama Presidential campaign in  Ohio, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, and the transition team for then-newly elected Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald. Prior to his work in government, McCarthy served as communications director for ballot measures in 2005 on redistricting and election reform, and a successful effort in 2006 to increase Ohio’s minimum wage. McCarthy, a life-long Ohio resident, lives in the Clintonville neighborhood of Columbus with his wife, Lori, and their two young children.

Said IO Board Chair Janetta King:

“As the founder of Innovation Ohio, I’m absolutely thrilled that Keary has agreed to become its President. While I will remain deeply involved with IO, the organization needs a full-time, hands-on President, which was no longer possible for me because of my duties at CAP Action in Washington. Keary’s work at the Ohio House has been first-rate — and he is deeply committed to the progressive causes that are at the heart of our organization. Fortunately, the rest of IO’s incredibly talented and hard-working team remains in place — and with Keary at the helm, I know IO won’t miss a beat in providing the kind of research, analysis and communication for which we’ve become known.”

Said McCarthy:

“Innovation Ohio’s hard-hitting policy analysis has been an important counterweight to the conservative ideology that has dominated state government over these last three years. I believe that having a strong, Ohio-based progressive think tank in the mother-of-all swing states is critical both now and in the future.  I’m thrilled at the opportunity to lead this organization, build on its success, and find new ways to strengthen the progressive voice in Ohio and beyond.”

IO Assails “Hobby Lobby” Decision

For Immediate Release: June 30, 2014
Contact: Dale Butland, 614-783-5833

Think Tank Calls Ruling “Another Blow to Women’s Rights”

Columbus — Innovation Ohio, a progressive think tank headquartered in Columbus, today strongly criticized the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the so-called “Hobby Lobby” case.

Communications Director Dale Butland issued the following statement:

“By finding in favor of Hobby Lobby today, the U.S. Supreme Court struck another blow against women’s rights, and took another step toward corporate rule in America.

“In the Citizens United case of 2010, the Court’s conservative majority ruled that corporations have ‘free speech’ rights.  Today, they granted corporations ‘religious rights.’   While we can only guess what new rights companies may be granted next, there can be no doubt that five of the Court’s nine Justices agree with Mitt Romney’s view that ‘corporations are people, my friend.’

“The clearest victims of today’s ruling are female employees, who must now effectively get their bosses’ permission if they want access to birth control under company insurance policies.  Tomorrow’s victims may include any worker who needs a medical treatment  — including, say, a blood transfusion — to which his or her employer has a religious objection.

“There was a time in America when the First Amendment was not interpreted to  include the right to impose one’s religious beliefs on others.  We can only hope that day will come again. “

Rep Hood Tries to Force Vote on Heartbeat Bill

The controversial Heartbeat Bill is back in the news. The Heartbeat Bill, HB 248, was introduced in the fall and hasn’t received any hearings. The bill would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat was detected. In other states Federal courts have ruled against this type of legislation. If the bill did pass in Ohio, it would likely lead to a long battle in the courts.

Noting that he’d like to see a vote prior to the house recessing for the Summer, Representative Hood announced that he would begin circulating a discharge petition to force the bill out of committee and to floor vote. In order for this to happen 50 members of the House must sign on. A similar bill was passed by the house in 2011, however it died in the Senate.

Representative Hood has indicated that he is relying on constituents to push their Representative to sign the petition. Now’s the time to speak up and let the Ohio House know that Ohioans do not support this bill. Call your representative today, ask them not to sign the discharge petition and let them know that you are opposed to this legislation.

You can determine who your Representative is here.

Ohio may eliminate clean energy requirement, pass up green jobs

Ohio lawmakers are poised to short-circuit an emerging industry that has created thousands of new jobs in recent years, in the process undermining efforts to clean up the air, reduce climate-changing emissions and save consumers billions in electricity costs.

Renewables — including wind, solar, biomass, hydro, geothermal and ocean energy — supply 16.7 percent of the world’s energy. The U.S. still lags other nations in shifting to clean energy, with only 4.7 percent currently derived from renewables, but these sources represented 39 percent of new U.S. power capacity added in 2011.

The shift to clean energy represents a considerable investment. A recent report from the UN’s Environmental Program and Bloomberg found that worldwide investment in renewable power is set to surpass investment in fossil fuel technologies — $260 billion in 2012 alone.

With that investment comes jobs. In Ohio, the advanced energy sector employs 25,000, and that number is growing rapidly, thanks in large part to the state’s renewable energy standard. The law, in effect since 2009, requires an increasingly larger share of the state’s electricity supply to be derived from nontraditional sources. By 2025, fully 25 percent of the state’s electricity must come from advanced sources, with 12.5 percent of that from clean, renewable energy.

Because of that guaranteed market for clean energy, developers are making large investments in Ohio projects. The standard is estimated to have led to the creation of over 3,000 new jobs and AEP alone says that its plan to comply with the law will create 4,000 more clean energy jobs.

Now Ohio legislators, at the urging of the state’s electric utilities, may change all that. New legislation — Senate Bill 310 (text) — would eliminate the standard, requiring only that utilities continue to produce 2.5 percent of their energy from renewable sources, the level in effect in 2014.

figure_1 [Read more...]

Ohio newspaper finds charter school oversight lacking

The Akron Beacon Journal is publishing a series of stories pointing out serious issues with Ohio’s Charter Schools and the laws that govern the $900 million in taxpayer money that goes to them annually.

On Sunday, the paper demonstrated that it is almost impossible to find basic information about Charter School operations (like who runs the school, when does the school board meet, etc.): More than 100 publicly funded charter schools fail to disclose who is in charge

In today’s story, the Beacon demonstrates how White Hat Management is able to essentially run for-profit operations in the guise of a non-profit: Board members at White Hat charter schools say they have little control over public funds

It is difficult to see how anyone in the Ohio Legislature would be able to defend the way these things are working. Don’t forget that Ohio Charter Schools have historically performed far worse than the districts from which they receive kids and money. And they cost the state about twice as much per pupil, all while spending nearly 3 times as much on administration.

There are a few very high performing charters in this state. But the fact that there are only a couple handfuls of those and far more unsuccessful ones demonstrates that Ohio needs to revisit its Charter School laws to ensure what our tax dollars fund are quality educational experiences for our kids, not more turns at the public trough for the adults.

Ohio Ranks 32nd Among States in Job Creation

February employment data for state and local areas was released this morning and reveals that Ohio continues to lag most of the nation in creating new jobs. In February, 5.28 million Ohioans were employed, which is 50,000 more than the 5.23 million Ohioans employed at the same time in 2014. But it represents just 1% annual growth, which ranks Ohio just 32nd among all 50 states for job growth in the past year:

50-state rankings

This is a drop from Ohio’s rank of 27 in last month’s tally of 12-month job growth.

Governor Kasich continues to insist that another income tax cut is what Ohio needs to attract business and create jobs, but the data do not support that. Looking at job growth from February, 2013 to February, 2014, Ohio was outperformed by six of the ten states identified by the conservative Tax Foundation as having the “worst” business tax climates (look no further than high-tax California, which ranked #8 in creating new jobs).

It’s clear that tax rates in Ohio are not the only factor holding us back.

Ohio lost jobs in February, lags the nation in job creation

Today, February employment data was released that shows the state’s unemployment rate reaching 6.5 percent, its first dip below the national rate since July. The decline suggests job-seekers are leaving the job market, because the number of Ohioans with jobs actually declined.

In February, the number of Ohioans with jobs decreased by 4,600, with large declines reported in construction and local government. Job numbers for January were also revised downward. As a result, Ohio continues to lag the national rate of employment gains since Governor Kasich took office — just 4.3% compared to 5.3% for the US as a whole.

3.21.14 february jobs

New Employment Data Shows Ohio Still Underperforming

Yesterday, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics released its monthly regional and state employment figures, showing Ohio gaining 16,700 jobs in January and the unemployment rate dropping to 6.9 percent. Also incorporated into the January numbers were revisions to 2013 data to reflect the results of the Bureau’s annual benchmarking process. The revisions are good news for Ohio, showing that 68,000 more Ohioans were working in 2013 than had been previously reported.

So, what can we now conclude about job-creation in the state since the recession? That Ohio’s growth is not as bad as it had looked before – when monthly reports showed Ohio consistently in the bottom five among states in yearly job creation – but not as good as it could be. Ohio falls squarely in the middle of the pack among states in adding jobs, and lags the nation as a whole in both employment gains and in reducing the ranks of the unemployed.

Here is how Ohio’s job growth measures up against the nation as a whole:


[Read more...]

Women, Not Bosses, Should Make Decisions About Their Healthcare

On March 25th, the Supreme Court is hearing two cases brought by owners of for-profit corporations, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialist.  Citing religious reasons, these corporations wants to take away birth control coverage for their female employees.  In partnership with the National Women’s Law Center, Innovation Ohio has signed onto an Amicus Brief filed for these two cases. The brief outlines our belief that granting these exceptions to for-profit companies is dangerous and discriminatory.


The birth control coverage benefit has been in effect since August 1, 2012. More than 27 million women, including 1,037,000 in Ohio, have coverage for birth control thanks to this benefit.   Women are able to get birth control with no out-of-pocket expense.     Birth control is one of the most used preventive health services among women. 99 percent of sexually active women have used birth control. Excluding it from insurance coverage but covering the full range of preventive care for men is discrimination.

A Supreme Court decision allowing bosses to use their religious beliefs to deny employees birth control coverage could have far reaching consequences and creates a slippery slope. This could open the door to companies using religion as a legal way to discriminate.  A decision in favor of these companies could open the door to more anti-gay laws, such as the recent legislation in Arizona.  Bosses could further impose their beliefs by denying employees coverage for other important health services such as vaccinations, testing for sexual transmitted infection or maternity care.  They could even cite religious objections to hiring women at all.

The bottom line is women, not bosses, should be able to make their personal health care decisions.


State of the State: Governor restores school outreach program at 2% of prior funding level

Gov. John Kasich announced at his State of the State speech yesterday that he would be putting $10 million into bridging the gaps between schools, families and communities. Here’s the exact language from his “Fact Sheet” released after the speech:

“The governor will propose using $10 million from casino-licensing fees to support innovative community efforts that bring together parents, community organizations, faith-based groups, businesses and others in support of our schools and to mentor students.  The 3-to-1 matching grants will help give more Ohio students access to role models who can help motivate and inspire them, as well as help them develop skills that lead to success in school and the workplace.”

If this sounds familiar, it should. That’s because during the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school years, the state actually funded Family and Community Liaisons for every 75 children living in poverty in a district. They would have served almost exactly the same functions as Kasich’s $10 million program.

However, the the level of commitment was drastically different. During the biennium prior to Kasich taking office, the state calculated that children needed $987.8 million to better connect their education with their family and community. The state actually funded $567 million of that because the formula was being phased in over time during the Great Recession. [Read more...]