August 30, 2015

News Release: Innovation Ohio Says HJR 4 is Bad Idea


Innovation Ohio weighs in on proposal that could limit the citizen initiative process


COLUMBUS – With just one week left before the state legislature adjourns for the summer, the Ohio House is considering a resolution that could change the constitutional rules and limit the citizen initiative process. Innovation Ohio announces its opposition to House Joint Resolution 4 because of its overly broad language and the last minute nature of its potential passage.

“This language is so unbelievably broad that this resolution could weaken legitimate citizen initiatives instead of truly protecting against corporate monopolies,” said Innovation Ohio President Keary McCarthy. “Changing the constitutional rules with such broad language in the last legislative minute, makes this well-intentioned idea a very bad one.” 

The concept of this resolution was discussed amongst the members of the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Committee previously, but it was introduced as a joint resolution just seven days ago and has had only one committee hearing. HJR 4 is on an extraordinarily fast legislative track, with a possible vote by the Ohio House Government and Accountability Committee coming today and possible passage on the House floor tomorrow. Today is the only opportunity for public input before it potentially passes out of the Ohio House.

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 Media Contact: Erin Ryan, 440-382-2900

News Release: The School Funding Squeeze


Factors that squeeze the value of state aid to schools and what can be done to change it

COLUMBUS – Innovation Ohio, a progressive policy think tank, released an analysis that examines how over a decade of income tax cuts and increased funding to charter schools have squeezed school funding in Ohio. The report describes how the value of state aid to local schools has been diminished and what the state legislature can do right now to fix it.

“We must alleviate the school funding squeeze that has been created by years of perpetual tax cuts and careless charter school spending,” said Innovation Ohio President Keary McCarthy. “In addition to needed charter school reform, we should immediately invest in high-quality schools for our students, not more tax cuts that favor those at the top.”

Innovation Ohio Education Policy Fellow Stephen Dyer previewed this analysis before the Ohio House Finance, Primary and Secondary Education Subcommittee yesterday evening. Dyer urged the committee to “strengthen the proposed charter accountability measures it is considering and commit to a meaningful funding formula for Ohio’s schools.”

The Innovation Ohio analysis found that:

1. Over the last ten years, Ohio has been investing up to $3 billion annually in tax cuts for the rich instead of high-quality schools for our students.

2. Since 2011, state aid has dropped below 50 percent forcing local revenue now paying for the majority share of the public education funding mix.

3. When factoring in lost revenue to charter schools, education spending as a share of the budget drops to a historic low of 23 percent.

4. In the 2016-17 budget proposal, the percentage of local school districts that face funding cuts jumps from 51 to 67 percent when subtracting the amount of state aid that goes to charters.

5. In too many cases, state funding to charter schools reduces the amount of the total per-pupil funding available to students in local public schools, even with their local revenue.

The immediate fixes suggested by Innovation Ohio include using a portion of the revenue ($4.5 billion) for income tax cuts to instead increase state aid to schools by $1 billion; reducing the cost of new levies for local taxpayers by reinstating the 12.5 percent property tax rollback; base charter funding on the actual cost to educate a charter-enrolled student; and fund charters directly instead of driving that state aid through local schools districts.

Read the Innovation Ohio analysis: The School Funding Squeeze


Media Contact: Keary McCarthy, 614-425-9163

HB 5 Continues Assault on Local Services, Pushes Total Cut to Communities to $495 Million a Year

For Immediate Release: November 20, 2014
Contact: Keary McCarthy, (614) 425-9163

HB 5 Continues Assault on Local Services, Pushes Total Cut to Communities to $495 Million a Year
IO report shows cumulative impact of HB 5 and previous 4 years of cuts to communities

COLUMBUS – Innovation Ohio released a report today that shows the cumulative financial impact of House Bill 5, along with previous cuts to local communities passed in the last two state operating budgets.  The report estimates that passage of House Bill 5 alone would cost communities $82 million a year, and when combined with previous cuts, the total impact on local services approaches nearly half a billion dollars annually.

“Our state is only as strong as our schools and local communities,” said Innovation Ohio President Keary McCarthy. “Taken in context with the last four years of significant funding cuts to local communities, passage of House Bill 5 could have serious impacts on services that keep our streets safe and our communities strong.”

Over the last four years, the state has cut an estimated $413 million each year for Ohio’s cities and villages through reductions in Local Government Funding, reimbursement losses for TPP and KWH tax, and the elimination of the estate tax.  Combined with an estimated $82 million in annual revenue loss from House Bill 5, the total impact on municipal services is estimated at $495 annually or nearly $1 billion of a two-year budgetary period.

“Republican and Democratic leaders in the Dayton region stand united in our belief that continued cuts to local communities have seriously harmed our ability to provide essential services such as police and fire protection, road paving and infrastructure repair,” said Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley. “Loss of these services impact the quality of life for our constituents and the ability of our small businesses to thrive.”

The report shows the estimated impact of House Bill 5 for 187 municipalities that have provided impact assessments, along with the specific funding cuts from the estate tax elimination, cuts to the Local Government Fund, and TPP and KWH reimbursement losses. The report also shows these cumulative estimated losses as a percentage share of the municipal budget. For the cities of Dayton and Cincinnati, these cumulative losses represent nearly 10 percent of its overall budget.

“House bill 5 needs to be amended to stop cutting resources for local governments,” said Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley. “The death by a thousand cuts coming from Columbus must stop.”

For the cities that did not report estimated impacts from HB5, Innovation Ohio calculated the revenue impact per capita for the cities for which estimates are available to the population of the state’s remaining 429 communities that levy an income tax. Combined, we estimate the potential statewide impact of HB 5 on cities and villages that levy an income tax at over $82 million each year.

“The state legislature’s continued attempts to cut funding and hamstring communities is making it harder to keep our streets safe and our taxes low,” said Marion Mayor Scott Schertzer. “Passing House Bill 5 without making reasonable changes that would limit the financial impact for communities would be yet another hit that everyday Ohioans will undoubtedly feel.”

Read the report: “House Bill 5: Impact Analysis – New Charter Website Compares Charter And Public Schools

For Immediate Release: September 30, 2014
Contacts: Dale Butland (IO), 614-783-5833 & Michele Prater (OEA), 614-378-0469

“” – New Website Provides Detailed Comparison of Charter and Traditional Public Schools; Improves Data Transparency
OEA, Innovation Ohio Unveil New, Easy to Use Online Tool for Parents, Educators, Policymakers and Taxpayers

Columbus – The Ohio Education Association and Innovation Ohio today announced the launch of a new website for parents, taxpayers and educators that will allow detailed comparisons between charter schools and traditional public school districts. The new on-line tool – – not only provides access to the state’s most recent Report Card information, but improves transparency by aggregating this and other relevant data at a single, easy-to-use website. Previously, locating this data required visiting multiple sites and extracting the information from numerous and often confusing spreadsheets. At, visitors will be able to compare schools in a particular geographical area across a wide variety of indices, including State Report Card grades, the amount of state money the schools receive, the percentage spent on classroom instruction, and the average number of years of teacher experience.

screenshot [Read more…]

Labor Day Statement from Innovation Ohio President

For Immediate Release: August 29, 2014
Contact: Dale Butland, 614-783-5833

Labor Day Statement from Innovation Ohio President
Anti-labor policies, tax-shifting trend increases income inequality and threatens Ohio’s middle class, says McCarthy

COLUMBUS – In advance of the Labor Day weekend, Innovation Ohio President Keary McCarthy released the following statement:

“Labor Day is a celebration of the American labor movement and the workers who fought for it. Every year, we honor the contributions of labor unions because they built the greatest middle class the world had ever seen. But every year it also becomes increasingly difficult to think about the middle-class without considering the sobering fact that it’s disappearing. Growing income inequality is one of our nation’s and our state’s biggest challenges.

“Over the last several decades, the wealthiest Ohioans have seen their earnings grow by 70 percent while working- and middle-class families have seen their earnings decrease.  Nationally, as labor union participation has declined over the last fifty years, the gap between the rich and the poor has widened.

“Ohio’s elected leaders must make it a priority to reverse these trends. Stop making it harder for Ohioans to participate in labor unions. Stop the tax-shifting trend that benefits those at the very top at the expense of everyone else. Without pursuing these basic fixes to Ohio’s economy and a policy agenda that puts the middle class first, Ohio’s income inequality will grow and the promise of the American dream will continue to slip away.” [Read more…]

The Kasich Record: 5 School Funding Facts All Ohioans Need to Know

For Immediate Release: August 28, 2014
Contact: Dale Butland, 614-783-5833

The Kasich Record: 5 School Funding Facts All Ohioans Need to Know

Columbus — With a new school year now underway, Innovation Ohio today highlighted “five facts” it says all parents and taxpayers should know about education funding in the Buckeye state.  Documentation for all the facts below are available on the IO website.

Fact # 1:  Traditional public schools, which educate 90% of Ohio’s kids, now receive $515 million less state funding than before Gov. Kasich took office. The Governor and his allies have repeatedly blamed this shortfall on the “one-time stimulus money” Ohio received from the federal government during the recession, which they imply was “extra” money they had no duty to replace. In truth, federal law required that stimulus funds  be run through the states’ existing school funding formulas, and was intended to make up the difference between what states had been spending and what their lower tax revenues would  permit them to spend during the recession.  It was always anticipated that states would replace the federal money once their economies recovered.

Fact # 2: Ohio’s school funding system remains “unconstitutional” because of its over-reliance on property taxes. Although the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled four separate times that Ohio’s school funding system is unconstitutional, Gov. Kasich and his allies have not only refused to fix the problem, but their most recent state budget devotes, according to the non-partisan Ohio Legislative Service Commission, the smallest percentage of overall state spending to schools since FY 1997 — the year before the first Supreme Court ruling.

Fact # 3The cost of local school levies has jumped 34% under Gov. Kasich.  To offset state funding cuts, local taxpayers have been forced to pass levies raising 34% more new operating money than was required before Gov. Kasich took office.  And thanks to Gov. Kasich’s elimination of the 12.5% property tax roll-back, those levies have already cost local taxpayers $10 million more than they otherwise would have.

Fact # 4: Charter school funding has increased by 27% and charters now receive more state money per pupil than do traditional public schools .  While Gov. Kasich and his allies slashed state funding for traditional public schools, they simultaneously increased state funding to privately-run Charter schools by $193 million, even though many have performance and graduation rates that are worse than urban school districts.  In fact, nearly 1 out of every 4 state dollars paid to Charters since their inception have gone to poorly performing charters operated by David Brennan or William Lager who, together, have contributed over $5.4 million to Republican candidates and causes.

Fact # 5:  Private school vouchers have doubled under Kasich.  State funding for vouchers at private schools (over 90% of which are religiously affiliated) has risen from $99 million the year before Kasich took office to over $200 million this school year.  And under Kasich, the original rationale for vouchers (to allow desperately poor children to escape “failing” public schools in a few urban districts) has been turned on its head.  Today, middle class kids from districts rated “excellent” receive private school vouchers.   And since voucher money is deducted from the amount public school districts would otherwise receive, the end result is that taxpayers are now subsidizing religious and private school educations at the direct expense of the traditional public schools attended by their own children.

Said IO Communications Director Dale Butland:  “When it comes to schools, Gov. Kasich and his allies have flunked the test.  Traditional public schools are now receiving less money, and poorly performing charters are receiving more.  Local school levies have jumped dramatically, as have private school vouchers. And Ohio taxpayers are being forced to foot the bill for the entire fiasco.”

Kasich Recovery Yields Low-Wage Jobs

For Immediate Release: August 20, 2014
Contact: Dale Butland, 614-783-5833

IO: Kasich Recovery Yields Low-Wage Jobs
Think Tank Study Says High & Medium Wage Jobs Decrease; Newly Created Jobs “Don’t Pay Enough to Support a Family.”

Columbus — Innovation Ohio, a progressive think tank headquartered in Columbus, released a new study today which finds that for the first time since 2007, Ohio now has more low wage jobs than medium or high wage jobs.  Using Occupational Employment data from the U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the study also found that while 9 out of 10 Ohio jobs lost during the Great Recession paid medium or high wages, low-paying jobs account for virtually all Ohio job growth during the recovery.


  • Prior to the start of the recession in 2007, 33% of Ohio jobs paid more than $20 per hour, 39% paid between $13.40 and $19.99, and just 28% paid $7.00-$13.39 hourly.
  • At the end of 2013, low-wage positions had jumped to 36% of Ohio jobs, while medium-paying jobs fell to 34% and high-wage jobs dropped to 31%.
  • As a share of the state’s economy, high and medium wage jobs dropped from 72% in 2007 to just 64% in 2013.  Low wage jobs grew from 28% to 36% during that period.

Said IO President Keary McCarthy:

“This report makes clear that Gov. Kasich’s handling of Ohio’s economic recovery warrants serious scrutiny. Not only has the recovery from the great recession been slow and inconsistent, but for the first time since 2007 low-wage jobs now comprise the highest share of the job market.”

Added IO Communications Director Dale Butland:

“Last month, Ohio led the nation in job losses.  Ohio’s job creation rate ranks 41st and has lagged the national average for 20 straight months. Unlike the rest of America, Ohio is still 140,000 jobs short of where we were before the recession hit.  And if all this isn’t bad enough, today we learn that the few jobs Gov. Kasich has managed to create don’t pay a living wage or enough to sustain a family. Some miracle. Some recovery. “

Read the report.

IO Raises Concern About Cheating at Columbus Horizon school

For Immediate Release: July 29, 2014
Contact: Dale Butland, 614-783-5833

Is the Horizon Academy in Columbus Cheating?
Innovation Ohio Says Test Score Discrepancies Raise Red Flags

Columbus — Innovation Ohio, a progressive think tank headquartered in Columbus, released a study today that shows a large discrepancy between two sets of academic performance scores at the Horizon Science Academy Columbus (hereafter, “Horizon Columbus”).

The IO finding follow on the heels of recent news stories in which former students and parents allege that test and attendance scores were tampered with at the Horizon Academy in Dayton. As a result of those stories, IO looked at the four Horizon schools in Ohio that operate up to Grade 12 and compared the scores those students received on the state Performance Index with the scores those same students received on the ACT college entrance exam. Performance Index tests are administered by the schools themselves, while ACT tests are administered by an independent testing company. For most schools and school districts — including 3 of the 4 Horizon schools — ACT and state Performance Index scores are closely correlated. That is not the case at Horizon Columbus, however.

According to the latest State Report Card data, Horizon Columbus students scored 98.6 on the state Performance Index, slightly below the state public school district average of 98.9.  But on the ACT test, Horizon Columbus students had an average score of just 17, which put them in the 28th percentile of all students taking the ACT.  In other words, 72% of all ACT test-takers scored higher than Horizon Columbus students — and just 16 of Ohio’s 612 school districts had ACT scores that were the same or worse.  Yet Horizon Columbus students somehow managed to achieve a higher Performance Index score than 269 Ohio school districts.

The extent of the discrepancy at Horizon Columbus is dramatic.  In the 60 Ohio school districts that scored, like Horizon Columbus, between 98 and 99 on the Performance Index, the average ACT score was 21.1 — and none of those 60 districts had average ACT scores below 19, let alone the 17 scored by Horizon Columbus students.  Columbus City schools, for example, also had an average ACT score of 17.  But their Performance Index score, at the height of the data manipulation scandal, was 79.2 — far below Horizon Columbus’ score of 98.6.

Said IO Communications Director Dale Butland:

“Today’s report raises the possibility that the cheating and data manipulation alleged in Dayton may have occurred at Horizon’s Columbus campus too.

“While a discrepancy between ACT and Performance Index scores doesn’t prove the existence of cheating, it’s hard to fathom how the same students at a single school could have such wildly varying test performance scores. What makes it even more suspicious is that one test — the ACT — is independently administered, while state Performance Index tests are administered by schools themselves; in this case, by Horizon Columbus personnel. This could be especially significant in light of the story in last Sunday’s Dayton Daily News in which a former student claimed he was paid to alter Performance Index tests at Dayton’s Horizon Academy.

“Equally curious is why Horizon Columbus supporters feel impelled to falsify that school’s graduation results.  In a July 26 letter to the Columbus Dispatch, for example, one prominent Horizon Columbus supporter said the school’s graduation rate, like that of the Cleveland Horizon school, is “typically over 90%.”  In fact, Horizon Columbus received a graduation grade of “F” on the latest State Report Card.  The letter also claimed that Horizon Columbus seniors have such “high GPAs and ACT scores” that they are “sought out by some of the nation’s finest colleges and universities, including the University of Chicago, Notre Dame and MIT.” But according to the websites of those three universities, the median ACT scores for admitted students is 33-35, roughly twice as high as Columbus Horizon’s average score of 17.

“Last week, Auditor of State Dave Yost said he would restrict his investigation to the Horizon school in Dayton. Today, Innovation Ohio calls on Auditor Yost to expand that investigation to include Horizon Columbus as well. When it came to exposing data manipulation in Columbus city schools, Mr. Yost was a tiger. If similar wrong-doing has occurred at charter schools like Horizon Columbus, we hope he will not be a pussy cat. “

Read the analysis: “More on the Horizon”

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. “