July 29, 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

IO ASSAILS “HOBBY LOBBY” DECISION
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. “

Local Taxes Up 34% Under Kasich

For Immediate Release: April 22, 2014
Contact: Dale Butland, 614-783-5833

Local Taxes Up 34% Under Kasich
Budget Cuts Force Taxpayers to Pass $700m in New Levies;
IO Says Kasich Playing “Shell Game” On Taxes

Columbus – Innovation Ohio, a progressive think tank headquartered in Columbus, released a new analysis today showing that $670 million in new school operating levies have been passed by Ohio taxpayers between May, 2011 and May, 2014.  The local tax hikes represent a 34% increase over the corresponding 3 year period prior to Kasich’s governorship (May, 2007 – May, 2010.) * Read the analysis here.

According to the IO analysis, there has also been a 13% increase in the number of operating levies for schools on local ballots (with a total value of nearly $1.7 billion) over the past three years. And the think tank calculates that the levies which passed are costing taxpayers nearly $11 million more than they would have previously — thanks to last year’s repeal of the so-called “property tax roll-back” in which the state picked up 12.5% of the cost of local levies. The ballooning number of levies — and their increased cost — are both directly attributable to policies pursued by the Kasich administration and its legislative allies.

Said IO Communications Director Dale Butland: “Like Christian Bale and Amy Adams in American Hustle – or Paul Newman and Robert Redford before them in the Oscar-winning movie, The Sting – Gov. Kasich and his allies have mastered ‘The Big Con.’ They cast themselves in the roles of ‘budget and tax cutters.’ But in reality, their budget cuts have only put taxpayers on the hook for $700 million in higher local taxes — and left school officials holding the bag and struggling to explain why these tax hikes are necessary. “

Meanwhile, Kasich’s state income tax cuts have disproportionately benefited the wealthiest Ohioans who earn over $300,000 per year. And how did the Governor pay for this give-away to the rich? By repealing the property tax roll-back — which sticks local taxpayers with an even bigger bill.

“Worse yet, the con continues. Right now, higher than projected revenues and lower than projected expenditures have given Ohio a surplus of over $1 billion. But instead of using this money to restore the funds they slashed from schools and local governments, Kasich and his allies are pushing for even more income tax cuts that will primarily benefit the wealthy.

“Ohioans aren’t stupid. They know a shell game when they see one. And sooner or later, they’re going to hold the con men accountable.”

* Operational levies differ from capital improvement levies and bond issues — and the money raised by each can only be spent on items germane to that type of levy. In other words, the money raised through a school operations levy cannot be spent on capital improvements, and vice versa. This is why new operating levies are directly linked to diminished state support for school and local government operations, while capital levies and bond issues generally are not. Nevertheless, the Kasich administration has sought to hide the impact of its budget cuts by disingenuously lumping all 3 levy types together — and then triumphantly proclaiming there has been “no increase” in the overall number of levies on local ballots and, therefore, “no impact” from their budget cuts to schools and local governments. For the reasons outlined above, their argument is fundamentally dishonest.

IO: Charter School Funding Short-Changes Traditional Public School Students By 6.6%

For Immediate Release: April 22, 2014
Contact: Dale Butland, 614-783-5833

IO: Charter School Funding Short-Changes Traditional Public School Students By 6.6%
93% of Ohio Students Get Less Money than State Says They Need;
Study Also Finds Majority of Charter Transfer Students Leave Districts With Higher Performance Scores

Columbus — Using data provided by the Ohio Department of Education, Innovation Ohio released a study today that raises a host of questions concerning the funding and operation of charter schools in Ohio, especially those run by for-profit operators.  Innovation Ohio is a progressive think tank headquartered in Columbus. Read the report here.

The study’s principal findings are:

  • The “flawed” manner in which charter schools are funded has resulted in traditional school students receiving, on average, 6.6% less state funding this year than the Ohio Department of Education says they need;
  • A number of high-performing suburban school districts are now among the biggest per-pupil funding losers;
  • Well over half of all state money sent to charters goes to schools that perform worse than traditional public schools on either or both of the state’s two performance measurements (the Report Card and the Performance Index);
  • 53% of children transferring into charter schools are leaving districts whose performance is better than the charters into which they are going;
  • On average, Ohio charters spend nearly double the amount spent by traditional public schools on non-instructional administrative costs (24% vs. 13%)

Said Innovation Ohio President Janetta King:

“From the way they’re funded to the way they perform, Ohio’s charter schools are different from those in other states. Until Ohio’s funding mechanism is fixed, the 93% of children who stay in traditional public schools will continue to be penalized — and cheated out of receiving the level of state funding that even the Ohio Department of Education says they need. Until there is true accountability for charters, too many students and their parents will continue to be victimized.

“While a handful of Ohio charters do an excellent job, the vast majority do not. And that is why  legislators and other state officials must stop using “school choice” as a mindlessly repeated mantra divorced from real world consequences. All public schools and administrators should be held to the same level of accountability, regardless of whether their buildings are called ‘charter’ or ‘traditional.’ And students who choose to say in traditional public schools should not suffer inadequate funding simply because others made a different choice.

‘Finally — and especially because the majority of students transferring into charter schools are leaving districts that actually perform better – it is vital that parents be provided with accurate and up-to-date information concerning comparative academic performance. Surely the state has no interest in promoting “choices” which result in worse poorer academic outcomes and fewer educational opportunities for our young people.”

Will $2.7 Million in Campaign Contributions Mean Higher Electric Bills for Consumers?

For Immediate Release: December 3, 2013
Contact: Dale Butland, 614-783-5833

Will $2.7 Million in Campaign Contributions Mean Higher Electric Bills for Consumers?
Columbus — Innovation Ohio, a progressive think tank headquartered in Columbus, released a study today showing that Ohio’s four electric utility companies have made political campaign contributions totaling nearly $2.7 million since May, 2008, most of which went to Republican legislators and officeholders who are strategically positioned to pass a bill giving the companies a nearly $4 billion windfall at the expense of Ohio consumers.

Sponsored by Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), SB 58 would gut Ohio’s existing energy efficiency and renewable energy laws, and could receive a Senate vote as early as tomorrow. It is opposed by a broad coalition of business, environmental and consumer groups, including the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association (OMA), the Ohio AARP, and the Ohio Office of Consumers’ Counsel.

The OMA characterizes the bill as a “huge giveaway” to electric utilities — which a study from Ohio State University estimates would be nearly $4 billion over the next 12 years. The OSU study also projects that nearly 6,500 fewer Ohio jobs would be created if SB 58 is enacted. Meanwhile, the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel estimates that passage of SB 58 “could cause “4 million Ohio households to pay an additional $528 for their electric bills.”

According to the IO analysis:

  • From May, 2008 through June, 2013, Ohio’s four electric utilities (First Energy, AEP, Duke Energy and Dayton Power & Light) contributed nearly $2.7 million to political parties, office-holders and candidates who either play a role in regulating the energy industry or who have a leadership role in deciding what legislation receives a vote in the General Assembly. Over half of that amount —$1.37 million — went to individuals who are current members of the state House and Senate.
  • The overwhelming majority of these contributions (81%) went to Republicans, who received over $1.1 million of the $1.37 million total given to lawmakers.
  • First Energy of Akron — widely considered to be the SB 58′s main champion — was the largest single corporate contributor, accounting for nearly $700,000 in campaign contributions to current legislators.
  • Because campaign contributions given or received after June 30 will not be reported until January 31, 2014, the total amount given by the utility industry is likely to be far higher than this Report suggests. Since July 1, at least 127 additional fundraisers have been held by current members of the General Assembly. Donors, recipients, and dollar amounts raised are unknown.

Said IO President Janetta King: “Nobody wants to believe Ohio legislators can be bought. Nobody wants to think the Ohio General Assembly would put the interests of utility companies over the interests of consumers. And certainly no one wants to contemplate losing 6,500 jobs at a time when Ohio ranks a dismal 44th in the nation in new job creation. But we’ll find out when Senate Bill 58 comes up for a vote.

“It defies belief that First Energy and the other utilities are handing out millions in campaign contributions simply to support ‘good government.’ If that were the goal, they wouldn’t be concentrating their largesse on the legislators who are best positioned to pass a law that will put an extra $4 billion in their corporate pockets.

“The bottom line is that if the utilities win, Ohio consumers lose.

“So the question is simple: whose side is the General Assembly on? Will they stand up for the people they were elected to represent? Or will they roll over for the utilities that are filling their campaign coffers?”

View the report: Rate of Return: What Will Ohio’s Utilities Get for Campaign Cash?

IO: Sen. Widener Wrong; $400 Million Would Have Huge Impact on Ohio Schools

For Immediate Release: November 13, 2013
Contact: Dale Butland, 614-783-5833

IO: Sen. Widener Wrong; $400 Million Would Have Huge Impact on Ohio Schools

Columbus — Innovation Ohio, a progressive think tank headquartered in Columbus, released a new study today which shows that an extra $400 million in state funding would have a dramatic impact on Ohio schools and education programs. The report can be accessed here.

$400 million is the estimated savings Ohio will realize from Medicaid expansion; the General Assembly is now debating how the money should be spent. IO’s study directly contradicts a recent claim by state Sen. Chris Widener (R-Springfield) that $400 million would have a “minimal impact” on schools —and should instead be used to pay for another state income tax cut. IO found that the impact on schools would be both “profound and dramatic.”

Joining IO and making remarks at today’s news conference were Sam Reynolds, Superintendent of Manchester Local Schools near Akron, and Becky Higgins, President of the Ohio Education

Among the Report’s findings:

  • $400 million is more than what the state spends on K-3 Literacy (the “Third-Grade Reading Guarantee”), Gifted Education, Career Tech Education, Limited English Proficiency Education and half of the state’s six Special Education categories combined;
  • $400 million exceeds the entire amounts currently spent on both economically disadvantaged aid and school transportation (busing);
  • If the $400 million was divided up among the state’s 613 school districts, the impact would be equally profound. The Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo city school districts, for example, would receive $25 million, $15 million and nearly $13 million, respectively;
  • $400 million could also mean dramatic property tax relief for many school districts, especially those that are smaller, rural or have low property values. Youngstown schools, for example, would receive the equivalent of a 9.75 millage reduction, while Lima city schools’ reduction would be 6.8 mills.

Said IO Communications Director Dale Butland:

“It would be a shame if the $400 million our state saves from Medicaid expansion was diverted into another income tax cut favoring the wealthiest Ohioans. One study found it would mean giving the richest 1% an average annual tax cut of over $1,400 –and that’s on top of the more than $6,000 they’re getting from the tax cut included in the state budget passed in July. Meanwhile, middle income taxpayers earning up to $54,000 would, on average, get a total tax cut of less than $40 from the two tax cuts put together.

“To their credit, some legislators have publicly indicated that they’re cool to the idea of another tax cut, especially when Ohioans have so many other unmet needs. So let’s have a reasoned conversation. As the 30% increase in ‘new money’ school operating levies show, our schools have real needs. So do our local governments. And certainly our state has other unmet needs as well. So instead of again lining the pockets of millionaires and billionaires with yet another tax cut, let’s use this $400 million in Medicaid savings to bring the greatest good to the greatest number of Ohioans.

“After all, middle class Ohioans aren’t stupid. They know an income tax cut of 40 bucks means little when it’s more than wiped out by higher local taxes for schools, police and fire protection. It’s long past time to end this shell game. Will the legislature listen? That’s the $400 million question.”

Read the report: “The Impact of $400 Million on Ohio Schools

School levies up nearly 30% under Kasich

For Immediate Release: October 22, 2013
Contact: Dale Butland, 614-783-5833

 

SCHOOL LEVIES UP NEARLY 30% UNDER KASICH 
Think tank says budget cuts responsible

Columbus — Innovation Ohio, a progressive think tank headquartered in Columbus, today released a new analysis of school funding levies.  The analysis shows:

  • 72 new operating levies raising $260 million will be on local ballots in November;
  • This brings the total number of new “operating money” requests between May of 2011 and November of 2013 to 475, and the total amount requested to $1.59 billion;
  • Both figures (number of levies and amounts requested) are significantly higher than those occurring before Gov. Kasich took office.  Compared to May, 2007 through November, 2009, under Kasich there have been 27.7% more requests (up from 372) for 39.1% more money (up from $1.15 billion) on Ohio ballots.

Said IO President Janetta King:

“This analysis is proof positive that the school funding cuts enacted by Gov. Kasich and his legislative allies have simply shifted the burden to local taxpayers.  Until now, the Administration has claimed that state funding cuts haven’t had an impact on local schools or local taxpayers.  And they’ve preposterously asserted that despite their cuts,  the number of new money levies for operations haven’t risen since they took office.

“Even now, we fully expect that they will try to confuse the issue by lumping school construction levies in with school operating levies and claim that the number of levies has held constant.  But as Charlie Wilson, President of the Ohio School Boards Association, says:

‘….if you are trying to measure the impact of state funding cuts on the (schools’) main operating budget, Innovation Ohio’s measurement is better because it effectively measures the local operational impact of cuts made in the state’s operating budget.’ (emphases in the original)

“In short, the Kasich administration and its allies have played a giant shell game.  They’ve cut school funding to pay for income tax cuts that mostly benefit the wealthiest Ohioans.  This, of course, has only pushed the need for tax increases down to the local level where middle and low income Ohioans are being asked to hike their own property taxes in order to make up the shortfall.”

Read the analysis and view the list of November levies.

IOEF Analysis: Ohio Job Growth Stalling

For Immediate Release: August 1, 2013
Contact: Dale Butland, 614-783-5833

OHIO JOB GROWTH STALLING
IO Analysis Shows No “Ohio Miracle”; State Ranks 47th In Nation Just 16,000 New Jobs Created in Past Year

Columbus — The Innovation Ohio Education Fund (IOEF) today released an analysis showing that Ohio job growth has stalled over the past year, with just 16,000 new jobs created between June, 2012 and June, 2013.  Ohio’s job performance over the year was 82% lower than the national average, and the state now ranks 47th in the nation.  Only Maine, Wyoming and Alaska have poorer yearly growth rates than Ohio’s 0.309%.  Read the analysis here.

The data used by the IOEF was generated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and tracks seasonally-adjusted non-farm employment in all 50 states.

When BLS issued its monthly jobs report last month, many Ohio media outlets focused only on Ohio’s dismal June numbers, which showed a loss of 12,500 jobs — the second worst performance in the country next to Tennessee.

But because monthly jobs numbers fluctuate so wildly (Ohio had a terrible June, a good May and a horrible March), IO decided to look beyond the monthly numbers and dig deeper into BLS data in order to examine the state’s performance over time.

Said Innovation Ohio Communications Director Dale Butland:

“Gov. Kasich and his allies continue to credit their own budget and economic policies for what the Governor calls an ‘Ohio miracle.’  But objective data from the non-partisan BLS paints a decidedly different picture.   Ohio’s job growth is not just stagnant; over the past year it’s fallen far behind that of most other states.  Indeed, Ohio now ranks 47th in the country.

“What makes Ohio’s recent performance especially troubling is its precipitous drop from the year before.  From June, 2011 to June, 2012, the state’s job growth rate was 2.2%.  Now it’s just 0.309% — or more than 7 times smaller.

“All of this raises a fundamental question about the wisdom of Gov. Kasich’s tax and budget policies.  Of the 139,000 jobs created in Ohio since Kasich became Governor, 123,000 came between January of 2011 and June of 2012; in other words, during his first 18 months in office.  Just 16,000 jobs have been created since then.

“Gov. Kasich’s first budget — along with its accompanying tax policies — were not signed into law until June of 2011.  JobsOhio didn’t begin operating until July of that year.  So it’s difficult to see how the Governor can plausibly credit his policies for producing even the 123,000 jobs that were created during the earliest months of his governorship.

“Many observers — including Innovation Ohio and several major newspapers — have long argued that tax cuts which disproportionately benefit the wealthy, coupled with huge budget cuts for schools and local governments, is not a recipe for long-term economic success.

“In light of the evidence, we hope Gov. Kasich and his legislative allies will consider changing course.  In the meantime, it’s clear that Gov. Kasich’s claims of an ‘Ohio Miracle’ are — like  premature reports of Mark Twain’s death — greatly exaggerated.”

News Release: IO: GOP Budgets Help Private & Charter Schools at the Expense of Public Schools

For Immediate Release: June 24, 2013
Contact: Dale Butland, 614-783-5833

IO: GOP Budgets Help Private & Charter Schools at the Expense of Public Schools

Columbus: Innovation Ohio, a progressive think tank headquartered in Columbus, released a report today which concludes that all three Republican budget proposals for FY 2014-15 (which are awaiting reconciliation in a Senate/House Conference Committee) “continue the GOP’s relentless assault on traditional public schools while simultaneously advancing the interests of private schools and for-profit charter school operators, many of whom double as major Republican campaign donors.”

The IO report, entitled “Ohio School Choice: The Real Winners in HB 59,” focuses especially on the Senate-passed version of the budget since Senate President Keith Faber has repeatedly claimed that the Senate plan contains “historic” funding increases for traditional public schools.

According to the IO report:

  • Contrary to Faber’s claims, the Senate-passed budget neither makes up the $1.8 billion cut from schools in the last biennial budget nor restores constitutionality to the state’s school funding system.  Roughly 75% of Ohio’s school districts would receive less money than they did in the 2010-11 budget and about 25% would get less than they did in the 2012-13 budget.  In fact, when transportation money is excluded, the Senate’s proposed budget actually provides $80 million less funding than did the Governor’s proposal (the House budget provides $200 million less).  The $1.8 billion cut from schools since 2010-11 has led to teacher lay-offs, reduced academic course offerings, higher sports and extracurricular participation fees, and an unprecedented $1.3 billion in “new money” operating levies on local ballots since Kasich took office.  (Note: just after the IO Report was completed, the Ohio House and Senate Budget Conference Committee announced that under the new biennial budget, the state will no longer reimburse school districts for 12.5% of new property tax increases. The elimination of this reimbursement —in effect since 1971 —will make passage of future levies even more difficult which, in turn, will make it harder for school districts to offset state budget cuts through the passage of local levies).    
  • Meanwhile, all three Republican budgets continue to pour taxpayer money into poorly performing and highly inefficient charter schools where administrative costs are out of control.  While the average traditional public school building spends less than 6% of its money on administration, the average charter spends over 28% —and the worst performing charters spend nearly 40%.  Yet under the Senate proposal, charters would receive $57 million more from the state than in 2011-12, and the per pupil funding amount would jump from $7,141 to $7,475, more than at any time in the 15-year history of Ohio charter schools. To make matters worse, nearly every dollar charters receive from the state is deducted from the amounts allocated to public school districts, thus exacerbating the fiscal problems of those districts.  
  • Especially outrageous are the increased millions of dollars that would go to for-profit charter schools operated by people like David Brennan and William Lager, who contribute generously to Republican candidates and office-holders.  Brennan and his wife, for example have made $527,000 in campaign contributions, while Lager has forked over $455,000 in political donations.  Lager and the Brennans are among the top contributors to Gov. Kasich, House Speaker Batchelder and Senate President Faber.  Together, their schools receive a whopping 19% of all state money going to charters.    
  • The Senate bill also makes it harder to close failing charters –and provides multiple new exemptions for charters from the accountability standards applied to traditional public schools.  Yet while 68% of school district buildings rate “A” or “A+” on the state’s most recent local Report Cards, only 10% of charters achieve that rating —and 70% are expected to receive a grade of “F” on next year’s new Report Cards.
  • At the same time, all three Republican budget proposals dramatically expand private school vouchers.  Under the Senate plan, families earning up to $94,000 per year (Ohio’s average annual family income is just over $40,000) would be eligible for vouchers, or roughly 80% of all Ohio school children.  Even students currently attending public schools rated “excellent” would qualify —as would children already attending private and religiously affiliated schools.  In short, the purpose of vouchers would no longer be to liberate “poor children trapped in failing public schools”, but to subsidize private (and, often, religious) educations for some of the state’s most economically comfortable families.

Said IO President Janetta King:

“Since the day John Kasich took office, conservatives have waged war on public education.  Their budgets underfund traditional schools, overfund charter schools, and shamelessly subsidize private schools with public money.

“And their hypocritical calls for ‘accountability’ start and stop at the doors of traditional public schools. For charters, standards often give way to exemptions —and big campaign donors know that their poorly performing schools won’t close as long as the money spigot stays open.

“Most disgraceful of all is how conservatives are subsidizing private schools, and too often, religious instruction, with taxpayer dollars.  Vouchers are no longer narrowly designed to ‘help poor kids escape failing schools.’  Now they’re designed to help wealthy and upper middle class families pay tuition at the private schools their children already attend.

“What’s happening to traditional public schools in Ohio is short-sighted, offensive and wrong.   Republicans are slowly but surely dismantling our system of public education, and they’re doing it solely for ideological and political reasons.  This assault must stop before it’s too late.”

Download the report.

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Kasich Cuts Mean $1.3 Billion in New School Levies Since May, 2011

For Immediate Release: April 25, 2013
Contact: Dale Butland, 614-783-5833

 

62 “NEW MONEY” SCHOOL LEVIES ON MAY BALLOT
Kasich Budget Cuts Cause $1.3 Billion in School Levies Since May, 2011

Columbus — Innovation Ohio, a progressive think tank headquartered in Columbus, released a spreadsheet today showing that voters in 62 different school districts will be asked to approve “new money” school funding levies next month. If approved, the levies — none of which is for replacement, renewal or construction — will raise $147 million.

As a direct result of the $1.8 billion in school funding cuts approved by Gov. Kasich and the Republican-controlled Ohio legislature, local taxpayers have been asked to approve 393 school levies representing $1.34 billion in new operating money since May, 2011. Levies representing $492 million in new operating funds have passed.

Said IO President Janetta King:

“Given the nearly $2 billion in education funds that Gov. Kasich and his allies slashed from our schools, is anyone really surprised that local levies are growing like mushrooms?

“In district after district, school boards, superintendents and other administrators have done everything they can to cope with the cuts. They’ve laid off teachers, frozen wages, increased class sizes, reduced academic course offerings, increased sports participation fees, consolidated purchasing and taken dozens of other steps to save money. But now they have no alternative but to ask taxpayers for help.

“Innovation Ohio has warned about this from the very beginning. By cutting taxes primarily for the wealthy at the state level, Gov. Kasich and the Republican-controlled legislature have merely pushed the need for tax increases down to the local level.

But Ohioans aren’t stupid. They know a shell game when they see one. They know we can’t continue to fund our schools and local governments through an endless parade of local levies. And sooner or later, they’re going to hold Gov. Kasich and his allies accountable.”