Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Alternative Cuts for Ohio

Hi all,
One of my friends pointed out today that we should additionally suggest areas in which the Ohio budget can be balanced without cutting funding for libraries. I went through state codes line by line, and without even getting a quarter of the way through, here's what I found has been added and changed to create other costs:
  • No prison costs have been cut, including for all outside contractors (i.e. phone service, uniforms...)
  • Cities and towns are well-funded by state monies; no budget cuts here. In fact, the state is adding to the money for individual municipalities, deciding this year that they are going to purchase all voting machines and materials.
  • They are upping the amount of grants/ loans/ stipends for businesses to hire those on welfare by a significant margin. This is regardless of whether the business can support them as a full-time employee and the person in question wants access to both sources of income.
  • The state is creating a government assistance program for those who export goods of any type.
  • There is now a budget for building a new arena of some type in an attempt to get a Superbowl or some other major sporting event to come to Ohio.
  • The tax credits per outside-Ohio investor has been upped by 15 million, making their tax credits total up to $145 million.
  • A business who hires almost any new employee now is eligible for a 75% tax break on each new employee's salary. This isn't in the "creating a job" catagory - just for hiring someone. This is up to seven years per employee, and each business can get a credit of 13 million in 2010, 26 million in 2011, etc.
  • Movies who film in Ohio have their tax credit raised to 60%, up to twenty million per year and $300 million in all. In this clause, there are no stipulations about using Ohio workers - the assumption is that the film's use of hotels and restaurants will be worth it.
  • As of this year, every state agency will have its own equal opportunity officer.
  • There is a new administrative branch on the state personnel board; number of salaries added is not stated.
  • State employees with paid leave are also eligible for a bonus equal to almost a week's full wages.
  • State employees' paid leave time has increased dramatically, and even those who aren't technically able to have injury leave can take it paid.
  • There will be a moratorium on the accrual of sick & personal leave for state employees, but not until 2011.
  • The only pay cut that the top-level state employees (i.e. Auditor) will have is that they won't get holiday pay.
  • The state will now be keeping the flexible spending funds of its workers - workers still have the funds, obviously, but the state gets the interest.
  • There are nine more full boards being created this year to oversee a hodge-podge of payrolls for all other state agencies (not including those appearing separately in my list).
  • There will be a new board of seven people created this year to oversee "Ohio venture capital", and the program administrator for this gets a pro rata salary for the investments that pan out - no word on that percentage.
  • A micro lending fund is being established for small businesses.
  • Those who are in the age bracket for Medicaid (whether or not they use it) will be able to get medication costs paid by the state if they have an income of up to 300% of the poverty line.
  • Many judges will now be exempt from taxes.
  • There will now be a sustainable agriculture board - no news about how many people, and they can come up with ideas without a funding limit and then the agriculture branch pays for the implementation.
I am by no means saying that these things are not important (at least, in many cases). However, when the legislature is whining about balancing a budget, maybe creating a bunch of new advisory boards and giving more perks to big businesses isn't the best idea. I know I'm calling my representatives with some of these tidbits tomorrow!

Thanks all!