Policy Matters Ohio

A hearing in Clark County Tuesday brought state legislators and policy advocates together to strategize on addressing Ohio's unemployment debt.
Wayne Baker / WYSO

Ohio legislators are trying to figure out how to pay down almost $1.4 billion in debt to the federal government for the state's unemployment fund. Ohio's Unemployment Compensation Study Committee held a hearing in Clark County Tuesday to address concerns about the fund. 

The state borrowed lots of money from the federal government during the Great Recession to make up for shortfalls in its unemployment fund. 

This Labor Day, there are a record low number of Ohioans in the labor force—fewer than there have been since October 1978. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports just 59 percent of Americans 16 and over have declared that they are part of the labor force; in Ohio, that figure is just under 63 percent, a 34-year low. That’s not the only thing that has the progressives at Policy Matters Ohio worried. Amy Hanauer says the group’s annual Labor Day report also shows the state lost more than 2.3 percent of its jobs since 2005, while the country added 3.8 percent in that same period.

Chris Potter / Flickr Creative Commons

Ohio’s looking at an $800 million surplus at the end of its fiscal year, and Republican Governor John Kasich has been touting $400 million in tax cuts in the latest mid-term budget, known as the mid-biennium review.

Ellen Belcher, who's filling in for Emily McCord, interviews Wendy Patton of Policy Matters Ohio about a recent survey that the liberal-leaning think tank did of Ohio's schools. The state's 600-plus school districts have been hit with a two-year $1.8 billion cut in funding. That means their state aid has dropped to 2003 levels. Policy Matters estimates that Ohio has 2,500 fewer teachers in the classroom as a result. Districts are reluctant to ask for more local money from voters and instead are cutting their budgets in unprecedented ways.