Week in Review - 02/09/2018

Week in Review - 02/09/2018

FY18-19 BUDGET

While Office of Budget and Management (OBM) spokesman John Charlton attributed the January spike in revenue for the state to the federal tax reform passed in December, he cautioned that that "overage now will be balanced by refunds that are greater than we expected or return payments in April and May that are less than we expected." He also noted that OBM believes "taxpayers may have filed quarterly estimated payments early," thus affecting January's totals. Specifically, the state saw a $204.0 million increase in revenue for the month over and above estimates for January 2018. That was almost exclusively driven by a nearly $222.6 million or 24.9 percent increase over estimates for the personal income tax.


EDUCATION

Ohio's general education school voucher program has started accepting applications and will do so through April. The Feb. 1-April 30 window allows families to apply for EdChoice and the Cleveland Scholarship vouchers to attend participating private schools. Ohio's Autism Scholarship and Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship programs offer rolling admissions throughout the year.


Though participation is up 10 percent in the past few years, summer feeding programs still aren't reaching all the families in need, says the Ohio Department of Education, which is looking for more organizations willing to host free meals for students.


The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) opened the application period this week for Community Connectors, the mentorship program created by the Kasich administration. In this fourth round of grants, $8 million is available to be distributed in grant amounts of up to $150,000 per project. The state provides a $3 match for every $1 provided by local applicants.


EMPLOYMENT/UNEMPLOYMENT

Nonfarm payroll employment went up by 200,000 jobs in January, according to new figures released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Friday, and the national unemployment rate remained at 4.1 percent for the fourth consecutive month. BLS said the number of unemployed persons was 6.7 million for January and changed little over the month. Among major groups, the unemployment rate for blacks increased to 7.7 percent and edged down for whites to 3.5 percent. The unemployment rates for adult men (3.9 percent), adult women (3.6 percent), teenagers (13.9 percent), Asians (3.0 percent) and Hispanics (5.0 percent) showed little change.


GAMING/GAMBLING

Ohio's casinos saw a drop in revenues in January, according to new figures released Wednesday, while the seven racinos saw an increase over the same period last year. The Ohio Casino Control Commission said the four casinos earned $63 million in January, down from nearly $64 million in January 2017 and down from $70.1 million in December.


REDISTRICTING/REAPPORTIONMENT

After weeks of negotiations, state legislators and members of the Fair Districts=Fair Elections Coalition hammered out a compromise plan to reform the congressional redistricting process over the weekend. After the Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee unanimously approved the substitute version of SJR5 (Huffman) Monday afternoon, the full Senate voted 31-0 Monday night to advance the measure to the House where on Tuesday, the resolution cleared the House Rules and Reference Committee and was passed by the full House 82-10. The issue will now appear on the May ballot.


UNIONS

Leaders and members of the country's four largest public sector unions gathered Wednesday to preview a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case and their plans to rally workers ahead of oral arguments on the lawsuit. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Monday, Feb. 26 in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, a case in which justices will consider whether to reverse the court's 1977 ruling in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, which held it's constitutional to require workers to pay dues to unions they don't belong to but that represent employees at their public sector workplace.