Week in Review - 05/11/2018

Week in Review - 05/11/2018

FY18-19 BUDGET

The end of the tax filing season saw Ohio income taxes bring in almost $100 million more than forecast, and preliminary April figures also show stronger sales tax collection as well, the Office of Budget and Management (OBM) said Friday. Tax receipts for April were $2.05 billion, $130.8 million or 6.8 percent ahead of the expected revenue of $1.92 billion.


BUSINESS/CORPORATE

The state business environment reflects "positive economic growth and high optimism," a recent survey by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce found, but business leaders were significantly concerned about the political environment. The chamber said Monday that it was the first time the state's political environment was a "top concern" and nowhere was that felt more than in Central Ohio. While the cost of health care was the number one concern for all regions, Central Ohio was the only one to name politics number two.


EDUCATION

Auditor Dave Yost's office is filing subpoenas to obtain data from Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) computers and servers before they're sold at auction, but a Franklin County judge said the resulting information will be put under protective order to await arguments on whether any of it is privileged or protected. How much evidence is available on those computers is moot, however, as one attorney said Friday they've largely been wiped of data.


On Tuesday, Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein Tuesday filed a motion to intervene in the upcoming auction of computers previously owned by the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT). Klein said that his office remains concerned that data could be contained on computers that could be pertinent to potential investigations of criminal activity at the Columbus-based online charter school.


Ohio school districts saw a large majority of funding issues on the Tuesday ballot pass, though the success rate was slightly lower than in the last primary election. Voters approved 63 of 92 issues, a 68 percent rate of passage, compared to 73 percent passage for issues on the May 2017 primary ballot, according to preliminary results compiled by the Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA). Precisely half of new levies -- 23 of 46 -- were approved by voters. For renewals, the passage rate was 87 percent, with 40 of 46 garnering approval.


In announcing the observation of Teacher Appreciation Week May 7-11, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) urged folks to "thank Ohio's remarkable educators by sharing a story of a teacher or teacher team" using #OhioLovesTeachers on Twitter and Instagram.


Lawmakers should consider new rules for funding, enrollment, and oversight of online charter schools, a Fordham Institute official wrote Monday by citing the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) saga.


Auditor of State Dave Yost announced on Thursday that he's made referrals to law enforcement agencies for possible criminal prosecution following the release of his office's annual audit of the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT). It showed the online charter school willfully misrepresented student attendance and engagement hours and misspent public funds on political television ads targeting the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) and state officials, said Yost.


ELECTIONS 2018

More Ohioans voted early in the 2018 primary election than in 2014, the last statewide election, according to the final tally released on Monday by Secretary of State Jon Husted. A total of 300,765 absentee ballots were requested by 2 p.m. on Monday, and 260,443 were cast. At the same point during absentee voting in 2014, nearly 254,000 absentee ballots had been requested and 202,000 ballots were cast. According to Husted, 205,419 of the 300,765 requested absentee ballots were requested by mail, and 95,346 were requested in person. Of the 260,443 ballots cast, 165,097 were cast by mail.


EMPLOYMENT/UNEMPLOYMENT

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Friday reported that, in April, the national unemployment rate edged down to 3.9 percent, following six months at 4.1 percent. The number of unemployed persons, at 6.3 million, also edged down over the month.


GAMING/GAMBLING

Ohio's casino and racino revenues were back down in April after record revenues in March, but were consistent with statewide revenues in 2017, according to figures released Monday.