Here's something Gov. John Kasich and Republican state legislators appear to have decided Ohio can't afford: taking $176 million
in federal money to expand its unemployment insurance program. Monday was the deadline
to apply for the funding, but the state has not taken action to make the needed changes:
So far, 40 states have changed their unemployment compensation systems to receive the federal money, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Of those, Ohio and five others applied for only one-third of their share of the $7 billion. Ohio received its third — $88.2 million — after changing how it calculates benefits by incorporating a worker’s most recent earnings.
To receive the remaining two-thirds, the state would have to choose two options from among several: Allow people seeking part-time work to qualify for benefits, extend benefits to those in approved job training programs, increase the allowance for dependents, and provide benefits to people who leave work for certain family reasons, such as domestic violence or transfer of a spouse.
Kasich's "reasoning" is that Ohio would be making a permanent change to its unemployment eligibility for a one-time payment; an implicit part of that reasoning, of course, is that people who leave work because of domestic violence or who are in job training programs don't deserve unemployment benefits.
While Kasich feels that Ohio can't afford to expand its unemployment programs at a time when the state's unemployment rate is 9 percent, here are a few things (PDF) he and his legislative allies have felt the state could afford:
More than a dozen tax breaks were authorized, expanded or extended in House Bill 153. The final implementation of a multi-year income tax cut that favors the wealthy will be completed in this budget at a cost of $800 million. A $100 million investors’ tax credit (scheduled to start in the next biennium) was inserted into the budget during the conference committee and, unexamined and without debate, passed into law. The estate tax, which affects the heirs of only the top 8 percent of Ohio’s wealthiest estates and raised $231 million for local government services and $55 million for state services in 2010, is eliminated (also starting in the next biennium). Although services across the board were slashed, not a single cut was made in the $7 billion tax expenditure budget.
Additionally, Bob Evans was given $8 million in incentives to relocate its corporate headquarters within the state, and other corporations are getting similar bribes. But benefits for people who are unemployed because of domestic violence? That's an expense Ohio just can't take on, even with $176 million in federal support to kick things off.