Speaker 1 00:00:16 Hi, everyone. Welcome back to Just a Bite. This week I talked to Will Petrick of Policy Matters Ohio. He came on the podcast to talk a little bit about the recent threats to the economic security and stability of Ohioans in the state budget, as well as a meaningful solution for families, um, to weather the inflation that we're seeing, as well as making sure that Ohio children and Ohio families are able to thrive. Take a listen.
Speaker 2 00:01:01 Hi, will, thank you so much for being on the podcast today. Could you introduce yourself and, um, kinda give the listeners some background on how you got into this work?
Speaker 3 00:01:13 Yeah, thanks so much, Sarah. Um, just really appreciate you and the Ohio Association of Food Banks, uh, for having me today. Uh, so yeah, um, I think when I think about my story of getting involved, uh, part of it starts with just my, my parents growing up. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, definitely instilled values early on. Uh, so my dad at the dinner table talked about the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, and, you know, he was very involved in the community. Uh, and my mom, uh, she is a lifelong teacher, uh, so she's really, uh, she's a music teacher and believes that music will change the world and just loves teaching and learning and has touched so many kids. Uh, and one of the choirs that I was in early on that, that she directed, um, the, the closing song was One Small Voice can Teach the World a song, start with one small voice till another joins along.
Speaker 3 00:02:20 And, you know, again, that, um, that value of your voice matters and everyone has basic dignity, and when we come together, we can, we can change things. And so, yeah, I kind of grew up in that kind of household, and I think it wasn't until I got to undergrad, uh, that I got involved in student organizing and learned, uh, the, the Margaret Mead quote of a small group of committed people and, you know, really started getting involved and, uh, kind of seeing that in action and believing that. And so that was really my, my path for getting involved in this work. Um, how about you, Sarah? I'm really interested in learning more about how you got involved.
Speaker 2 00:03:10 Aw, well, that's such a special, um, story and memories that you have from your parents. Um, thanks for asking. I, um, have a similar situation. I grew up in a, a Catholic household, um, in Catholic schools growing up. And I think I really internalized the social justice teachings of the church and just like really living life with empathy and, um, treating others with dignity. And of course, there's some things that I've taken from the church and have left from the church, but, uh, I think that has always stuck with me to live life with empathy and also like the need to do something about the injustices of the world. So it's like how I got my start and, um, kind of the values I live today.
Speaker 3 00:04:08 That's amazing. Yeah. That actually resonates a lot with me.
Speaker 2 00:04:14 We are talking about making sure that folks are, uh, specifically families are living with dignity and economic security. So we'll be talking about the child tax credit, um, and kind of what it may look like for Ohio to have a thriving family's tax credit. So in order to give some context to this conversation, um, many people know that working in middle class families, um, with children 17 year old years old and under were receiving the enhanced child tax credit and monthly installments during the 2021 tax year. As a result of the American Rescue Plan Act made a real meaningful difference in the lives of many families, including a reduction in childhood poverty. Um, did enhance child tax credit, unfortunately expired due to a lack of political will. Um, and it was not carried over, um, to the 2022 tax year. As you know, will Ohio's Food Bank Network saw an increased demand in early 2022 once the advanced payments expired. Rising costs for many basic necessities have continued to put a serious strain on family budgets. The Ohio legislature is considering additional cuts to the state income tax, um, threatening the public services that Ohio's rely on, um, policy matters. Ohio and the Dignity for All Campaign has a different solution, <laugh>, and that is a state thriving family's tax credit. I was wondering if you could go into some detail about, um, what your proposed thriving family's tax credit would be.
Speaker 3 00:06:10 Yeah, absolutely. Um, thank you first for, for the context and mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Uh, I guess in a, in addition, even before jumping into the Thriving Families tax credit solution, I think the other important thing for listeners to understand, and you've, you've talked about this in your past podcasts are, um, things are about to get worse for many of our neighbors. So, you know, Sarah talked about the end of the child tax credit and those, uh, payments to families with kids. Uh, but basically, um, over 670,000 households in Ohio have been receiving, uh, snap emergency allotments. So that's, um, in addition to the regular monthly snap payment, they've been getting an additional payment at the end of the month. Uh, and that ended, uh, in February. So this month will be the first month that households won't be getting that resource. That's $188 a month on average for households, um, that won't be going to the, those families, uh, to keep food on the table.
Speaker 3 00:07:24 And we've also heard in testimony through the state budget that, uh, the Department of Medicaid expects people to, uh, be disenrolled from Medicaid and they estimate 220,000 Ohioans are expected to lose healthcare coverage. Uh, so, you know, basically we really see now is the time that we do need to come together and make sure that families, and really all Ohioans, regardless of, of what we look like or where we live can live with basic security, uh, and stability. And so, um, to go to, to the actual question of, you know, what is this thing that we're, we're proposing? So, um, you know, the federal expanded child tax credit, um, was initially a monthly payment, uh, and it was a, a direct payment to families. And what we're looking at for Ohio would be an annual payment. Uh, and it would be a thousand dollars annually, uh, for families with kids age zero to five and, uh, $500 tax credit or kids age six to 17.
Speaker 3 00:08:42 And this would be something that, uh, all families making less than $65,000 would be eligible for the full credit. And, uh, it would, um, also go to families up to 85,000, but it would be phased out. So families making 75,000 wouldn't get the full amount of the credit. But, you know, ultimately, again, like Sarah mentioned, what we saw with the federal credit was an immediate impact. When, when families had more money in their pockets, uh, there was an immediate decrease in hunger and food insecurity. Uh, we saw child poverty fall to a record low of 5.2% in 2021. And, you know, ultimately it's about basic security and just making sure families have enough to pay for the basics. So what we saw was more people had resources to, uh, pay for groceries, to get gas, uh, to afford childcare, um, to heat their homes, uh, to, to get those basic necessities. And that's why, you know, we're, uh, calling on state lawmakers and the state budget to, to rewrite the tax code to really focus on, uh, kids and families.
Speaker 2 00:10:02 We touched on it a little bit in the past, but, um, those payments were really going towards, you know, rent, food, childcare, the things that, um, one are really rising at the moment or have been, and, um, you know, like you said, are the absolute basics. Um, and I think that we would be much better off, um, with, um, families who have that money in their pockets so that they can afford the basics.
Speaker 3 00:10:37 Yeah, I think, you know, to your point about the, the current moment, uh, you know, we know that both corporate price gouging and inflation are making it just more difficult for people to afford groceries and gas mm-hmm. <affirmative> and other basic necessities. Uh, and we do have, um, a low wage job market. So four of the 10 most common jobs in the state of Ohio, uh, pay wages so low that a family of three needs food assistance just to get by. Uh, and that's, you know, again, the most common jobs. And I think even to, to take a step back of, you know, why, why does something like this matter and, and also why was the federal expanded child tax credit so meaningful? You know, when we think about the, the state budget and state budget priorities, it's ultimately about outcomes for people. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, right.
Speaker 3 00:11:47 This is about people's lives, and all the research shows that when kids, uh, don't have enough to eat, or when kids are in families, uh, living in deep poverty, they struggle to learn at school and mm-hmm. <affirmative>, they have worse health and economic outcomes, um, into adulthood. And, and on the flip side, when when kids have their basic needs met, have that, you know, security and stability, that foundation, uh, they do better. And so ultimately, you know, the investments in this state budget, if, if we really want to have, as Governor DeWine talks about it, the the best state to raise a family, uh, ultimately, you know, we, we need to really target investments to, to families to help them be stable and secure. And so, um, yeah, I think that's, you know, when we think about the ultimate outcomes, it is about giving kids a better future and, and also helping to make sure families are secure and, and have, um, are able to live with dignity.
Speaker 2 00:13:06 Like you said. Governor DeWine has, um, mentioned that his intentions with the budget is to make sure that Ohio is a great state to raise a family. He has introduced his budget with a child tax deduction. Um, there have been some discussion about who would benefit and the difference between a tax deduction versus a tax credit. Could you kind of walk us through what the difference between a tax credit and a tax deduction would be and who would really benefit from both?
Speaker 3 00:13:44 Yeah, thank you for the question. So I'm gonna start with the who benefits and then talk more about the difference. Um, but yeah, as you mentioned, so the governor's proposed budget includes a child tax deduction, uh, and it's a $2,500 tax deduction. And, um, ultimately what this would mean, if, I'm gonna just share kind of two different families with two different income levels. So if you're a family of four with two children and you're making $200,000 a year, the the tax deduction, uh, would save you $200, uh, a year. Meanwhile, uh, a family that's making $25,000 wouldn't see a dime wouldn't benefit at all. And so the, the child tax deduction, ultimately how it works is this is deducted from your, uh, total income. So that family that makes $200,000 would be taxed, uh, at 25, or excuse me, $5,000 less. So there, there would be two children, uh, both getting a, a tax deduction of 2,500.
Speaker 3 00:15:05 So ultimately they would be taxed on income at 195,000 rather than 200,000. And that would ultimately, again, uh, result in a savings of $200. And again, that family with low wages, um, wouldn't see any benefit. So, um, I think it's important for people to understand the difference between a, a tax deduction and a tax credit, whereas, you know, a refundable tax credit. Uh, so we're again talking about a thousand dollars tax credit for, uh, eligible families with kids age zero to five. Um, so if, again, going back to that example, if you're a family of four with two kids under the age of five, uh, you would get $2,000 back at the end of the year from the thriving family's tax credit. And so that would be something that whether you make $25,000 or you make the median income of $62,000, you would get $2,000 back at the end of the year.
Speaker 3 00:16:13 Um, and again, we really want to change the tax code to support the families, uh, who have historically been been left out and excluded. Um, that was one of the other points I wanted to, to make about why this is important. Uh, so our research also shows that, um, you know, specifically the, the thriving family's tax credit would benefit, uh, both families in Appalachia and black and brown families. So we estimate, uh, that 77% of black children in Ohio would benefit, uh, and also an estimated 300,000 families in the 32 Appalachian counties, uh, would be eligible for the Thriving Families tax credit. So this, again, would, would really provide a boost to those families who have been left out.
Speaker 2 00:17:10 Yeah. It's also, um, economic and racial equity issue as well. And, um, and wanted to ask, what are some potential threats in the budget that could limit our ability to invest in the food security and economic security of children, adults, and families?
Speaker 3 00:17:33 Yeah, so the, I think the biggest threat is ultimately more tax cuts for the wealthy mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, being proposed. So just for your listeners, I think a historical perspective is important. So, um, my colleague Geisha has a report about the, the great tax shift. And, you know, it outlines basically since 2005 in state budget debates, like we're in right now, there have been a series of tax breaks of tax loopholes, of tax cuts for the wealthiest Ohioans. Uh, and as a result of all of that, uh, our research shows that the wealthiest 1% of Ohioans are taking home over $50,000 on average each year in tax cuts. So the, the rich is getting richer. <laugh>, like my dad used to say, <laugh>, uh, or they are getting richer, uh, and, you know, it's basically a luxury car that they can buy every year. Uh, meanwhile, households making $65,000 or less are actually paying more, uh, in state and local taxes.
Speaker 3 00:18:50 And so again, that's why we really, uh, wanted to target in the Thriving families tax credit, those households, uh, who are actually paying more in state and local taxes to provide them with, with some tax relief. Uh, but, um, you know, the other outcome of, of that great tax shift is we have 8 billion less, uh, to invest in the critical health and human services to invest in the food banks, to invest in food security and health and wellbeing of kids and families. Uh, and so, you know, the, the big threat to go back to your question, um, house Bill one, uh, an aspect of that is, uh, basically again, another tax cut for the wealthiest Ohioans. So, uh, they call it a flat tax, but really it is a redistribution of wealth to the richest Ohioans. So, uh, families making less than $30,000 a year wouldn't see any money back from that shift.
Speaker 3 00:19:58 Families making 50,000 would get a tax cut of $3 or less, and meanwhile, uh, people making half a million dollars would get an additional 5,000 back each year. So, you know, if we're adding to our great tax shift, they would be getting 55, uh, thousand dollars back <laugh> in comparison to 2005. Uh, and you know, our position is we, we don't need more tax giveaways to the wealthiest Ohioans. We, we need these resources, uh, to support the security of Ohioans to help sure, help make sure that kids can thrive. Um, and yeah, we, we are also concerned that, uh, if House Bill one is enacted or included in the budget, that the vast majority of Ohioans could see a both diminished public services, uh, at the local level through libraries or senior service levies or children's service levies. Um, but we'd also see tax increases to, to pay for it.
Speaker 2 00:21:07 We know from the national enhanced child tax credit in 2021, uh, that it was quite popular and that many families were using it for necessities. Like we said before. Um, I know you all have, uh, done some additional modeling to show how popular a state child tax credit or state driving family's tax credit would be. Um, what did you find in terms of support for the state child tax credit? I know it was pretty, um, encouraging to see.
Speaker 3 00:21:48 Yeah, it was very encouraging. I mean, basically we found that the people of Ohio are, are really supportive of a state child tax credit. Uh, and you know, basically at the end of last year we partnered with Data for Progress, uh, and they did a survey of close to 1400 likely voters in the state of Ohio. And according to that survey, 77% of people who responded support a state child tax credit and just 18% of respondents opposed. So the people of Ohio, the voters of Ohio are behind us on this.
Speaker 2 00:22:32 Families are aren't just one single issue. Um, so I was wanting to know what are some of the other highlights from the modeling that you did with Data for Progress regarding Ohio and support for economic security and stability and dignity for all Ohioans?
Speaker 3 00:22:52 Yeah, I mean, generally, uh, people <laugh> people want dignity, uh, for themselves and for their neighbors. Uh, so, you know, we found that voters support policies that would support workers. Um, so we asked voters about their support for increasing the state's minimum wage to $15 an hour. There was broad support for that. Um, we found that voters support, uh, increasing taxes on the wealthiest Ohioans and on corporations, um, including creating new tax brackets, uh, to increase tax rates on millionaires, um, and also implementing a state corporate tax rate. Uh, we also found support for social policies, um, such as participatory budgeting, uh, for public spending. That's basically, you know, having more direct say in, uh, how we actually allocate our shared resources. Um, and also found some real support for a health first approach to public safety.
Speaker 2 00:23:58 Yeah, that's all really, um, great to hear. And I know you guys have done a tweet thread and I know that there's an as, uh, a blog associated with it as well, so I'll make sure to have those linked cuz those were really cool to see that there were broad support for all these sorts of issues. I wanna thank you so much for talking to me about this. How can the listeners learn more about you and your work at, um, policy Matters Ohio?
Speaker 3 00:24:32 Yeah, so, um, listeners can follow Policy matters Ohio, uh, on Twitter, we're at Policy matters. Oh, uh, we're also on Facebook. Our website is Policy Matters ohio.org. Uh, and if people want to, to reach out to me, um, feel free. Um, so my email is w petrick policy Matters ohio.org. It's p e t r I k, uh, and I'm at Will Petrick on Twitter. Uh, we're actually, um, with, with the Dignity for All, uh, work that we're doing, we're, we're working now, uh, to develop some fact sheets to help people, uh, meet with lawmakers and help make the case for the thriving family's tax credit. And so we would love to, you know, if you're listening in and you want to get involved and take action and talk with your lawmakers, um, we'd love to work with you. So feel free to, to reach out, uh, and you know, let us know, uh, we're, we're building the team to, to push for dignity for all, and we'd love to have you be a part of it.
Speaker 1 00:25:57 77% of Ohioans support estate funded child tax credit, that's huge. We hope to make the case to our lawmakers that estate funded thriving families tax credit will make the tax code more equitable, would give families more breathing room and would increase stability for Ohio's kids. Thank you for listening and we'll talk soon.