GCP Supports HHS Levy; Officials to Further Examine Structural & Levy Reforms

 

GCP Supports Health and Human Services Levy

GCP and County Leaders to Examine Future Structural, Levy Reform Possibilities

 CLEVELAND, January 28, 2020 – The Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP) announced the chamber of commerce’s support for a 4.7 mill eight-year Cuyahoga County health and human services (HHS) levy today.  In addition, the organization of more than 12,000 members vowed to convene with County officials to further examine HHS levy-related finances and agreed-upon measurements and metrics to help gauge progress going forward.  In order to help avoid a future HHS levy ballot increase beyond the March 2020 measure, the County plans to develop and publish HHS levy savings that are achieved.

The HHS ballot measure will appear before voters in March.  The position aligns with GCP members’ support of the last two County health and human services levies.  GCP endorsed the 2016 renewal of a 4.8 mill HHS levy and the 2018 HHS renewal of a 3.9 mill levy.  In its 2018 endorsement, GCP member leaders vowed to closely and actively engage with the County on future levy proceedings. 

“Cuyahoga County elected officials are to be commended for taking the business community’s concerns seriously in an ongoing effort to review possible taxpayer savings and improved services that can be achieved,” said Joe Roman, President and CEO of the Greater Cleveland Partnership.  “GCP believes support for the HHS levy increase is necessary because the effort demonstrates a severe and urgent societal need in which progress must be made to ensure economic vitality and those in need are protected sufficiently.  We think this can be achieved in concert with additional feedback and expertise from key stakeholders, partners, and the business community.”      

In addition, GCP and County leaders agreed to establish a task force.  Among the purposes of the task force, will be to create an initial working group to explore and drive potential structural reforms.   Officials are committed to evaluating and pursuing reforms that may improve the overall efficiency of our local tax system to offer improved services and remain competitive with peer cities.

“The business community’s support and expertise on health and human services issues over the years has been crucial,” said Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish.  “We’re fortunate to live in a compassionate region that understands the necessity of this HHS levy increase – an increase we have not proposed in my time as County Executive.  Like GCP, I also recognize the need to coordinate future tax levies in our region and continue to look for improvements we can make surrounding structural reforms and I am committed, and welcome others, to engage in those discussions going forward.  Finally, we are committed to working to ensure a health and human services tax increase is avoidable in 2024.”

“Approving the HHS levy request this March is essential in order to protect those in our community who are most in need,” said Cuyahoga County Council President Dan Brady.  “We thank GCP for their support and we look forward to working with its members to identify additional cost savings and transparent metrics that can be identified to improve upon the significant progress we are making as community for our children and seniors.”

GCP’s strategic plan, ForwardCLE, called for a better understanding of the impact of our collective tax climate.  The proposed health and human services levy represents the second major local tax increase proposal since data was released from the GCP tax analysis.  Additional local tax levy increases are also expected in 2020.  GCP has continually reiterated that the purpose of these important exercises and raising the bar for support for future tax levy increases is to seek areas for improvement, not to single out any one tax or entity.  This position is consistent with GCP’s stated resolve to address the unsustainable trajectory of tax growth and meets our stated basis for exception and creates a path and shared commitment to needed reform.

“As stated previously, it is our sincere hope the public, private, philanthropic sectors, and others can come together to better understand and examine a more cost-effective means of providing vital government services in our region to benefit the communities they serve,” said Scott Chaikin, who serves as GCP Board Chair and Executive Chairman of Dix & Eaton.  “Our members are proud to offer support for the latest health and human services proposal.  We cannot afford to become complacent as a region, however, and working with public officials and our communities is a key ingredient to achieving the success and improvement we all desire.”

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  • Next up: GCP Urging Trade Stabilization and Modernization

    GCP Urging Trade Stabilization and Modernization

     

    The Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition is a collective of chambers of commerce across the region that jointly advocate on core policy issues, including water quality, immigration reform, trade, and transportation and infrastructure. The National Small Business Association (NSBA) is a non-partisan organization with 65,000 members in every state and every industry in the country.

    And, the Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP) is intimately involved with both organizations continuing to call for passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

    The USMCA modernizes NAFTA to be more compatible with today’s economic environment. In fact, and for the first time in a U.S. free trade agreement, the USMCA includes a stand-alone chapter on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This chapter of the USMCA aims to improve information-sharing, create a committee on SME issues, and develop a framework for ongoing stakeholder input.

    GCP calls on the small business community to urge federal policymakers to support passage of the USMCA. For the small business community, predictability on tariffs is key and any instability in this key policy area can impact a small business’ ability to plan for the future.  

    Click here to contact your lawmakers.

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  • Next up: GCP Visits Peer Cities to Learn More About Government Structural Reform

    GCP Visits Peer Cities to Learn More About Government Structural Reform

     

    When GCP’s strategic plan, ForwardCLE, called for a better understanding of the region’s collective tax climate, GCP commissioned a study that analyzed our tax environment’s impact on growth and competitiveness. The study—released in late April—found a stark difference in Cleveland’s tax levels compared to other peer cities. In short, the local tax burden in our region is significantly higher than in similar benchmark cities—nearly forty percent higher than the average per capita tax collections.

    A ballot-by-ballot approach to tax levies isn’t enough to create a positive environment for economic growth and inclusion—and our members are interested in exploring systemic solutions. As a result, the Advocacy team is examining potential paths forward for improvement, including structural reform or specific solutions that lay the foundation for future economic success and high-quality public services.

    So far, the team has engaged over 40 community stakeholders and visited several cities that have experience in this space. In the last several weeks, members of the GCP Advocacy team met with leaders in Louisville, Indianapolis, Nashville, and St. Louis—each of which consolidated or attempted to consolidate portions of city and county government services to create environments ripe for strategic advancements while improving services for residents. With lessons learned from those visits in hand, GCP will continue to engage Northeast Ohioans even more broadly about shaping the future of our region through possible structural change.

    To read past coverage about the tax study and potential reform, click here.

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  • Next up: GCP Hires Consultant to Perform GCRTA Financial Analysis and Presents to GCRTA Leadership

    GCP Hires Consultant to Perform GCRTA Financial Analysis and Presents to GCRTA Leadership


    Earlier this month the GCP Advocacy team provided an update to the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) Board regarding its ongoing efforts to complete a fiscal analysis and economic forecast for the transit agency. Last fall, GCP assembled a taskforce of GCP member companies to guide this work. At a recent GCRTA board committee meeting, GCP’s Vice President of Government Advocacy, Alesha Washington, shared that GCP has hired a consulting group to complete this work. The team combines national expertise in transit finance and operations with a strong local understanding of GCRTA and its fiscal constraints.

    Since this work began in June 2018, GCP has actively worked with GCRTA leadership to develop an approach to studying the current system that will eventually allow GCP to make recommendations about its future, including the structure of a potential levy request. The first step of this effort was to secure a consultant—and now that a team is onboard, GCP will continue to work closely with GCRTA to produce a comprehensive and rigorous analysis. The GCP Advocacy team hopes to wrap up this work—which will culminate in a final report—in fall 2019.


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  • Next up: GCP Holds Seventh Annual DC Fly-In

    GCP Holds Seventh Annual DC Fly-In


    Last week, GCP held the Empowering Local Leadership Conference—it’s seventh annual DC Fly-In event. The conference was hosted in partnership with Northeast Ohio’s U.S. House of Representatives delegation—Congressman Dave Joyce, Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, and Congressman Anthony Gonzalez. Thanks to the leadership of the House delegation and their staff, attendees from across the region connected to federally elected officials and policymakers.

    Throughout the conference, attendees heard from a range of White House officials, including James Carroll, Director of the U.S. Office of National Drug Control, who spoke about Ohio’s ongoing challenges with the opioid epidemic. Andrew Wheeler, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, addressed the group regarding EPA support for local municipalities. Finally, attendees heard from a host of White House officials about community revitalization efforts like Opportunity Zones, which GCP has played a key role in locally.

    During the opening night reception on the Hill, Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman spoke and connected with local leaders. Day two of the conference convened on the Hill again with an Ohio Delegation Breakfast. Participants heard from a range of Ohio delegation House members, but also from national leaders like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Chair of the House Financial Services Committee. Officials from the EPA, Department of Homeland Security, and White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council rounded out this year’s conference, providing valuable information about available federal resources.

    GCP thanks its sponsors for their support of this event, including leadership-level sponsors Westfield Group, Dominion Energy, MetroHealth, and BakerHostetler. Additional sponsors included CT Consultants, NOPEC, University Hospitals, and Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District.


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  • Next up: GCP-Supported Hemp Cultivation Bill Headed to Governor

    GCP-Supported Hemp Cultivation Bill Headed to Governor


    Ohio Senate Bill 57 (SB 57) was introduced in late February and the bill would formally decriminalize hemp in Ohio by excluding it from the definition of marijuana that is used to enforce controlled substance laws.  The latest federal farm bill, enacted by Congress, removed hemp from listing under the Controlled Substances Act, allowing states to regulate hemp through their departments of agriculture.

    A vast majority of states have now enacted legislation to establish industrial hemp cultivation and production programs.  Ohio does not currently have any specific laws in place regarding hemp or hemp products, and hemp and hemp products are prohibited in Ohio because hemp comes from the same plant as marijuana – cannabis.  Therefore, hemp is currently considered a Schedule I controlled substance under Ohio law.

    SB 57 – a bill GCP supported – passed in July with a clause that specifies that it will go into effect immediately, instead of roughly 90 days after the Governor signs it.  The reason is because Ohio is behind other states and the Department of Agriculture needs to set up the program so farmers can plant and have a harvest next spring.  Also, the bill includes provisions allowing the release of CBD products that authorities have seized under some circumstances, and the legislature wants people to be able to get their products back quickly.

    In line with federal law, SB 57 would allow for the sales of hemp, clearly defining hemp and marijuana as different.  Our membership sees merit in aligning state and federal laws – as it relates to hemp – allowing for a responsible, reputable hemp market with the potential to expand jobs and increase prosperity in Ohio.

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