Outgoing Colorado and Ohio Governors Riff on Economic and Education Policy

Main Street, center, cuts through Sandy Hook, Ky., a place badly battered by the collapse of the coal industry, Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017.

Main Street, center, cuts through Sandy Hook, Ky., a place badly battered by the collapse of the coal industry, Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017. AP Photo/David Goldman

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

Govs. John Hickenlooper and John Kasich appeared together at an event focused on “forgotten Americans.”

WASHINGTON — Two outgoing governors often billed as moderates in their respective parties, and seen as possible presidential contenders in 2020, outlined education and tax policies here Wednesday that they believe could help Americans who’ve been left behind economically.

Govs. John Kasich, Republican of Ohio, and John Hickenlooper, Democrat of Colorado, are both nearing the end of their second terms and, due to term limits, are not up for reelection. Kasich called for an overhaul of the K-12 school system, while Hickenlooper entertained the idea of swapping payroll taxes for a value added tax, or VAT.

The pair appeared together at an event held by the Brookings Institution to highlight the release of “The Forgotten Americans: An Economic Agenda for a Divided Nation,” a book by Brookings fellow Isabel Sawhill that examines the nation’s current economic, cultural and political rifts.

Kasich took the position that the nation’s K-12 education system “simply doesn’t work” as is.

“I don’t blame the teachers. But the system is broken,” he said. “We are operating a school system based on a bunch of people working in the fields.”

Ohio Gov. John Kasich in 2016/Shutterstock

Pressed later by an audience member about what was stopping his state from implementing changes to education, Kasich said Ohio had made some progress, citing state efforts to step in and take over consistently failing schools and specific reforms in Cleveland.

He also said that some changes he had proposed, like requiring a non-elected business person on every school board to help guide curricula, and stipulating that teachers periodically spend a few days observing private businesses, failed to gain traction with lawmakers.

“It’s hard,” the governor said.

Hickenlooper acknowledged limits to how much Colorado could dictate policies for local school districts in the state. But he also said there were ways to offer incentives and to highlight models that work well. He pointed to schools that had improved their performance after extending school day hours and the academic year as an example of a positive policy change.

“All these kids had come from lower-income, chaotic homes where they had a hard time doing their homework,” he said. Now, he added, “they’re doing their homework in school.”

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper in 2015/Shutterstock

On taxes, Hickenlooper suggested cutting payroll taxes, which are paid on the wages and salaries of employees, and imposing a value added tax, a consumption tax similar to a sales tax, that is paid at each step of the supply chain where value is added to a good.

The Colorado governor also floated the idea of raising the salary threshold where people must get overtime pay, so that salaried workers who earn more would be eligible for overtime, rather than earning a fixed, but relatively low, salary while working long hours.

Sawhill was on hand at the event to discuss her book, which zeros in on the roughly 38 percent of working age Americans who do not have four-year college degrees and are in the bottom half of the nation’s income distribution. About half are white, and half are minorities.

Referring to the “white working class” in particular she added: “If we want to understand the populist streak in our politics right now, we have to understand this group.”

The author noted that upward economic mobility in America has been declining, income inequality is historically high, and wages are stagnant, especially for less educated people.

People she spoke to for the book in upstate New York, North Carolina and Missouri indicated that they understand the importance of acquiring job skills, but are skeptical of college. They also expressed concern about low wages and a lack of appreciation from employers.

Another takeaway, according to Sawhill: “they are enormously cynical about government.”

Retraining and relocation efforts for people struggling economically are important, Sawhill said.

She also raised the idea of a tax credit for workers earning under about $40,000 annually to offset payroll taxes and bump up take-home pay. This could cost about $1 trillion over 10 years, based on some estimates. Sawhill said an option to pay for it would be revisiting recent changes to the estate tax, which is levied on inherited property, and moving back to where the tax was in the early 2000s.

Using tax policy to nudge companies toward providing additional training for workers, and profit sharing and employee ownership initiatives, was another option she mentioned.

Turning to the nation’s cultural divides, Sawhill recommends possibly making universal a year of national service for young people, either in a civilian setting or in the military, while also asking families to host young people doing civilian service.

Bill Lucia is a Senior Reporter for Government Executive's Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

FEATURED CASE STUDIES
Powered By The Atlas
Erie County, PA offers all local restaurants free digital tools to plan for safe COVID reopening
Erie County, PA, USA
MN Water District and High School Collaborate on Stormwater and Education
Forest Lake, MN, USA
New Parking Plaza Adds Capacity & Embraces Sustainability at San Diego Airport
San Diego, CA, USA

NEXT STORY: Rating LGBTQ Equality in American Cities

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.