Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ohio Democrats are whistling past the graveyard

This weekend brought an interesting column from the Toledo Blade.

In their "wake-up call" for Governor Strickland, they stated the following:
Mr. Strickland should pay close attention to that message as well. The governor must be seen to be doing more to breath life into the state economy. As the vote on Issue 3 made clear, Ohioans are desperate for jobs. Elected officials who do not follow through on their promise to reduce the jobless rate can expect to be unemployed themselves.
With an unemployment rate over 10% and an ever-shrinking labor force, Strickland continues his focus on everything but improving Ohio's business environment.

How do we know? Look at the Governor's one vehicle for utilizing government action to bring jobs to the state: the Democrat-led Ohio House of Representatives Economic Development Committee. This committee is the primary medium through which all legislation must flow that is designed to increase Ohio's economic development.

With that in mind, you'd imagine the committee would have been quite busy this year considering Ohio's jobs crisis. After all, it is their responsibility to not only mark-up legislation designed to solve the crisis, but to also hold hearings on new ideas and solutions to the problem.

So, how have they done?

In the past 11 months, the Democrat-led House Economic Development Committee has:
  • Met 6 times.
  • Discussed only 4 bills.
  • Approved 1 bill.
  • Refused any hearings on any bill offered by a Republican.
In other words, jack and squat.

That one bill sent through to the House for passage? A compact with the Ohio Cities Task Force to provide a report on "identifying and classifying incentives". This report was supposed to be delivered on September 30th of this year. And what have we heard?

Not much.


Remember what the Blade said? "Elected officials who do not follow through on their promise to reduce the jobless rate can expect to be unemployed themselves."

So with that in mind, what have the Republicans offered so far as bills designed to stimulate job growth? Let's take a look:
  • HB 277. Would authorize to authorize a $2,400 income tax withholding credit for an employer that hires and employs a previously unemployed individual.
  • HB 144. Would grant an income tax credit eliminating tax liability for five years for individuals who obtain a baccalaureate degree and who reside in Ohio.
  • HB 311. Would help businesses cut through bureaucratic red tape and provide accountability in crafting agency regulations.
  • HB 320. Would provide more flexibility, allowing an employer to instead provide compensatory time, or paid time off of work, if a prior agreement is arranged between the employee and employer and the arrangement is voluntary.
  • HB 337. Would require the Ohio Department of Development to produce a report of companies that have relocated out of Ohio, develop a standard questionnaire to elicit the reasons why those companies have chosen to leave Ohio, and share its findings with the legislature.
  • HB 346. Would track Ohio’s success rate in returning and keeping jobless Ohioans in gainful employment.
Now, while I'm not necessarily endorsing each one of these bills, they clearly address the job crisis that Ohio is currently facing. If the House Democrats and Governor Strickland aren't ready to take on the challenge, they have an obligation to their constituents to at least give these bills a fair hearing.

Asked for comment, Ohio Democrats responded with the following***:

*** - not really.

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