July 05, 2011
State budget positions Ohio for growth
The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s participation in Ohio’s Campaign for Jobs has been quite successful, as Ohio’s new budget closes a deficit in the billions, changes and improves the state’s operations, and does it all without a tax increase. We joined other business and community organizations in a grassroots effort to press for common sense reforms that will boost Ohio’s competitiveness and provide more accountability to taxpayers. The budget changes state policy for education, Medicaid and local government operations in ways that will save money and improve results. In short, this new budget tells the world that Ohio is serious about solving problems and creating the right climate for jobs.
Education reform was essential to produce the highly-qualified workforce Ohio businesses need. The budget moves in the direction of rewarding and retaining our best teachers based on performance. This is consistent with the highly regarded Race to the Top program in which half of Ohio’s schools voluntarily participate. Now we need to keep up the pressure until there is an excellent teacher in every classroom. Our kids deserve nothing less.
Another provision eliminates the estate tax in 2013, an important tax change that will help small businesses. Another advantage to job creation is a new program called InvestOhio, an incentive that provides an income tax credit to those who invest in Ohio companies.
We also supported changes to the way local governments operate because we believe asking taxpayers for more money must not be the default response to revenue shortfalls. But we recognized local governments must have flexibility to control their costs for this new model to work. Examples include the budget’s opportunities for local governments to share services and pool resources. In addition, the budget institutes public construction reforms that make it more cost-effective to hire general construction contractors.
The Chamber offered public testimony on prevailing wage and its effect on our state’s economic development efforts, and the budget made modest changes to the requirement for prevailing wage on public projects. Much more can be done on this front and we remain committed to removing prevailing wage mandates.
This budget also better protects our most vulnerable Ohioans by reforming Medicaid and long-term care. Disabled children and the seriously mentally ill will have coordinated care that better meets their needs. Low income elderly will have more options for the care they prefer. For taxpayers, the good news is these changes will produce a savings of $1.2 billion in Medicare spending.
This historic budget institutes many improvements that have been talked about for years but with no action until now. The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber commends the Ohio House of Representatives, Ohio Senate and Governor Kasich’s administration for coming together to put government spending in Ohio on a sustainable path.