May 07, 2013
Chamber CEO suggests cuts to improve business climate
Cincinnati Chamber CEO and President Ellen van der Horst travelled to Columbus to speak about the need for changes in the state’s taxation and regulation. She told the Ohio Senate Finance Subcommittee on General Government that state could save $716 million dollars over the course of two years. She spoke on behalf of Ohio’s metropolitan chambers of commerce and the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.
The specific reforms result from the groups’ report: Redesigning Ohio: Transforming Government into a 21st Century Institution. The 2010 report, updated in December 2012, is an in-depth examination of the state government’s expenditures, revenues and fiscal policies. The current recommendations are based on current fiscal data and are intended to help make our state government more efficient and provide greater value for Ohioans.
“We applaud government efficiencies that have been made under the Kasich Administration and the General Assembly,” stated van der Horst. “But we encourage our lawmakers to stay the course and implement additional efficiency measures to help meet the challenges of the (fiscal year) 2014-2015 budget.”
The chambers are pushing for reforms of state regulation, the criminal justice system, public employee pensions, property tax rollbacks and homestead exemptions, and state employee health insurance.
Van der Horst spoke on behalf of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and metropolitan chambers of commerce chambers from Canton, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo, and Youngstown-Warren.
The recommendations were:
- Save $100 million in the 2015 fiscal year by establishing charter agencies, which are government departments or agencies that receive less funding in exchange for more flexibility and freedom to manage. The chambers recommend starting with the Department of Taxation.
Save $24 million in the 2015 fiscal year by continuing effort to move non-violent offenders to less expensive and more effective forms of rehabilitation. The chambers say this will create an opportunity to close a correctional facility.
Save $44 million in the 2015 fiscal year by shifting employee contributions to their pensions. The chambers said recent pension reform legislation was a step in the right direction.
Save $258 million in the 2014 and 2015 fiscal years by taking steps including capping existing entitlements at current levels and returning the homestead exemption to help only low and moderate-income senior citizens and qualifying individuals with disabilities pay their increasing property taxes when they are on fixed incomes.
Save $32 million in the 2015 fiscal year by phasing in increased employee contributions for state employee health insurance.
The group specifically focused on cuts to five key areas: charter agency and regulatory reform, criminal justice reform, public employee pension reform, property tax rollbacks and homestead exemptions, and state employee health insurance.
Operating efficiently builds a strong business climate – and reputation for attracting and retaining businesses in the region. A survey of CEO perceptions in Chief Executive Magazine about states that are favorable to do business in, has found Ohio to have the most significant positive shift in opinions. Ohio ranked as the 22nd best state to do business in, up 13 spots from the year before.
The states are ranked on CEO’s thoughts on states’ taxation and regulation, quality of workforce and living environment.
“We’re achieving what we set out to do: get Ohio back on track by creating a jobs-friendly climate. We’re not there yet and we’ve got a lot of work still to do, but we’re making real progress and it’s great news for Ohio’s families,” said Governor John Kasich, in a news release.