The Senate has approved Ohio Governor John Kasich's plan to hand over job creation functions to a non-profit corporation after lawmakers changed the measure to address some concerns about ethics and public access. On a 31-2 vote, the Republican-led Senate passed the bill to create the new JobsOhio entity. The House passed a different version of the bill and would have to agree to the changes before it goes to Kasich's desk for a signature.
Yesterday Governor Kasich spoke to the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce about JobsOhio. Chris Kershner with the Chamber of Commerce says the organization is in full support of Kasich's efforts to bring jobs back to Ohio.
"We really believe that it's the next step that the state of Ohio needs to take to be attractive for businesses and to help retain and grow jobs in this state," says Kershner.
Speaking to an audience of roughly 300 business and community leaders, the governor also claimed an open-door policy for Chamber members.
The governor made it very clear that he's looking for recommendations from the business community, and he's looking for organizations like the Chamber of Commerce to provide those recommendations for him," says
Kersher. "So we are opening that up to our membership, and anybody that has recommendations on how to better JobsOhio and better the economic development efforts of the state, please let the Dayton Chamber know and we will get those to governor's office immediately.
The governor spoke about JobsOhio and how it should help businesses with job creation in the state. He began by painting a rather serious picture of the state of Ohio.
"Since 1950 Cleveland and Youngstown has lost more than half their population. Cincinnati has 40% of its population. That's almost 10% a year that we're losing people. In the last decade we lost more than 600,000 jobs. Only two states, Michigan and California, have lost more jobs than that. Within three years of graduation one-third of Ohio students leave the state. So we have rising poverty, rising homelessness, stubbornly high unemployment; investment in Ohio has shrunk. It tells you either people are fleeing this state to go somewhere else and/or people are not investing in Ohio anymore."
At the meeting Kasich also talked about taxes, which he says he would not raise in order to fill the projected $8 billion budget gap. Kasich also talked about health care, sentencing reform and the excessive partisanship that he says is gripping the country. One of those lines of division will be seen today as union protestors and Tea Party activists are expected to descend on the Ohio Statehouse in opposing shows of force as Senators hear more testimony on a bill that would strip public employees of collective bargaining rights.
Ohio is facing an estimated $8 billion budget deficit, and Governor Kasich has said union labor costs must be reigned in.
"We should not have public employees that strike. You've got 9% plus Ohioans that are not working. So what I favor is eliminating binding arbitration, going through fact-finding so the public can understand what's on the table, eliminating the right to strike and restoring a set of balance and equity between the public employees and the private folks who pay their benefits. That's my goal. Now what we really want to do is to give management of our cities, of our communities, of our school districts the tools that they need to manage their costs. That is not an assault on anybody."
Earlier this week hundreds of union protestors packed the Statehouse as government officials from around the state lined up in support of the bill. It would eliminate collective bargaining rights and salary schedules for public employees across the state. Kasich has expressed his support of the bill in concept, but he's also signaled that he might offer his own plan that could go even further including banning public employees strikes.
A coalition of Ohio Tea Parties will take part in the demonstrations today. Chris Littleton, co-founder of the Ohio Liberty Council said in a statement this morning that unions are fighting to maintain the current system which is broken and that collective bargaining is a big part of that failure. Littleton says that Ohio has the 7th highest tax rate in the United States and that issue must be addressed.