Friday, October 23, 2009

GUEST COLUMN: "Who's at Ohio's Helm?"

By State Rep. John Adams

During this recession, Ohio’s families expect leadership from their elected officials more than ever. But these days, the halls of the Statehouse are relatively quiet as the Ohio House appears frozen in the face of the economic crisis. There are occasional votes on bills that have little or nothing to do with Ohio’s economy or creating jobs. And in the case of the House Economic Development Committee, the hearing room has remained silent for all but just a couple hours since January.

How can House Democrats continue to ignore our state’s hardships? What can possibly be more important than getting Ohioans back to work and modernizing our tired economy?

We as legislators have an obligation to help those who are struggling through this recession by changing the way Ohio does business. There is much work to be done here in the Buckeye State, but the Economic Development Committee has yet to pass any substantial bills to the House floor. We need to be looking for innovative ways to attract businesses and jobs to our state, and the successes and failures of our neighboring states is a good reference point for what needs to be done here in Ohio.

Consider Indiana, which ranked 47th in economic performance in the 2009 ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index. After years of irresponsible leadership and a weakened economy, Governor Mitch Daniels took the reins and radically improved the state’s business climate by cutting wasteful spending, revamping government structure, and avoiding tax increases. He managed to turn a $700 million budget shortfall into a $1 billion surplus. All of these initiatives have created jobs, attracted $8 billion in foreign investment to Indiana in the past two years, and earned the state an ALEC-Laffer Economic Outlook ranking of 17th in the nation.

If we can learn anything from Indiana’s example, it’s that a major improvement to Ohio’s economy requires major effort and commitment. It will be impossible to create jobs and grow our businesses without fully committing to making that happen. Unfortunately, aggressive action has yet to be seen in the Ohio House, and there are no signs that it will even start in the first place.

After months of inaction by the House Economic Development Committee, we launched our own analysis of Ohio’s business climate to examine which areas of our state’s economic development can be improved. We believe that, like Indiana, Ohio has the capability to turn its economy around and become a national competitor for jobs and businesses. We met with members of the local business community to discuss how the Ohio Legislature can improve the corporate climate and assist small businesses. Based on our conclusions, we created “The Future of Ohio,” a package of ten bills to cut bureaucratic red tape and facilitate small business growth, which is the primary avenue for Ohio’s economic recovery.

As a small business owner, I believe that the first necessary step toward Ohio’s recovery is promoting small business growth within our communities. Like Indiana, if we strive to lessen government’s presence by doing what is necessary to grow our economy, rather than government, we can turn our outlook around. By supporting the creation and expansion of Ohio's small businesses we can make a positive change for the future.