In 2011, Ohio was faced with a choice: We could either establish our own customized, state-run health-insurance exchange where Ohioans could purchase health insurance, or we could use a one-size-fits-all federal exchange. During that pivotal time, I asked Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, director of the Ohio Department of Insurance, to come to the Ohio House Health and Aging Committee to discuss the choice, but my request was met with silence.
Voices from across the health-care system — physicians, health insurers, insurance agents, consumer advocates and hospitals — thought that a state-run exchange would be better for both Ohio insurers and consumers by encouraging more insurers to participate. So Rep. Nickie Antonio of Lakewood and I introduced legislation that would create a state-based exchange. Still, Taylor refused to appear in front of the committee to discuss the bill and ignored all offers to work collaboratively to establish a state-based exchange.
Gov. John Kasich and Taylor opted to do nothing and settle for a one-size-fits-all approach to offer affordable health care to Ohioans. Now, Taylor is claiming that, because fewer insurers are participating in the federal exchange, costs will go up for Ohio's consumers.
In response to today’s Dayton Daily News investigative report on potential conflicts of interest at JobsOhio, Rep. John Patrick Carney (D-Columbus) released the following statement:
“The latest revelations in this ongoing controversy at JobsOhio are disturbing at best.
"It is problematic when you see that a majority of individuals who direct economic development in our state also have personal financial interests in the companies that received state incentives.
“It is beyond problematic when it is exposed that Governor Kasich worked to set up a secretive economic development system that would go on to benefit his recent employers.
“Economic development in our state should be based on best practices and evidence-based projects. It shouldn’t be about who you know, or what your powerful friends can do with taxpayer dollars.”
In response to today’s Dayton Daily News investigative report on potential conflicts of interest at JobsOhio, Rep. Matt Lundy (D-Elyria) released the following statement:
“The veil of secrecy over JobsOhio creates fertile ground for possible corruption.
“Even the perception of conflicts of interest needs to be taken seriously. JobsOhio should be subject to all of the ethics laws that government officials must adhere to.
“Using taxpayer money to reward cozy relationships at JobsOhio and the Governor’s office is appalling.
“It is more apparent now than ever before that we need to account for every dollar used in the name of economic development-- instead of having a ‘take care of your buddy system’.”
State Representative Robert Hagan (D-Youngstown) has led area legislators in writing a letter urging the Federal Government to renew the contract of the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) to manage the incarceration of federal prisoners at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center (NEOCC). The prison, in which CCA employs over four hundred workers from Mahoning and neighboring counties, may see most of its inmate population moved to Pennsylvania if it does not win a re-bid of its current contract.
“The NEOCC has supported Youngstown families with good paying jobs for many years,” Rep. Hagan said. “The significant positive economic impact the facility has had for the Youngstown area cannot be overstated.”
Today, House Democratic Leader Tracy Maxwell Heard expressed frustration with Rep. Ron Amstutz’s (R-Wooster) recent announcement that he is now seeking legislative action for Medicaid expansion on October 1st of this year.
“I think we are all starting to become a little more frustrated every time one of these false deadlines is paraded about,” said Leader Heard. “Rep. Amstutz’s announcement is the seventh time in three months that a he or Speaker Batchelder have changed the deadline for action on Medicaid this year.”
Today, Ohioans were made aware of the arrests of 150 people and the recovery of 105 children involved in child prostitution rings in 76 cities across the country, including the city of Toledo. After hearing of the arrests and subsequent recoveries, Rep. Fedor (D-Toledo) issued the following statement:
“I am grateful for the continued efforts to rescue victims from criminals who profit from these detestable crimes. It is imperative for lawmakers and law enforcement to remain committed to protecting Ohioans from the scourge of human trafficking. My legislation, Sub. H.B. 130, is designed to explicitly prevent and protect minors in the State of Ohio from becoming victims by punishing the criminals who partake in these heinous crimes.”
I have received several calls from concerned citizens, churches and civic groups since the decision in the Trayvon Martin case came out a week ago. All asking what I thought, how I felt, and what I planned to do.
I was deeply saddened for Trayvon’s family when I heard the verdict and at the loss of yet another young black male child. I am sick and sad like so many people who love Trayvon and mourn his loss. My feelings won’t change or soothe their frustration. I hope my prayers will.
Following my sadness, my thoughts turned to how long before this comes to Ohio and how can we stop it?
Ultimately, this senseless situation was a direct result of legislation – House Bill 249 introduced by Rep. Dennis K. Baxley (R-Florida) in 2005 and supported by a majority Republican legislature. 133 of 153 legislators voted to pass Stand Your Ground legislation in Florida.
Therein lies my fear, Ohio Republicans have supermajorities in both the House and Senate – 83 of your 132 elected legislators are prepared to bring Stand Your Ground to your state.
I was deeply disappointed when I saw Ohio's latest job numbers early this morning. Too many Ohioans are out of work; too many Ohioans are still in need; and too many Ohioans are missing out on opportunities that seem to be increasingly reserved for the wealthiest among us.
Ohio needs to build our economy from the middle out, not the top down. We need a strong middle class for our state to emerge from the national recession as a model for the nation, but Governor John Kasich and Statehouse Republicans just don’t get it.
Governor Kasich and the Republican Legislature continue to push an antiquated way of thinking about our economy that is steeped in rhetoric rather than reality. The idea that targeting income tax breaks for the wealthiest Ohioans will somehow create middle class jobs is a ruse. Wealth doesn’t trickle down-- Bob Taft and George W. Bush taught Ohioans that. Yet, Governor Kasich evokes the same tired rhetoric that they used, but with a different spin. Now, the failed policies of the past are trotted back out in recent state budgets and called the “Ohio Miracle.”
It is not a ”miracle” to lead the nation in job losses, or to continue hiding the state’s economic development efforts behind the wall of obfuscation that is JobsOhio. It is not a miracle to propose even more tax breaks for the wealthiest Ohioans, while making the middle class pay for it. No, it is not a miracle. It is not innovation. It is not momentum.
It is simply more of the same.