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GOP should embrace disclosure of tax dollars spent to prop-up employee benefits, by State Rep. Robert F. Hagan
March 21, 2014
It's Common Sense to Let the Sun Shine on Taxpayer-funded benefits

As Ohio marks Sunshine week, GOP inaction in the state legislature means that Ohioans remain in the dark on how some of the state’s largest corporations are propping up employee benefits at taxpayers’ expense.

According to a state-issued June 2009 report, some of the largest and most profitable corporations in Ohio were also among the top ten biggest users of taxpayer-funded public assistance. For example, as Ohio’s largest private employer, Walmart has roughly 50,000 employees. Of those, between ten and fifteen thousand workers must rely on Medicaid for their healthcare. While just one example, the numbers from the top offenders are tragically routine.

Each month, some of the most profitable companies in Ohio leave it to the taxpayer to fill in the gaps left by their corporate neglect, with tens of thousands of their workers relying on Medicaid, food stamps and even cash assistance to make ends meet.

For too many years, my calls for transparency in spending taxpayer dollars have been ignored by Republicans who control state government. It seems they remain completely disinterested in helping illuminate how taxpayer dollars are being used to subsidize the health benefits of hard working Ohioans that are neglected by their employers. But, I will not stop—the public has a right to know.

This year, I again introduced legislation to shine a light on how we allocate taxpayer dollars to subsidize health benefits for employees of some of the largest corporations in Ohio.

Under House Bill 356, the director of Job and Family Services would be required to report the employers with the largest employee use of state public assistance, and provide that information to General Assembly, Director of JobsOhio, Director of Budget and Management and the Tax Credit Authority on an annual basis.

Having this information available will allow the legi

 
 
Inconsistent reporting, results from JobsOhio underscore need for sunshine
March 21, 2014
The Forecast For Transparency in Job Creation for Ohio Looks Gloomy, by Rep. Denise Driehaus

While the rest of the country celebrates open and accountable government during Sunshine Week, the forecast for government transparency in Ohio looks much gloomier. In recent months, national groups have consistently ranked Ohio at the bottom of lists measuring both government accountability and the economic strength of our state. Yet, the annual report released last week by JobsOhio demonstrates this administration’s commitment to policies that continue to hurt regular Ohioans.

While Ohio’s economy falls further and further behind, no longer can middle-class Ohioans afford an agency that has failed to create jobs and remains unaccountable to the taxpayers who fund it. Instead, we need to get our economy moving again by investing in the middle class, prioritizing our local schools and communities and restoring accountability in state government.

A November 2013 Enquirer report demonstrated how the job-development incubator actually cost more and delivered less than their open and accountable predecessor, the Ohio Department of Development.

In 2008, when the Great Recession hit Ohio and the rest of the country, it was clear the road to recovery was going to be a long one. However, in 2014, while the national economic recovery continues to move forward, Ohio’s economic recovery has come to a grinding halt. As Ohio ranks 45th in the nation in job creation with nearly 400,000 Ohioans unemployed, clearly something in Columbus isn’t working for Ohioans.

I believe that Ohioans deserve economic policies that reflect their priorities and a government that is open and accountable about putting those policies into place. As I read this year’s JobsOhio report, it became obvious that the pro

 
 
Proposed bill will increase number of school safety drills each year
March 20, 2014

On Wednesday, the Ohio House passed House Bill 178, sponsored by State Rep. Debbie Phillips (D-Albany). The legislation, which now heads to the Ohio Senate, would increase the number of school safety drills from one to three, with an additional session for teachers and staff. The proposed changes allow for coordination with local law enforcement.

 
 
Dark shadows continue to prevent taxpayers from seeing inside JobsOhio
March 17, 2014

As Ohio recognizes March 16-22 as Sunshine Week, dark shadows continue to prevent taxpayers from seeing inside the state’s controversial economic development entity, JobsOhio.

JobsOhio has attracted the scrutiny of local and national media, good government groups and the public for its use of taxpayer dollars without taxpayer transparency and accountability. Media outlets have discovered potential conflicts of interest and misappropriations of public funds, yet Gov. Kasich and Ohio’s GOP have used their absolute control of state government to pass a law—Senate Bill 67—that expressly prohibits public state audits of the entity.

My Democratic colleagues and I have introduced legislation to remedy the shortcomings Ohio has faced with transparency and accountability. We have put forth bold proposals to increase public accountability and transparency at JobsOhio, disclose the value of corporate tax credits and disclose public assistance use by corporations.

Our efforts face stiff opposition, yet we will continue to fight for Ohioans’ right to see how their government works—or doesn’t.

While Sunshine Week highlights the importance of open government, transparency and accountability cannot be achieved through symbolism. Legislative Democrats have shown that actions speak louder than words. It is time for our Republican colleagues to do the same.

 

-State Rep. John Patrick Carney

 
 
Bipartisan legislation would require schools to develop an opioid curriculum
March 13, 2014
 
House Democrats committed to advancing Ohio women this March & year-round
March 6, 2014
Leader Heard: Celebrating National Women's History Month

Since 1987, we’ve celebrated March as Women’s History Month throughout the United States. From the first six female legislators elected in 1923 to the nearly 200 women who have served in the Ohio General Assembly since, this state is certainly rich in examples of women who have leant their names to Ohio’s history with courage, leadership, and determination.

 

 
 
Trips for routine maintenance to be allowed under new law
March 5, 2014

State Rep. John Patterson (D-Jefferson) announced that his commonsense proposal to update registered historical vehicle uses was recently signed into law. 

 
 
At 9:20 mark, legislators raise questions about secrecy, transparency
March 5, 2014
 
Responds to JobsOhio report showing Ohio falling behind in 2013
March 4, 2014