Getting public policy right is a difficult challenge. Even when everyone understands the need for change, the forces of the status quo win out. All too often, it is simply easier to let inertia set in and not do the heavy lifting that change requires.
That is why it is necessary that the Buckeye Institute (and others who seek serious, structural reforms focused on restoring Ohio to the forefront of economic growth) be relentless and creative in its engagement on these issues.
Explaining to policy makers just how big an economic hole Ohio has dug for itself over the last few decades is an ongoing process of communication, education and building trust-in our data and our ideas.
Explaining to policy makers the tools and options that are available to limit government growth while empowering the private sector to generate jobs and wealth involved an equally important commitment. The Buckeye Institute can’t just issue a report and expect that the right people will read it and act on its recommendations.
Rather, regular and effective engagement is the key to change.
This week provided an illustration how of this plays out. Buckeye staff testified before three committees on three different issues:
• Senate Finance Committee: urging members to focus on fiscal discipline and restraint and to keep seeking innovation and structural reform rather than a return to the status quo of more spending;
• House Criminal Justice Committee: explaining how keeping low level offenders permanently outside the job market harms the economy, can lead to recidivism and results in higher expenses in the criminal justice system;
• Senate Insurance and Labor Committee: reminding members of the need for systematic pension reform in order to address billions in unfunded liabilities and reduce taxpayer risk, bring public sector benefits in line with those of private sector, and introduce portability and true ownership to the system.Of course, Buckeye Institute staff meets on a regularly with legislators and other policy makers in order to keep policymakers engaged and informed on the critical challenges Ohio faces. But testifying in committee is another opportunity to highlight our fundamental commitment to freedom, opportunity, responsibility and community and to connect those commitments and ideals to concrete policy choices.
And as important as sustained engagement with policymakers is, and will continue to be, grassroots communication and education is equally important. And we continue to be regularly engaged on this front.
For example, Buckeye Institute staff will be participating in a Citizen Watchdog event hosted by the Franklin Center this weekend and at the Northwest Conservative Conference next weekend. We’ll be talking about watching local government spending and workplace freedom.
The challenge before us can be daunting but the Buckeye Institute remains committed to sustained engagement and making sure real reforms are always on the table, not locked away in a dusty file cabinet.