The Right to Say Yes, the Freedom to Say No: Right to Work in Ohio

“Should Ohioans be compelled to join a union as a condition of their employment? Should workers be forced to watch their hard-earned dollars be taken from their paychecks in support of causes and political candidates they do not support?

Should Ohio remain stuck with a 20th century mindset in a 21st century economy? A right-to-work law in Ohio would resolve all of these questions fairly.

Right-to-work would assure Ohio workers that they have the right to say yes to joining a union — but also the freedom to say no.”

So begins an op-ed penned by The Buckeye Institute’s Greg R. Lawson that was published in the Toledo Blade on February 16.  To read the whole thing, click here.

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5.4K Private Sectors Jobs Added, Unemployment Rate Dips but Remains Higher than National Rate.

The December 2013 Ohio By the Numbers report shows an increase of 5,400 private sector jobs.  Ohio’s labor force increased for the second straight month and  its unemployment rate ticked down to 7.2 percent from 7.4 percent in November.  But the gap between Ohio’s unemployment rate and the national unemployment rate increased, with Ohio now trailing the national unemployment rate (6.7 percent) by half-of-a-percentage point.

There was a nearly 3,000-person increase in Ohio’s labor force in December and an overall 2013 labor force increase of slightly more than 9,000 people. This growth follows Ohio’s labor force loss of 158,000 people between 2010 and the end of 2012.  Overall, the labor force in Ohio has shrunk by nearly 230,000 workers from its peak of 5.97 million people in December 2006. Click here for an overview of Ohio’s labor force since 1990.

If December’s numbers hold, Ohio will have created 35,100 private sector jobs throughout 2013.

Overall highlights from the report:

  • Ohio gained 5,400 private sector jobs in December while losing 400 government jobs;
  • Ohio ranked 34th nationally in private sector job growth since January 2010, growing at a 5.7 percent rate;
  • Ohio currently ranks 47th nationally for private sector job growth since January of 1990, growing at 8.1 percent (top-ranked North Dakota grew 92.7 percent over the same time span).

Within individual industry sectors, Professional and Business Services, Education and Health Services, and Leisure and Hospitality continue to employ more people today than in either 1990 or 2000.  Meanwhile, Mining and Logging, Construction, Manufacturing, and Information sectors have fewer jobs today than in 1990 or 2000.

The report shows that Forced Union states (which includes Ohio and several of its neighbors — with the exceptions of Indiana, which became a Worker Freedom state in February of 2012, and Michigan, whose recent Worker Freedom law became effective at the end of March 2013) had a private sector growth rate far below Worker Freedom states.

Between 1990 and January 2012, Worker Freedom states’ private sector jobs grew at a 38 percent rate vs. only 13 percent for Forced Union states (11.8 million vs. 8 million).  Since Indiana became a Worker Freedom state in February 2012, Worker Freedom states’ private sector jobs grew at a rate of 4.0 percent vs. 2.7 percent for Forced Union states.

For the full report, please click here.

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It is Still Time for Caution in State Spending

Ohio policymakers need to proceed with caution when it comes to spending, even when it comes to expanding a politically popular program such as the State Capital Improvement Program (SCIP).  What looks good today as we climb out of the economic hole Ohio fell into during the late 2000s may look less sunny when the next downturn hits.

When looking at the total state-only spending between Fiscal 1990 and Fiscal Year 2013 (the last year of full spending), Ohio has nearly doubled spending ($10.7 billion in FY90 vs. $21.3 billion in FY13).  This increase is nearly 12 percent over inflation.  Further, this spending does not include the “normal” flow of federal money much less the massive infusions of federal aid that came from the stimulus bill.  It also doesn’t include the federal dollars coming from the recent Medicaid expansion, or the state funds which could (and indeed will likely) be needed to fill gaps that emerge should Washington cut the matching rate.

While the “Great Recession” that began in 2007 has been over for several years, one cannot be certain when the next downturn will take place.   Therefore, fiscal prudence suggests that conservative spending is appropriate in order to avoid the unenviable position of having to make draconian cuts or job-killing tax hikes in the middle of a subsequent recession.  Unfortunately, as Ohio discovered several times between 2000 and 2010, having a higher baseline of spending resulting from spending over inflation during the good times makes one or both of those unpalatable options highly likely when the economy takes a hit.

This background should be kept in mind when considering Senate Joint Resolution 6, which would reauthorize SCIP for ten additional years.

SCIP was created in 1987 through a constitutional amendment that authorized the General Assembly to provide by law for the issuance of general obligation bonds to help local governments fund a myriad of infrastructure projects.  The program lasts ten years and has been renewed twice: in 1995 and 2005.  The proposed SJR 6, if passed by the General Assembly and then passed by voters this November, would increase the borrowing limit from $150 million annually (which began in 2011) to $175 million for the first five years of the renewed program and $200 million for the final five years.  The total amount of issued bonds would be $1.875 billion over ten years and is an increase of over $500 million from the previous reauthorization.  The overall debt load, including interest payments, is estimated to be $3.01 billion by the Office of Budget and Management (OBM), with the annual debt servicing cost to increase by $40 million a year. This remains below the 5 percent constitutional debt-service limitation, but still constitutes a substantial increase in spending and debt.

State and local maintenance of roads, bridges, sewers, and other infrastructure is a legitimate function of government.  However, the existing SCIP Program already provides substantial funding on an ongoing basis at $150 million per year and could easily be reauthorized at this level.  If additional infrastructure spending is needed, then the state should first seek to cut other, non-essential government spending so that there is no net increase in spending.  Failing to review non-essential expenditures for potential cuts risks putting us back to where we were just a few short years ago when passing the state budget was an exercise in parceling out pain.  By contrast, living within our means now can ameliorate the pain when economic storms hit.

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New Medicaid Study Shows Expansion Likely Will Cost More than Advertised

President Obama in 2009 said:

[O]ne of the areas where we can potentially see some saving is a lot of those patients are being seen in the emergency room anyway, and if we are increasing prevention, if we are increasing wellness programs, we’re reducing the amount of emergency room care.

This statement is about as true as “if you like your plan, you can keep it.

The new Medicaid study, published in the Journal Science, shows that Emergency Room (ER) utilization increased by 40 percent after Medicaid expansion in Oregon.  This will mean the expansion is highly likely to be more expensive than advertised.

According to CATO’s Michael Cannon at Forbes,

The authors also did a back-of-the-envelope calculation that “Medicaid increases annual spending in the emergency department by about $120 per covered individual.” So if ObamaCare enrolls all 3.9 million individuals that it has so far identified as being eligible for Medicaid and SCHIP, the law could increase — not reduce — ER spending by something on the order of half a billion dollars per year. If all 50 states had implemented the law’s Medicaid expansion, the additional ER spending might have hit $1 billion per year.

Our own Greg R. Lawson was recently on WCMH Channel 4 discussing this very issue.  Check out the video below.

Columbus Ohio News, Weather
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Ohio Private Sector Job Growth Ranking Falls as Over 12K Jobs Lost

The November 2013 Ohio By the Numbers report (now available on the Buckeye Institute website) shows a rough month for the private sector with 12,600 private sector jobs lost.  This loss pushed down Ohio’s private sector job growth ranking since 2010 from 26th in October to 34th in November.

Ohio’s unemployment rate was at 7.4 percent, which was nearly half of a percent higher than the national average of 7.0 percent.  One bright spot in November was a close to 7,000 person increase in Ohio’s labor force, which contributed to a net Ohio labor force increase since the beginning of the year of around 5,500 people. This comes after 32 consecutive months (between March 2010 and December 2012) of decreases–resulting in a total reduction of Ohio’s labor force by 158,000 people over that time period.  Overall, the labor force in Ohio has shrunk by over 230,000 workers from its peak of 5.97 million people in December 2006.  Click here for an overview of Ohio’s labor force since 1990.

Overall highlights from the report:

  • Ohio lost 12,600 private sector jobs in November, but gained 600 government jobs;
  • Ohio dropped from 26th to 34th nationally in terms of private sector job growth since January 2010, growing at a 5.4 percent rate;
  • Ohio currently ranks 47th nationally for private sector job growth since January of 1990, growing at 7.8 percent (top ranked Utah grew 92.4 percent over the same time span).

Within individual industry sectors, Professional and Business Services, Education and Health Services, and Leisure and Hospitality continue to have more people employed today than in either 1990 or 2000.  Meanwhile, Mining and Logging, Construction, Manufacturing, and Information sectors have fewer jobs today than in 1990 or 2000.

The report shows that Forced Union states (which includes Ohio and many of its neighbors–with the exceptions of Indiana, which became a Worker Freedom state in February of 2012, and Michigan, whose recent Worker Freedom law became effective at the end of March 2013) had a private sector growth rate far below Worker Freedom states.

Between 1990 and January of 2012, Worker Freedom states’ private sector jobs grew at a 38 percent rate vs. only 13 percent for Forced Union states (11.8 million vs. 8 million).  Since Indiana became a Worker Freedom state in February 2012, Worker Freedom states’ private sector jobs grew at a rate of 3.9 percent vs. 2.7 percent for Forced Union states.  

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New Report: Parks 2.0: How Public-Private Partnerships Can Help State Parks

A new report, jointly released by the Buckeye Institute and the Reason Foundation, outlines how public-private partnerships (PPPs) are one promising solution that would invite the private sector to play a bigger role in keeping state parks open without imposing additional burdens on taxpayers.

The PPPs described in the report would transfer the responsibility of maintaining a state park to a private operator, while enabling that operator to raise revenue through entrance and other fees.  It is important to note that at no time does the state relinquish ownership and ultimate authority for any parks managed under such an arrangement.

The model has been used extensively by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).  Colorado, California, Oregon and Washington each have over 100 USFS recreation areas and campgrounds operated by private concessionaires.  Many other western states like Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada each have dozens under private operation as well.

“Given the fiscal pressures in many states, parks are simply not going to be able to keep up with healthcare, education, higher education and other big-ticket spending items in the competition for limited budget dollars,” comments report co-author and director of government reform at Reason, Leonard Gilroy.  ”PPPs operating whole parks are one proven private sector solution used by the federal government for decades–and more recently by California–to keep parks open and thriving in difficult fiscal environments while ensuring quality operations, better maintenance, and high levels of service for visitors.

The Buckeye Institute’s President, Robert Alt, emphasized that ”Taxpayers deserve the highest value for their dollars.  Using public-private partnerships for park management–appropriately structured to protect vital state assets–is a proven means to protect and maintain parks while saving tax dollars.

Highlights of the report include:

  • An extensive description of how PPPs can be structured to guarantee transparency and accountability including case studies involving the Federal government’s use of them in many federally owned lands;
  • How PPPs can utilize outside capital to improve park infrastructure;
  • Specific state-based examples of where and how PPPs can be implemented.

You may view the full report here.

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December 2, 2013 Event; Political Speech and the IRS: Protecting the First Amendment

Join us Monday, December 2, 2013 as 

The Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions presents

“Political Speech and the IRS: Protecting the First Amendment”


Cleta Mitchell

Partner, Foley & Lardner 

Click here to read the Wall Street Journal’s profile of Cleta Mitchell, which discusses her work as one of the nation’s preeminent attorneys fighting against IRS abuse.


Monday, December 2, 2013

6:00 pm: Registration, open bar, and hors d’oeuvre reception

6:30 pm: Cleta Mitchell’s speech


The Athletic Club of Columbus

136 East Broad Street; Columbus, OH 43215

This event is free of charge, but registration is required.

CLICK HERE to sign up to attend.

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