COLUMBUS, Ohio — As President Obama was in Downtown Columbus Wednesday attending a Democratic fundraiser for Ohio Democrats like incumbent Gov. Ted Strickland, Ohio Auditor Mary Taylor, a Republican running for Lt. Governor along side ticket topper running mate John Kasich, engaged reporters in a short conference call in which she called Strickland an “incompetent administrator” and said JobsOhio, a new non-profit proposed by her campaign to replace the state’s existing development department, would help create the jobs she said Strickland has failed to do on his watch.
Taylor, a certified public accountant and former House representative who was the only Republican to win a statewide office in 2006 when Strickland and three other Democrats reclaimed posts long-held by Republicans, said jobs was the only issue Ohioans were interested in. “The president has a lot to answer for,” she said in the conference call, noting that 130,000 Ohio jobs were lost since the signing of the federal stimulus bill in Feb. 2009, that all nearly all congressional Republicans voted against. She said the bill “helped explode the national debt to a trillion dollars.”
For Strickland, a first-term Democrat who got bad news today when the latest Rasmussen Reports poll showed he now trails his opponent by eight percentage points – 48-40 – or more if voters ‘leaning’ to one candidate or the other are factored in, Taylor’s not surprising and not un-biased assessment of his performance was a “zero minus.”
Taylor laid into Strickland for a recent incident that involved his administrators using federal stimulus dollars to contract with a Texas company that subsequently used the funds to create jobs in El Salvador. Mocking Strickland for his statement that he couldn’t “recall hearing about” it, Taylor, who Republicans wanted to run again for state auditor but who joined Kasich instead, said Strickland is an “incompetent administrator,” and said Ohioans have moved away from him to Mr. Kasich, who last evening said he would eliminate the state’s publicly run development department in favor of a private non-profit one that would be staffed with business professionals who are better equipped to move “at the speed of business,” to borrow a line from Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who made the same change when he first became Indiana’s governor.
Ohioans, Taylor said, “are tired of the big spending, the big screw-up, and who to blame” and want elected officials who are accountable. Noting that 400,000 jobs have been lost on Strickland’s watch as governor, Taylor said Strickland has no ideas for how to create them. She said she and Kasich will have “complete dedication to reviving Ohio’s economy” and that their new economic development effort will “tear down barriers to business success.”
Asked if she and Mr. Kasich, if elected, would accept a second round of federal stimulus funding, Taylor said Ohio “should get its fair share” of such funds, but that the state “can’t kick the can down the road” anymore and that “we have to look for long term solutions.” One of those solutions, she said, is to “get a budget that sustainable long term,” that can create an economic environment in Ohio where small businesses can thrive, and where new businesses will locate. Sticking to the her campaign’s talking points, which are the same talking points used by national Republican leaders, Taylor said Ohio needs to deal with the “big government burden Democrats have brought us.”
In the Kasich-Taylor campaign announcement from yesterday on their JobsOhio plan, the rhetoric on it said that “Though once a cutting-edge organization, the Ohio Department of Development no longer effectively meets the needs of businesses to help create jobs or revive the economy.” Consequently, “Ohio’s economic development efforts must be re-aligned to make job creation and economic development a priority and must be rooted in the belief that economic health comes from a strong innovative, flexible private sector, not from government.”
As governor, Kasich will replace Ohio’s government-run economic development functions with JobsOhio, a new not-for-profit corporation which will report to the governor to lead the state’s economic development efforts. And what will this change, which is not a new idea as it’s been mentioned many time before, do?
First, Kasich will appoint a 12-member board of directors who will serve at his pleasure and oversee JobsOhio’s work and serve as key economic development advisers to the governor. The board will be comprised of current and former CEOs, including CEOs from small and entrepreneurial growth companies, and will be selected from different regions of the state and major industry groups. The Board will hire a Chief Executive Officer who will serve as an ex officio member of the Board.
Second, JobsOhio will attract business and development professionals who might otherwise be disinclined to work in state government. Unhindered by state civil service policies, JobsOhio’s compensation policies will reflect the corporation’s performance, including economic development progress, job creation, and increases in the state’s tax base. The goal will be to attract the best business and development experts, as well as experts in Ohio’s industry sectors and target industries with high growth potential.
Third, the state will contract for service with JobsOhio, which will also be able to accept funds from individuals, businesses, labor organizations, foundations and other private sources.
Fourth, any functions of the current Department of Development that are not directly related to economic development will be evaluated and moved to other state agencies.
Among its functions, JobsOhio will have a regional focus, so it can create a network of regional project managers with extensive local experience who will coordinate efforts with the board and JobsOhio’s staff to serve as both local points of contact for businesses as well as advanced eyes and ears to identify potential challenges early.
As recently as only three weeks ago, Rasmussen had Kasich up by only 3 points. With today’s poll results, the race now “leans Republican” from “tossup.”
Only 6 percent of Ohio voters described the economy as good or excellent, while 61 percent said it was poor. Twenty-three percent say the economy is getting better, while 55 percent think it is getting worse.
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Rasmussen Reports Ohio Poll
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