June 29, 2011

Ohio’s Lost Decade, and Its New Hope

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,General,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 5:44 pm

NoTaftNoStrickland0611kaisich_hope_thumbnail_6-24-11WeThePeopleLogoCan John Kasich and Tea Party activists save Ohio?

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Note: This column went up at Pajamas Media and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Monday. I intend to keep this column at or near the top today.

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I first saw John Kasich in person at a county Lincoln Day dinner in early 2007. Though the former congressman was a bit under the weather, his animated, passionate style and strong convictions were still quite evident. When he said, in essence, that “Ohio is circling the drain,” you knew he meant it, even though I doubted it.

I shouldn’t have. With the election of Ted Strickland, I believed that trouble was probably on the way. I didn’t appreciate that it was already here.

A recent USA Today chart compiled from government data reported that from 2001 to 2010, Ohio’s economy contracted. Not by much, mind you — 0.7% — but only auto-overdependent Michigan fared worse (-7.1%), and no other state grew by less than 6%. As a whole, despite the Internet bubble, the 9/11 attacks and the recession, the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by over 16% during the decade. Meanwhile, the Buckeye State’s economy spent the time mired in mediocrity and worse, and all those who could have done something about it did was damage.
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From Columbus, Via the Church of ‘They Said It Couldn’t Be Done’: A Real Turnaround Ohio Budget Has Passed

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 5:42 pm

oh_mapI just received what follows below from Ohio’s House Republicans, and am choosing to publish it in its entirety.

While there will perhaps be time to quibble later (it’s no fun if we don’t reserve the opportunity to do that :–>), the importance of the overall accomplishments noted in what follows should not be underestimated, and should, after well over 15 years of de facto blue-state governance, be savored (bolds are mine):

Ohio House of Representatives Passes Historic Budget that Prioritizes Education, Job Creation in Ohio
$8 billion deficit closed without raising taxes

COLUMBUS—Maintaining a promise that was made during the previous General Assembly, the Ohio House of Representatives today passed a sustainable, fiscally responsible budget bill, marking a historic effort to successfully fill an $8 billion budget deficit without raising taxes on Ohioans.

Substitute House Bill 153, in addition to improving government efficiency and making Ohio more economically competitive, makes significant investments in the programs and services that matter most to Ohioans, while at the same time respecting and protecting Ohio’s taxpayers.

“After a challenging three and a half months of thoughtful debate and consideration from members on both sides of the aisle, today we took a momentous step toward a leaner, more cost-effective state government,” said Speaker of the Ohio House William G. Batchelder (R-Medina). “Throughout this process we have kept the interests of Ohio’s families and the middle class at the center of the debate, ensuring that we didn’t increase their tax burden at a time when they are least able to afford it.”

To retain Ohio’s small businesses, assist family farmers and encourage retirees to remain in Ohio, the Ohio Legislature included a provision in Sub. H.B. 153 to eliminate the estate tax in its entirety effective January 1, 2013. In total, Ohio’s taxpayers will save nearly $1 billion over the biennium through the Legislature’s efforts to reduce government waste and reconfigure the allocation of scarce financial resources.

The budget also establishes InvestOhio, which strives to spur new investment in Ohio and enhance innovation by rewarding major investments in the state. It would exempt any Ohioan who invests in an Ohio company and holds that investment for at least two years from paying state income taxes on its gains. Additionally, if an individual utilizes the gains from selling a stock to reinvest in an Ohio company and retains that investment for a two-year period, they may apply for a refundable state tax credit related to that original sale of shares.

“Creating jobs, encouraging investment in Ohio’s small businesses and making it easier to do business in Ohio were some of the primary objectives of this budget,” said Chairman of the House Finance and Appropriations Committee Ron Amstutz (R-Wooster). “We took significant steps toward making Ohio a role model for the rest of the nation in an effort to revitalize what has been, in recent years, a struggling economy. We’re transforming the way the state of Ohio operates, solving the current structural imbalance without raising taxes. This is how an effective, responsible government should operate.”

Sub. H.B. 153 holds education paramount and uses existing funds to provide in-state college tuition rates for Ohio high school graduates who have left the state within the past 10 years, which would incentivize their return to the state. Moreover, the budget adds more than $100 million in additional dollars over the executive version to the school foundation formula and guarantees that no district receives a cut in state aid.

The Legislature also expanded the value of and the eligible participants in the Cleveland Voucher Program to make education more affordable and to untie the hands of low-income families. The budget also increases the number of EdChoice Scholarship Program vouchers to 14,000 to 60,000 in fiscal year 2013 and increases the charter school sponsorship cap to 100.

“When the State of Ohio brought in increased revenue, we decided to invest those dollars in Ohio’s schools and give them an additional boost in their state aid,” said Vice-chairman of the House Finance and Appropriations Committee John Carey (R-Wellston). “Through this budget, we continue to capitalize on the opportunities before us and invest in the things that matter. At this time, we believe that our schools need the additional dollars so we can ensure that Ohio’s students receive a quality education, even during this difficult economy.”

The Legislature prioritizes protecting Ohio’s most vulnerable citizens by investing $31.3 million in fiscal year 2012 and $63 million in fiscal year 2013 over the executive budget in PASSPORT for seniors and allocating an additional $7.5 million for mental health services. Funding for Second Harvest Food Banks increases by $1 million annually to provide food and resources to people in need. Additionally, the budget provides for kinship care funding at $6 million over the biennium.

Moreover, the budget provides $400,000 for the State Medical Board to fight prescription drug abuse, which has become increasingly prevalent, particularly in southern Ohio.

“The 2012-2013 budget means more than just an allocation of money for the biennium—it is an outline of our state’s priorities now and in the future,” said Amstutz. “In addition to promoting a better state economy and investing in our schools, the budget also safeguards Ohio’s citizens and promotes a better quality of life in Ohio.”

Putting education—as well as job creation and economic growth—first in this budget, the Ohio Legislature devoted an unwavering commitment to responsibly filling the multi-billion dollar budget deficit that was inherited from the previous administration.

Speaker Batchelder, Chairman Amstutz, and Vice-chairman Carey would like to thank Governor Kasich and the Ohio Senate for their continued hard work and collaboration on Sub. H.B. 153. They are also appreciative of the many citizens and interested parties who testified before the committee to help make the budget a better, more comprehensive bill.

“This budget has been a long and, at times, difficult process, but I could not be more pleased with this bill or the diligence that went into construction of this budget,” said Batchelder. “We’ve taken great strides toward making Ohio a better place to live, work, raise a family and start a business—but to paraphrase my good friend in the Governor’s Office, you ain’t seen nothing yet.”

Sub. H.B. 153 now awaits the governor’s signature.

Related: Ohio’s Lost Decade, and Its New Hope

AP Joins Bloomberg in Predictable Purge of ‘Unexpectedly’ in Consumer Confidence Report

APheartsObamaOne might be an accident. Two indicates a bit of a trend.

Yesterday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that an early dispatch from Bloomberg on a disappointing consumer confidence report opened by telling readers that “Consumer confidence unexpectedly fell in June to a seven-month low …” A later version purged the dreaded U-word (“unexpectedly”), opening with “Consumer confidence dropped to a seven-month low in June …”

It seems that hypersensitivity about use of the U-word — which during the Obama administration has come to mean “unexpectedly bad” far more often than not — is also present at the Associated Press. Recently, it seems that the AP has generally avoided the problem by ignoring analysts’ predictions when reality reveals that they were far too optimistic. Yesterday, in a more obvious revelation of the wire service’s mindset, a pair of Retail Writer Anne D’Innocenzio’s consumer confidence dispatches repeated the U-word purge seen at Bloomberg. What follows are graphic grabs of the early sections of both reports and a related subsequent paragraph within each.

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IBD Rips (Not Really) Clueless Ben

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:33 am

In a Tuesday editorial, Investors Business Daily explains to Ben Bernanke what anyone not blinded by ideology can see about why the economy is underperforming:

How Can The Fed Be So Clueless?

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says he’s puzzled by the failure of the economy to respond to our government’s many ministrations. Which explains much of why our economy is such a mess.

… We’ve spent the better part of three years with government making the most extraordinary interventions in the economy in our nation’s history.

Government spending, as a share of the economy, has soared 25%. Regulations, many of them arbitrary and foolish, such as the ban on incandescent light bulbs, have never been more numerous.

Businesses say in survey after survey that, with all the government’s micromanaging of the economy, they are uncertain of what comes next, and therefore are postponing investment and hiring decisions….

After reciting the well-known litany of failures and heavy-handed interventions, IBD cuts to the chase (bolds are mine):

Look at what’s transpiring in our markets. After repeated government intervention, no one today knows the real price of food, housing, energy, raw industrial goods, bonds or stocks (or medical care — Ed.). The amount of government money distorting these vital parts of our free economy is so great, our markets can’t really function.

Free prices set by buyers and sellers are the way free markets work. Free prices create efficiency. They send vital signals about what to produce — not to mention when and where and at what price.

Absent those price signals, which happen spontaneously between buyers and sellers, a free-market economy can’t work. That’s what’s happening today. And that’s why the USSR, with all of its grand five-year plans and thousands upon thousands of apparatchiks, couldn’t make its command economy fly.

A handful of bureaucrats can never set prices or allocate goods or decide what should be made as efficiently as millions of people acting in their own interest through a free and open market.

Our policymakers seem to have forgotten this. They make statements that indicate they don’t know the damage their policies are doing or they are willfully oblivious to them.

I vote for the last five bolded words, especially in regards to Bernanke. I believe that the Obama administration made it clear in no uncertain terms a year ago (evidence here, here, and here) that if the economy tanked, he would get smeared with the blame — even though, short of running the electronic printing presses at full speed, he had done everything he could with monetary policy in an attempt to offset God-awful fiscal policy. So, instead of standing up, he ran the printing presses.

Additionally, certain people in Washington are quite pleased with themselves at the damage they’re causing in the name of achieving their “progressive” nirvana. To believe this, all you need to do is look at what they were saying before they were given power.

Feigned ignorance is the last refuge of Gangster Government.

Positivity: Remembering Mildred Fay Jefferson

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 5:58 am

From National Right to Life (HT to a Mass Citizens for Life email):

Also: Michael J. New’s tribute at the Corner.