Cincinnati Enquirer | August 17, 2016
By: Micah Derry
Most of us in Ohio remember when the recession hit. Our economy suffered, businesses suffered, and we suffered. Then Ted Strickland stepped into the governor’s office – and the economic policies he brought with him just made things worse.
Yet today our former governor is touting his record, claiming that he implemented “one of the most favorable small business tax climates in the country.” “I oversaw a tax cut for every Ohioan,” he says.
Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
When Strickland was in office, he didn’t oversee tax cuts; rather, he halted a scheduled $844 million income tax cut that could have benefited struggling taxpayers.
But that’s not all he did to make life harder for Ohioans. He also raised fees for a total of $1.5 billion in revenue for the state. The fees came in many forms, and they all took money right out of our pockets. After all, “higher fees are higher taxes,” according to Strickland.
Indeed, they are. And thousands of Ohioans felt the wide-ranging effects of these “higher taxes.” The fee hikes directly increased the costs of things like business inspections, copies of public records, and vehicle registration fees.
Strickland even increased the price some Ohioans pay for garbage collection, though these costs were hidden from plain sight.
And then there were a number of additional fees aimed at certain businesses and industries. Case in point: the hospital “franchise fee.” The fee required hospitals and nursing homes to hand over to the state a percentage of their operations costs and was originally projected to bring in $718 million in revenue from 2009-2011. These higher costs were necessarily passed on to us, making the already high price of health care that much more expensive.
These fee hikes made life harder for Ohioans – especially those who were struggling the most as a result of the recession. After all, these types of fee increases hit the poor and middle class hardest.
But Ted Strickland’s policies didn’t just make life more difficult for our families; they also were disastrous for our economy and our state’s business climate. From 2007 to 2010, when Strickland was in office, our state lost more than 350,000 jobs. That’s more jobs lost than 46 other states during this time.
Make no mistake, this net job loss wasn’t because companies went out of business or moved overseas. Instead, many of these businesses – and the jobs that come with them – moved to neighboring states that boast more favorable business climates.
Here in the Cincinnati region, we came to know that all too well. Many businesses simply couldn’t handle Strickland’s policies. And so they closed their doors, relocating to other areas where their chance of success was much higher.
The United States Playing Card Company, which had spent 108 years in Norwood, announced in July 2008 that it would move its headquarters to Kentucky.
Not even a year later, DHL announced similar plans to move to Kentucky. The package delivery company moved its U.S. hub for international business out of Wilmington and took along thousands of jobs. Later in 2009, Beam Global Spirits & Wine followed the pack, announcing that it would close its Carthage plant and move all production to its facilities in Kentucky.
Simply put, Strickland’s policies made it harder to do business in Ohio, and so businesses left. All the while, thousands of hard-working Ohioans who didn’t have the option to up and leave were left struggling to get by with less money in their pockets.
When it was finally time for his reign as governor to end, Strickland left our state with at least a $6 billion budget deficit.
Ohioans suffered when the recession hit. Strickland’s policies just made us suffer even more.