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Public Policy Groups Host Event To Debate Issues

Three public policy groups at different points on the political spectrum are coming together for one common purpose. The conservative Buckeye Institute, the progressive Center for Community Solutions, and the moderate Greater Ohio groups are hosting one event to debate some big problems facing the state. Greater Ohio’s Lavea Brachmann says lawmakers haven’t been able to make progress on these issues because of partisan gridlock.

Brachman says, "Extreme partisanship that’s been displayed in the political realm has begun to impair our collective ability to problem solve and ultimately endangers our ability to compete for economic gains in the 21st century economy."

The Buckeye Institute’s Matt Mayer says lawmakers are often so partisan that they won’t work with each other.

Mayer says, "There are times the legislature doesn’t even appear to talk to each other across the other side of the aisle. And all that ends up doing is insuring that problems don’t get solved and Ohio remains lagging and we cannot continue to have that kind of mentality."

So Mayer explains the three policy groups have decided to have a statewide conference on December 8th to discuss important problems facing the state. He says the idea is to come up with ideas that lawmakers could use. And he says the three groups have done that before.

Mayer says, "Five months ago, we put together the tax expenditure reform package that involves cutting specific tax expenditures, putting in a sunset commission to review every tax expenditure, and then putting together a state and local tax commission to move this thing forward. And now, that has become the conversation on the tax expenditures because both the left and right came together and gave both of our groups the political cover to start having the conversation and now the conversation is actively occurring. And so I think if we can bring those folks together and can give them the cover on a broader perspective, it makes the possibility of dialogue and solutions much higher than it is today."

There will be keynote speakers like Alice Rivlin, the Director of the office of Management and Budget under former President Bill Clinton. Arthur Laffer of the Laffer Center for Supply Side Economics and Bard College Foreign Affairs and Humanities professor and Author Walter Russell Mead will also speak at the event. John Begala with the Center for Community Solutions says the idea will be to tackle some of the most pressing issues facing the state right now.

Begala says, "Understanding those mega trends and how they break things out make, or certainly change, the way we look at what is liberal, what is conservative, what is big government, what is small government, what are the roles of local state and national government in subsidizing various types of public services, what ought to be spun off to the private sector that government is doing, what is essential for government to do."

The three groups hope many state lawmakers will attend the conference. But it’s also open to the general public.