Ohio business leader says companies need a skilled workforce more than tax cuts
Government and business leaders said keeping high school graduates in Ohio and training them for the jobs of the future is key to the state’s future economic success. And they are urging members of the Ohio Senate, who are considering the two-year state budget right now, to invest in K-12 funding, college and job training opportunities.
Gov. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) said when he’s trying to get businesses to come to Ohio, it always comes down to whether there will be an available workforce.
“The final piece always is can you find the people we need to fill the jobs? If they cannot find the people they need to fill the jobs, they will not come to Ohio," DeWine said.
DeWine said that’s why it’s important for lawmakers to pass the educational programs in his budget.
Demographic changes play a role
Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted (R-Ohio) agreed, noting the Buckeye State is going through some demographic changes right now that will make educational opportunities even more critical.
"We face a demographic challenge in America, and particularly, in the midwest. Ohio and every state that borders Ohio is projected to have fewer people in the working age workforce over the next 10 years in that key demographic of 25 to 60. The "Baby Boom" generation has retired and subsequent generations don't have as many children in it and therefore the workforce is shrinking," Husted explained.
Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) has been trying recently to make the point that Ohio doesn't have enough young people to balance out the older population, a comment he said he's received criticism for.
"I kind of got criticized for a comment I made at a press conference about how it's important to have more children, because otherwise the social security system is in deep, deep trouble, but then people said it was none of my business, but I still think we ought to have more kids in the world," Huffman told reporters last week.
Huffman has been making that comment in the context of discussions about abortion rights. His members in the Ohio Senate are the ones now considering the two-year state budget. DeWine said he hopes lawmakers in that chamber fund his educational priorities which were scaled down in the House version of the budget. The House version provided tax cuts that DeWine didn't include in his budget document.
Education funding versus tax cuts
Ohio Business Roundtable Executive Director Pat Tiberi said tax cuts are attractive to businesses. But he said if it comes down to tax cuts versus money for education at all levels and job training, the latter makes the most difference to business development in the Buckeye State.
"If you are an employer and you have 186 job openings that require a four-year degree or an advanced degree, a tax cut is not going to help you fill that job. You are going to look to move that job somewhere else," Tiberi said.
Tiberi said it's important to make sure high school graduates have money for college or job training, so they can prepare for the jobs that will be needed to help Ohio's business climate prosper in the future.