The Ohio Chamber of Commerce released a comprehensive report that it says will help improve the state’s business climate.
The report looked at data from Ohio and compared it to other states. It looked at six distinct areas, including education, quality of life, taxes, business friendliness, innovation and infrastructure.
The report also made recommendations on ways to improve Ohio’s business climate and competitiveness.
Steve Stivers, president and CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, said the recommendations include teaching more computer skills such as coding in high schools, creating affordable housing and health care. more accessible healthcare, increased risk capital, improved infrastructure and reduced regulations.
Another key recommendation included reforming Ohio’s tax structure as it relates to local taxes.
“We’re not advocating cutting opportunities or revenues for our local government partners. We’re saying there could be a different or better way to fund local governments,” Stivers said.
Just over 10 years ago, local governments in Ohio received substantial state funding. But former Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, cut state money for local government funds by 25% in 2012 and 50% in 2013.
In a 2019 report by Policy Matters Ohio, between 2006 and 2018, local governments lost $1.4 billion a year, adjusted for inflation, due to cuts in state aid and the loss of local tax revenue reduced or eliminated by the state.
This report showed that state-level cuts put more pressure on local taxpayers. Stivers said he thinks local governments and the state should work together now to come up with viable options, but he understands why local governments might be a little wary.
“I know after the previous administration they don’t really trust the state and local government fund because it was cut several times under the Kasich administration, but we want to have that conversation. “said Stivers.
Stivers said there are 848 tax jurisdictions that don’t necessarily define income the same way. Stivers said simplifying administrative procedures, creating a definition of income and then a filing destination for businesses, would ease the administrative burden.
But not everyone who examines Ohio’s tax policy agrees. Zach Schiller, research director for Policy Matters, said Ohio’s local and state taxes on businesses are already low.
“State and local taxes on businesses in Ohio are well below the national average, according to an Ernst & Young study conducted for the Council on State Taxation, a group that lobbies for state taxes for large corporations. The study notes that in fiscal year 2020, the average state and local business taxes per employee were $4,800 in Ohio, compared to a national average of $6,500.)”, a said Schiller.
Schiller said the chamber should commit to ensuring companies pay their fair share so we can support education and workforce training programs, as well as meet our myriad other needs. .
Rick Carfagna, a former Republican lawmaker from Ohio who is now senior vice president of government affairs for the Ohio House, said the Ohio Legislature has taken some steps to improve the climate for affairs of state by reducing regulations and bureaucracy.
Carfagna said there was more to do. But he said the new plan contains many recommendations that don’t require new programs or big changes.
“We don’t have to reinvent the wheel on these things, but we have to monitor them and make sure they’re calibrated to do what we want,” Carfagna said.