By Dennis Hetzel, Executive Director
Gov. Kasich did not agree to ONA’s request for a line-item veto of a provision in the massive state budget that gives substantial new authority to local governmental bodies to go into executive session to discuss economic development matters. This is no big surprise.
It could have been worse, as we were able to improve the language substantially from its initial version, which was totally open-ended. There now are only specific aspects that can be discussed, and the vote must be unanimous by board members in attendance. Still, reporters will certainly be covering more meetings with greater secrecy in the near future.
I don’t think the governor would have been any more likely to veto the initial version, so I am glad we worked to make this as good as we could. As in the case of JobsOhio, this represents a genuine disagreement between the ONA and our current political leaders on the importance of transparency in relation to other objectives.
Time will tell if this new secrecy leads to abuse or corruption. I hope journalists will check the unproven assumption offered by the local government lobbyists that greater secrecy will somehow lead to more local economic development.
Regarding changes that can affect all Ohio businesses, this update from the Ohio State Chamber of Commerce does a good job of summarizing. Changes in the Commercial Activity Tax (CAT) will affect Ohio businesses with revenue of $1 million or more. Some ONA members will benefit from new tax cuts for small businesses, and, as I’m sure you are aware, the state income tax is being reduced.
The local government lobbyists also managed to bottle up a bill to reform Ohio’s worst-in-America process for local taxation and collection over concerns over short-term revenue losses to some municipalities. Had this become law, it would have saved time and money for probably every ONA member. The battle likely will resume this fall.
As always, let us know if you have any questions.