The Ohio Organizing Collaborative (OOC) has begun what it calls the “Fighting for Ohio Jobs Campaign,” demanding higher taxes as union front One Ohio Now has done since January of 2011. OOC, a liberal community organizing group, seems convinced that government spending creates jobs, announcing in a press release, “Our past investments in public structures, industries and innovation built an America and a state where opportunity was available to everyone.” However, the facts paint a different picture of Ohio’s overgrown government and the taxes necessary to sustain it.
A Tax Foundation paper published in January of 2012 ranked Ohio’s business tax climate 39th of the 50 states. Based on another Tax Foundation study, Ohio had the nation’s 18th-highest state and local tax burden as of 2009, the most recent year for which data are available. From 2002 through 2006 — all years when Bob Taft (R) was governor — Ohio’s state and local tax burden was among the ten-highest in the country, rising as high as 7th in 2005.
In a policy brief issued just last month, the Buckeye Institute, a free-market Ohio think tank, debunked claims by One Ohio Now and other union groups that higher government spending creates a sound economy. The Buckeye Institute brief included the following spending graph and explanation:
Over the past two decades, government spending in Ohio has grown far faster than private sector growth. From 1990 to 2009, Ohio state spending outpaced inflation by 41 percent. During that same time, per capita income growth in Ohio averaged only 3.4 percent, tying for 6th lowest in the nation. The end result was a spending burden that grew from 20.74 percent of Ohio’s private-sector economy in 1992 to 26.30 percent in 2009.
Figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics support assertions from the Buckeye Institute and Tax Foundation that high taxes and big government negatively impact Ohio’s economy. From January of 2002 to January of 2011, Ohio shed 225,538 jobs. One Ohio Now was created by labor unions in January of 2011, demanding a “balanced” approach of tax hikes to sustain Ohio’s failed status quo.
OOC executive director Kirk Noden has worked as a community organizer in Chicago and England, and was paid $78,932 by the Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative in 2010. Noden is a board member for the left-wing research group Policy Matters Ohio and for the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio (COHHIO).
The Ohio Organizing Collaborative, Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative, Policy Matters Ohio, and COHHIO are all partners of One Ohio Now, a coalition of unions and union front groups including ProgressOhio, Ohio AFL-CIO, AFSCME Council 8, Ohio Education Association, Communications Workers of America, and Ohio Voice.
Given the success of We Are Ohio’s emotion-driven referendum against government union reform in 2011, OOC is likely to use the same tactics for its years-long Fighting for Ohio Jobs Campaign. While increasing taxes to maintain high government spending may benefit union bosses, Ohio’s history is one of big government (and unions) driving jobs out of the state.