Do you know how government is spending your money? Do you think that has anything to do with job creation? I certainly do, and I want you to know why.

Last fall, the two comments I heard from residents most often were “focus on jobs” and “reduce government spending.” That’s exactly what I’ve worked on in my first six months in the legislature.

I was the primary sponsor of House Bill 1, which created JobsOhio and passed with bipartisan support in both chambers, including a majority of Democrats in the Ohio Senate. As the bill number implies, HB1 was the first measure we pursued, reflecting the priority we place on job creation.

JobsOhio’s board now includes some of the state’s most respected civic and business leaders, including Gordon Gee, president of The Ohio State University, and Bob McDonald, CEO of Procter & Gamble, a company that ranked 5th in Fortune Magazine’s “Most Admired Companies” list for 2011.

Once the state’s transition to JobsOhio is implemented, Ohio will benefit from the flexibility to respond quickly to the demands of national and international economies. This speed and flexibility means more jobs for Ohioans, and that definitely is a good thing.

Here in Ohio, we have an aggregate tax burden (state and local) that is higher than many peer states and therefore hurts our job growth. Simply put, this tax burden makes Ohio less competitive.

Worse, our per capita income has been steadily dropping relative to the other 49 states over the past several decades. This makes the burden of individual taxpayers all the more difficult.

Finally, there is Ohio’s lost decade. From 2001 to the end of 2010, Ohio lost more than 600,000 jobs, many of them to our Midwestern neighbors in Indiana, Michigan and Kentucky.

Nevertheless, we can’t just cut taxes alone. We have a variety of important, even critical, services that tax revenue provides: Medicaid, public education, higher education, police and safety services, parks and recreation, to name a few. These are not just services, but also factors in job growth, as several of these services relate to the overall quality of life and attractiveness of our state.

So how do we reduce Ohio’s tax burden without sacrificing these vital public services? The answer is greater efficiency, reduced waste and a more focused mission. We need to do more with less.

And this is how governmental spending relates to job growth. By increasing our efficiency, we can reduce spending, reduce taxes and increase job growth. It’s a win-win as they say, but it’s certainly not as easy as it sounds. It takes creative ideas to improve our efficiency.

Fortunately, the Ohio House is making an effort to do more with less. Here are just two examples:

House Bill 2 – we can save significant money by auditing our state agencies. HB2—which I cosponsored—requires the Auditor of State to conduct performance audits on a biennial basis. In 2005, the state of Washington identified more than $4 billion in waste, and I believe that examining Ohio’s agencies has the potential to provide similar savings. The companion bill to this legislation was signed in April and is now law.

House Bill 66 – The Ohio House also took a crucial step by creating a fraud and abuse reporting system through which public employees and citizens can anonymously report misuse of taxpayer dollars. I was proud to cosponsor this bill, which extends whistle-blower protections to state employees who issue a complaint through this system. According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, 50 percent of government fraud is discovered through tips.

The bottom line is that every dollar counts. If we can make our government leaner and more effective without compromising the high-quality services that our citizens rely on, it is important that we do so. House Bills 2 and 66 are common-sense concepts that will provide much-needed government transparency at a time when accountability is more important than ever.

As we seek to produce job growth in Ohio, it’s important to remember the connection between our overall efficiency as a state, our aggregate tax burden and our attractiveness for new jobs.

If you have ideas on how to reinvent the State of Ohio, please send me an email, write me a letter or call my office. I can be reached at, State Representative Mike Duffey, 77 South High Street, 13th Floor, Columbus, Ohio 43215 or 614.644.6030.


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