Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Economic Stimulus Package Unveiled

This morning, AICUO and roughly 60 other stakeholder representatives were invited to attend an informational session at the governor’s Cabinet Room in his Statehouse office. The meeting was led by the governor’s policy director, Janetta King, and the House of Representatives’ budget director, Ray DiRossi, with special appearances by the Governor and Lt. Governor.

The news was significant. Just today, the Governor, Speaker, and the Senate President announced an agreement on the Governor’s Building Ohio Jobs Bond Initiative. As outlined in February’s State of the State address, Governor Strickland’s original proposal called for a $1.7 billion bond package to assist Ohio create at least 80,000 new jobs in five years. The legislative leadership balked at this initial number, and expressed concern that the bonds would inappropriately burden the state with further debt. After voicing their opposition, talks began to find a compromise the “big three” could agree on.

What resulted from the talks was a plan to borrow only $400 million and rely on other funding sources, including future general-revenue fund transfers, Ohio Turnpike excess revenue, and Ohio Tobacco Prevention funds. While the initial proposal was intended to be on the November ballot, the new plan will only “ballotize” the $400 million Clean Ohio programs. The rest will be appropriated by the legislature.

Over the next few weeks or months, legislative action will set guidelines for distribution. Higher education institutions are able to apply for all areas within the program, but there is a specific carve-out for colleges and universities under the Higher Education Workforce Development Initiative. This program offers $50 million per year over five years to retain college-educated citizens by “linking them with good internships, cooperative education programs, and jobs while they earn their degrees.” This initiative is a match-proposal, calling for the private sector stakeholders to invest in their future employment.

Additional information is available from
today's Columbus Dispatch.

- Dustin A. Holfinger