Underreported: Kasich rejects efforts to hire more Ohio firms

In the recent flurry of legislation passed by the Ohio General Assembly, little noticed was an intriguing public policy statement by the Kasich administration.

The Ohio Senate inserted a provision into HB487, the state’s mid-biennium budget legislation, aimed at ensuring the State was spending taxpayer money on Ohio companies whenever possible.

On June 11, Governor Kasich vetoed the measure.

The language in question (read here & here) required State agencies to gather information from out-of-state vendors about the share of its workforce and suppliers on a state contract that are based in Ohio. It further asked agencies to follow up with Ohio firms to see why they didn’t pursue state work before inking a deal with a non-Ohio firm.

As justification for his veto, Kasich claimed the measure was burdensome and would drive up the State’s cost of purchasing. However, the nonpartisan Legislative Services Commission disagreed, stating in their analysis that the increased cost to agencies would be  “negligible.”

Legislators, frustrated by continued failures by state agencies to spend state tax dollars to employ Ohioans, not only amended the budget bill, but spoke up at the June 11 meeting of the Controlling Board–the same day as Kasich’s veto–chastising administration officials for not trying harder to “Buy Ohio”:

Sen. Chris Widener (R-Springfield) said at a Controlling Board meeting that Senate Republicans on the panel will be more reluctant to support contracts with non-Ohio firms in the future, saying the use of Ohio-based businesses is a key way to improve the state’s economy.

While he recognized two agencies – the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Youth Services – for using more Ohio firms, he said other departments seem to be reluctant to focus on in-state firms.

Lawmaker Pushes Agency Officials For More Use Of Ohio-Based Firms,” Gongwer Report, June 11, 2012

And it’s no wonder the administration doesn’t like legislative attempts to encourage in-state purchasing. At the same June 11 meeting, the majority of contracts state agencies asked Controlling Board to approve–21 of 39–involved an out of state firm.