A message from Michael Harlow, Ohio State Director, ReadyNation
It was a pleasure to meet many of you at Winter Conference. There were great conversations at our table, during the speed sponsorship, and at meals and during presentations. It was an all-around positive experience which lays the groundwork for future engagements. I look forward to seeing you at upcoming events and meeting other Chamber executives. We were excited to add seven chamber executives as ReadyNation members!
ReadyNation, as you know, is a network of business executives committed to building a skilled workforce by promoting solutions that prepare children to succeed in education, work, and life. We leverage the experience, influence, and expertise of over 2,000 business executives to promote public policies and programs that build a stronger workforce and economy. Since 2006, our members have made a bottom-line case for effective, bipartisan investments in children as the future workforce that will drive success in the global marketplace. Members receive the latest information and opportunities to use their voices to support evidence-based policies that benefit at-risk kids.
Opportunities abound in Ohio with Governor DeWine’s proposed operating budget bill, now being considered by the legislature. The governor has proposed significant increases in investments in publicly funded child care and increasing initial eligibility for parents earning up to 150% of the Federal Poverty Level. Right now, Ohio is the second-hardest state in the nation to find quality, affordable child care. Notably, these funds would come from federal block grants, not your state tax dollars.
As employers, we know finding quality and consistent child care is a real obstacle for many in our workforce. It can keep people out of the workforce and also prevent them from taking on larger roles in the organization, hampering productivity. ReadyNation’s new study examining the economic impacts of the nation’s child care crisis on working parents, employers, and taxpayers describes an annual cost of $57 billion in lost earnings, productivity, and revenue.
Additionally, Gov. DeWine’s proposed budget called for increases in K-12 funding, primarily by increasing funding for student support services. As the Cleveland PlainDealer described it, “(t)he goal is to free up teachers to do more teaching, and help students go to class better prepared through linkages with mental health counseling, mentoring, after-school programs and other resources.”
As this budget winds through the legislature, I will be connecting with ReadyNation membership to engage with legislators about these important budget priorities. If you would like to participate, please let me know. If you would like to be added to our ReadyNation network, please join here.
An important side note: the operating budget calls for no increase to sales or income taxes. It relies on Ohio’s economic growth to increase revenues, as well as increased federal funds which often come in the form of block grants. Many areas of state government received funding freezes or reductions. By law, the operating budget is always separate from Ohio’s transportation budget, which funds roads and bridges, and for which a gasoline tax increase is called for. The Ohio Business Roundtable has endorsed the gasoline tax hike. ReadyNation is not taking a position on the gas tax.
Thank you for your interest in workforce issues. I look forward to seeing you at a CCE Ohio summer event.