Republican Prudes Hold Down Ohio’s Economy

In the past few weeks, it’s come out that Gov. John Kasich’s supposedly jobs-obsessed administration is letting 120 jobs leave Ohio for neighboring Kentucky instead of supporting the jobs through tax credits.

Sep 18, 2013 at 9:25 am

In the past few weeks, it’s come out that Gov. John Kasich’s supposedly jobs-obsessed administration is letting 120 jobs leave Ohio for neighboring Kentucky instead of supporting the jobs through tax credits.

The official reason: The company, Pure Romance, isn’t part of an industry that’s typically targeted with tax credits, such as biotech, energy or logistics.

The reason suspected by many and revealed by emails between the city and state governments: Kasich’s Republican administration is too prudish to give tax credits to a company whose product lineup includes sex toys, even if the company is worth more than $100 million.

Pure Romance was originally planning on moving from its Loveland headquarters to downtown Cincinnati. The company estimated the move would have brought 60 jobs to Cincinnati and created another 60 for the next several years, at an average salary of $65,000 a year. To show its support, Cincinnati agreed to give Pure Romance $353,000 in tax breaks. All the state had to do was provide another $108,000.

But the state denied the request, and now Pure Romance looks ready to accept better offers from Covington, Ky.

Kasich’s defenders have backed the state government’s decision by mocking Pure Romance’s business, typically with sarcastic comments about dildos and vibrators. Nevermind the jobs and economic growth; instead of focusing on that, critics have decided to ridicule the products that support Pure Romance’s employees.

But the state government should support Pure Romance’s jobs, even if it means giving a little tax credit to dildos and vibrators. It doesn’t matter who or what the tax credits please as long as the subsidy efficiently produces jobs without supporting dangerous or illegal activity.

In an economy that’s still far from full employment and potential growth, no one — not the city, state or federal government — should be obnoxiously picky about what creates jobs. The state’s goal should be to improve the economy, not ensure that someone’s Judeo-Christian sensibilities are left untainted.

Perhaps the saddest part about the whole ordeal is the hypocrisy behind the rejection. The same people mocking Pure Romance’s business and supporting the Kasich administration’s decision are the same family-values conservatives that vocally abhor anything that they think could break up a marriage or family. But one of the most common pieces of advice given by marriage counselors to struggling couples is to maintain a strong, healthy sex life by keeping romance in the bedroom surprising. That’s exactly what Pure Romance helps married couples achieve, as its CEO has repeatedly pointed out to media outlets. By rejecting Pure Romance, the state’s bedroom-focused Republicans are ironically sending the wrong message to married couples who might just want to make things work.

Given the potential, the Kasich administration should actually take up its alleged focus on jobs and approve Pure Romance’s tax credits. Less “dildos and vibrators, LOL!” and more “120 jobs kept in Ohio,” please.

Other News and Stuff

• In other tax credit news, Kasich had to stop his own administration — and JobsOhio — from becoming even more secretive. On Sept. 16, Kasich reversed the Ohio Development Services Agency’s (ODSA) decision to classify tax credit estimates as “trade secrets,” which would have barred the estimates from public records requests. The estimates are often used by JobsOhio to gauge whether a business truly deserves a tax break, but ODSA said the numbers might be wrong and misleading in the long term. Kasich, perhaps a little wiser from the amount of attention JobsOhio’s secretive nature has received in the past few months, apparently disagreed.

• Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine approved language for a ballot initiative that would force Ohio to expand Medicaid. Under Obamacare, the federal government is asking states to expand Medicaid to include anyone at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level; if states accept, the federal government will pay for the entire expansion through 2016 then phase its payments down to an indefinite 90 percent. Kasich has been a strong proponent of the expansion, but Republican legislators have so far rejected his support, which is now leading Medicaid advocates to take their own action. Supporters must now gather enough signatures to place the initiative on the 2014 ballot.

• Following the Sept. 10 mayoral primary’s dismal voter turnout of 5.68 percent, the Charter Committee announced it is endorsing mayoral election reform. The primary cost Cincinnati $400,000 and only confirmed what everyone already knew: Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls and ex-Councilman John Cranley will face off for the mayor’s office in November.

CONTACT GERMAN LOPEZ: [email protected] or @germanrlopez