Governor Kasich Announces Mid-Biennium Review Legislation

HRACO Magazine

On March 14, 2012, Governor John Kasich released an overview of a series of initiatives that will be included in the Mid-Biennium Review(MBR) Capital Budget bill. Late in the day on Friday, March 16, the Ohio House of Representatives introduced HB487, which will serve as the legislative vehicle for the MBR. The collective series of initiatives contained within the bill is titled “Transforming Ohio for Growth”, and include changes to education, workforce development, energy, capital improvements, bank tax reforms, government management efficiencies, and various levels of tax cuts. Many of the provisions contained in the MBR will directly and indirectly impact the Human Resources profession in Ohio. While there may be reforms that improve government interaction with certain industries in the 2,833 page bill, several of the primary provisions affecting the HR profession are summarized below.

Income Tax Cut

As amounts of crude oil and natural gas liquids produced by the high volume horizontal wells developing across Ohio continue to increase, the amount of severance tax revenue is expected to increase correspondingly. Instead of the state retaining the increased tax revenue, the Kasich Administration is proposing the return of all new revenue to Ohioans in the form of income tax breaks in each of Ohio’s nine tax brackets. The state estimates between $900million to$1 billion in total income tax cuts when Ohio reaches peak production over the next five years. The Kasich Administration has identified Ohio’s high income taxes as a barrier to job creation and the state’s economic recovery. Lower tax liability means employees are able to keep more money in their pocket and provides HR professionals an edge in attracting and retaining a talented workforce when competing with compensation packages and state taxes of employers in surrounding states.

Workforce Development

The new initiatives proposed by the Kasich Administration are centered on matching employer demand with workforce training. Gov. Kasich recently created the Office of Workforce Transformation(OWT) to coordinate and consolidate the myriad of workforce training resources throughout the state. Under HB487, the OWT is tasked with developing a website for both employers and workers to find opportunities that best suit their respective needs. The new website will be partnered with the existing OhioMeansJobs.comwebsitetomatchemployersandjobseekers.WhetheryouareanHRprofessional wearing many hats in a small business or working in a multinational corporation, you have an opportunity to educate lawmakers and help the state develop a resource that is useful in seeking qualified individuals to meet your workforce demands.

One method of providing feedback is through the proposed revamping of the Governor’s Executive Workforce Board. HB487 proposes to put more teeth into this Board by allowing it to develop a unified budget and new set of performance management metrics for the entire workforce development system.

Many HR professionals and employers have dedicated countless hours to local and state workforce boards over the last decade, some with success and others frustrated by the process. The goal of this initiative is to better align programs and increase access for both employers and jobseekers. HR professionals are at the center of this new vision for Ohio’s workforce development system. You are the ones making daily hiring decisions based on the pool of qualified candidates in Ohio’s workforce. A workforce development system that facilitates and streamlines your task of identifying the right candidate with the right skills, training and experience will certainly be a step in the right direction.

As for those jobseekers that are currently unemployed, HB 487 contains a provision called “Learn to Earn.” Under this initiative, unemployment insurance (UI) claimants will have the opportunity to train with an employer to increase their skills while retaining UI eligibility. This initiative would allow an employer to bring a UI claimant into a shortterm on the job training program to determine if there is the potential for long term employment.

Two additional important workforce development initiatives in HB 487 focus on creating job opportunities for people with developmental disabilities and veterans returning home from deployment. The Ohio Employment First initiative will create a task force to align state policies with the goal of promoting meaningful employment opportunities for people with developmental disabilities. The second initiative tasks the Office of Workforce Transformation to work with veterans tomatch their unique skills and special training with civilian world jobs.

Future Workforce Focus

While existing human resources are critical for successful Ohio employers today, it is equally as important to focus on the workforce slated to enter the job markets of the future. Several education initiatives in HB 487 focus on preparing students for current and future workforce challenges. A large portion of this focus is on accurately assessing whether Ohio parents, educators, and policymakers are doing a good job of structuring education to ensure that students are on track to successful completion of their high school education. To that end, there are initiatives regarding the assessment of early childhood development, a new school performance measuring system, more flexibility for teacher evaluation, and new standards for dropout recovery schools.

So, what can you do to help? The program that HR professionals can have the most immediate impact on involves making Career Connections. This initiative seeks to expose students to careers available in Ohio, in addition to helping them make the connection between school lessons and a job in the 'real world'. Ideally, such experiences early on will help students make educated choices on courses, training or higher education needed to achieve the career of their choice.

You, as HR professionals, have the opportunity to shape the way legislative proposals will impact your business before they become law. The Ohio House will likely complete hearings on HB487 during March, and the Ohio Senate will likely begin hearings in late April. Your voice is important in shaping the way state government interacts with Ohio employers. The health of Ohio companies is largely based on supply and demand for goods and services. But, HR professionals play a critical role in selecting the workforce that drives those Ohio companies,from the front line operator on the shop floor to the chief executive officer. As the state goes through the process of revamping policies sure to affect the workforce of the future it is up to us to do our part to make sure legislative leaders and the Kasich Administration know exactly how to help you improve the business climate and strengthen Ohio's economy. Go to to find out how to contact your lawmakers and the Governor’s office.