Legislator's visit sparks discussion

Feb 19, 2014

Legislator's talk at HeidelbergAs President Rob Huntington opened a formal discussion with national, state and local legislators, he offered this thought: “We are all deep into pulling the community together … business sectors, government and higher education. There are a lot of forces coming together now.”

That’s why Monday’s discussion about the business and economic climate in Ohio was so relevant. Those gathered in Herbster Chapel heard from Congressman Jim Jordan, Ohio Senate President Keith Faber and Tiffin Mayor Aaron Montz, with a special appearance by Ohio Supreme Court Justice Judith French about ways government is indeed coming together to improve the business climate in the state.

From his GOP perspective, Jordan outlined five policy areas that he believes will make business growth conducive not only in Ohio but across the country: provide an alternative to Obamacare; improve the tax code; offer a comprehensive energy policy; promote welfare reform legislation; and address privacy issues.

It is incumbent upon the GOP, Jordan said, to lay out its vision for change. “The uncertainty around Obamacare is huge,” Jordan said. “In spite of the government, we’ve still got business growth, but we can’t find enough people to hire.” His five-point vision would address the health-care issue, among other problems, he added.

In his remarks, Faber focused on progress and success since Republicans assumed leadership of the State Senate, saying job creation and business growth opportunities are the priority for the Ohio Senate. By reducing government spending 15 percent across the board and eliminating the estate tax, among other measures, the state’s budget surplus has climbed from 89 cents to $1.5 billion.

“By doing the right thing, we have passed through to Ohioans $2.7 million in tax cuts,” Faber said. “All together, Ohio is doing better.”

Under his leadership, the state has made progress in overhauling regulatory codes harmful to business growth, he said.

Faber had a message for Heidelberg students: “Your future needs to be in Ohio. There is a wonderful tradition of education here. I really believe Ohio is providing the same opportunities for my kids as those who came before me did for me.”

Montz, the ‘Berg alum who is Tiffin’s youngest mayor, continued the positive theme of progress. “There are a lot of very good things going on in Tiffin. We are a lot further along than two years ago,” he said.

When he took office, Montz said the city was essentially broke and not sure there were funds to make the next payroll. With fiscal changes at City Hall – such as having city employees contribute to their health care and cutting back on overtime – the city has experienced a $2.4 million surplus, business growth, job creation and a decrease in crime.

In the future, Montz expects to continue to increase staffing levels of the city’s safety forces. “We’ve worked together to get where we are today. We have the proper people in place for the first time in a long time,” said Montz, who is a frequent user of social media to communicate with his constituents.

“I want to be in touch. I want to have my finger on the pulse of the community. I think that’s been lacking in the past,” he added.

From French, the campus community got a lesson in the workings of the Ohio Supreme Court. A mid-term appointee to fill the seat of a retiring justice, sitting on the state’s highest court “is a dream job for me.”

Of the 1,600 cases presented to the court, justices accept approximately 100, choosing those that will have the most wide-ranging impact in the state. “It’s important for you to know how well you are served,” French said, adding that hearings are orderly and thorough and conducted openly and professionally.

“Just as I have been proud (to serve), if you could see from behind the scenes, you would be proud as well.”

The legislators’ discussion was sponsored by the Heidelberg School of Business and the Academic Enhancement Committee.