Along with Senator George Voinovich, I introduced a bipartisan jobs bill last week.
Actually, if you read our bill, you won't see the word jobs, even though that's what this bill is all about. What we are attempting to do is reverse a federal court decision in which Ohio's ability to use certain tax breaks to either attract new industry or help existing industry expand was thrown out.
The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Ohio's investment tax credit, which businesses have used to make $34 billion in new equipment investments in our state since 1995. When Sen. Voinovich served as governor, he used the tax credit to help convince DaimlerChrysler to build its Jeep plant in Toledo. A company spokesman said earlier this year that the tax credit was "critical" in its decision to expand its Toledo operations.
The court's decision only affects those states in its jurisdiction--Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee. So while Ohio, for the time being, cannot use this credit, other states outside the court's jurisdiction can, putting us at a disadvantage. Competition from overseas, rising health care costs and other issues already are making it tough enough for employers in Ohio. We certainly don't need the added burden this court decision represents.
As Sen. Voinovich pointed out when we announced our bill last week, "States should be allowed to use these growth tools, and states should be allowed to compete for new business and jobs. The winners will be the working men and women who are looking for a job."
Despite the complexities involved, the effect of our bill is simple. We are just seeking to override the 2004 court ruling that I mentioned earlier, and make it clear that states may provide tax incentives for economic development if they so desire.
The bill has bi-partisan support and is co-sponsored by all the Senators in the states affected by the Sixth Circuit court ruling. Here in the House, more than 30 Democrats and Republicans have joined me in backing out legislation. It's also supported by a broad coalition of business, industry, labor and government officials.
We'll begin the task of attempting to move the bill through the House this week, when a pair of Judiciary subcommittees, one chaired by Ohio Congressman Steve Chabot, hold a joint hearing to examine the Sixth Circuit court's decision and how states are being hurt by it. I'm hoping that as more Members of the House are made aware of the ruling, and made aware of the fact that other courts could rule the same way on similar cases affecting their states, they'll join me in working to overturn the original decision.