Last week, The Blade published a two-part series that suggested a link between business employees’ donations to my campaign and state incentives given those businesses (“Connection or Coincidence? Political cash and development dollars in Ohio”).
While I take issue with the series’ conclusion, I am most troubled by what was missing from the articles: any information about whether the incentives worked.
I know they worked, especially in northwest Ohio.
In 2012, the Brookings Institution ranked Toledo No. 5 nationally among metropolitan areas with the largest share of clean-economy jobs. The study also singled out Cleveland, Youngstown, Dayton, and Cincinnati for their contributions to a clean economy. Napoleon was just named America’s No. 1 solar small town.
Your series correctly noted that I am an ardent supporter of green energy and highlighted — again — that Willard & Kelsey Solar Group defaulted on state loans. The series failed, however, to note the role incentives played in making Toledo a global leader in solar power.
In addition to incentives, businesses across Ohio have benefited from a landmark energy law that I view among my top achievements. It has protected business and residential customers from the huge rate spikes seen in other states.
By guaranteeing businesses affordable power at a stable price, the law allows Ohio-based firms to compete better globally. Its requirement that utilities gradually increase energy efficiency has created market demand for new products.
FirstEnergy Corp. — traditionally a major source of campaign money — vigorously opposed this high-profile energy law. Your series listed the utility as a major donor, but did not mention that opposition or its continuing efforts to gut the law.
An effort to link campaign cash to state incentives needs to show that those incentives were not warranted and did not help the economy. Your series also needed to explain why — according to your own research — most firms that received incentives made no political donations at all. The Blade failed those tests.
Editor’s note: The writer was governor of Ohio from 2007 to 2011.