“State Rep. Roland Winburn, D-Harrison Twp., introduced legislation this week that would strengthen the state’s ‘Buy Ohio’ provision in an effort to steer more state government spending to Ohio companies.
“The bill would allow state agencies to give preference to an Ohio company if its bid on a public project came in no more than 10 percent greater than an out-of-state bidder and it can demonstrate that the contract would create or retain Ohio jobs.
‘”Our tax dollars should be putting Ohioans back to work,’ Winburn said. ‘We must work to ensure that we are investing right back into our local economies and not handing state funds over to out-of-state or overseas companies.’
“’Ohioans are willing and able to take on these jobs and do this work and we must give them the opportunities to do so,’ said Rep. Winburn. ‘Ensuring preference to Ohio businesses helps to support and protect middle class Ohioans, and rebuild our economy.’
“The state’s current Buy Ohio provision gives neighboring states, except West Virginia, the same preference as Ohio companies, in return for the same treatment in those states for Ohio companies. State officials say those agreements rely on all involved states maintaining similar preference provisions.
“A recent state analysis found Ohio gets more than it gives: Kentucky, Michigan and New York spend more than $770 million a year with 471 Ohio companies, while Ohio spends $249 million on a total of 876 companies in those three states combined.
“Winburn said he hopes that issue can be addressed in committee.
“…the Dayton Daily News reported that more than $791 million in large Ohio government contracts have gone to out-of-state companies since January 2009, often without giving Ohio firms a chance to compete for them.
“The newspaper’s analysis found that of the 168 out-of-state contracts that went before the state controlling board for approval this year, to date, 128 included waivers of competitive bidding. This means $54.5 million of the $89 million that left the state in large contracts this year did so without getting bids from a single in-state firm.
“Winburn’s bill was part of a larger effort by Ohio House Democrats announced in February that also included limiting outsourcing for state-funded projects and only allowing the privatization of state property or functions if the work goes to an Ohio entity. Neither of these measures have moved out of committee in the GOP-controlled House.
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