ODJFS Must Share Job Subsidy Data
Posted October 11, 2005 in Press Releases
The Dayton Daily News
Ohio's Department of Jobs and Family Services (ODJFS) has been making every excuse imaginable to justify its refusal to identify employers that have large numbers of workers on the public-assistance rolls.
The reasons should lead the public to wonder whether the department is purposefully hiding information or has just adopted the bureaucratic, low-energy attitude that afflicts too many pubic agencies.
The department recently turned down a public-records request made by Policy Matters Ohio, a liberal-leaning think tank from Cleveland. Specifically, the request sought records from which a person could learn "the number, by employer, of person (including children and adults for each case) receiving public benefits." These are records one would expect the state to have at hand. Why? The information could help lawmakers measure the performance of major policy initiatives.
Ohio has aggressively pursued welfare reform. It touts the shift of hundreds of thousands of Ohioans from welfare to work. Are major employers, in effect, shifting responsibility for basic benefits to the state? The answer would suggest a lot about the long-term prospects for welfare-to-work initiatives.
What's more, government health insurance and food programs operate as a kind of subsidy for employers who pay low wages and offer little or no benefits. The programs enable their workers to "get by." Arguably, these employers shouldn't be eligible for other kinds of state assistance, such as tax breaks or economic development aid. But policy makers can't make informed decisions without information of the kind being requested by ODJFS.
Many states routinely report employers that have the greatest number of employees on public assistance. Sometimes the facts are unexpected