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GCP Supports Port of Cleveland and Tri-C Ballot Issues, Opposes Questionable Drug Pricing Measure

CLEVELAND, September 22, 2017 – Members of the Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP) recently voted to endorse a renewal of the Port of Cleveland’s .13 mill operating levy.  The levy, on the ballot this November, costs a homeowner $3.50 for every $100,000 of home value, making it one of the smallest tax levies in Cuyahoga County.

GCP member companies actively support commerce generated through the Port and utilize its services.  Levy funds support maintenance of lakefront docks, the Cuyahoga River navigation channel, and other maritime activities.  Specific projects related to the initiative include the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve and the Irish Town Bend stabilization efforts (an initiative the GCP supported in the 2015 state capital bill).

"Thousands of jobs exist because of the Port of Cleveland maritime activity," said Debbie Read, Managing Partner/CEO of Thompson Hine and GCP Board Member.  "Partnerships formed between the Port and the Greater Cleveland business community have led to billions in overall economic impact to the region and generated millions in state and local taxes.  The Port leverages the resources it receives and it plays a critical role in Cleveland's lakefront development."

The GCP backs the Port of Cleveland because a stable, strong Port drives growth and opportunity.  Ample resources are also necessary to ensure tomorrow’s economy and workforce remain equally strong, leading the GCP to take a formal position on the Cuyahoga Community College’s (Tri-C) election day bond issue.

The GCP Board decided to support a .5 mill bond issue – that will generate $227 million in funding – to support new Tri-C facilities and facility upgrades across all campuses.  This issue would annually cost $17.50 for every $100,000 of home value.  If approved, the capital bond would be in addition to the college’s two operating levies.

A skilled workforce and talent attraction strategy are key drivers of the GCP’s work.  Cuyahoga Community College’s plan will aid the school and the region in:

Building a 15,000-square foot addition to the Advanced Technology Training Center for manufacturing and engineering programs.
The expansion of the Transportation, Distribution & Logistics Academy to provide offerings in supply chain, logistics, diesel technology, warehousing and distribution.
An expansion of the Automotive Technology program at the Western Campus.
College-wide laboratory renovations, specifically those used in programs that provide credentials and training for some of the region’s fastest growing industries: engineering, medical technology, nursing, pharmacy, radiology and respiratory therapy.
“Investing in facilities, technologies, and the education of our youth – particularly in high-demand industries – is not an aspiration in today’s economy, it is a necessity,” said Joe Roman, President/CEO of the Greater Cleveland Partnership.  “Tri-C graduates live and work in Northeast Ohio.  Retaining those skills and keeping that talent in Cleveland is a key ingredient, building upon the momentum our region is experiencing.”

Tri-C was recently ranked number one in Ohio and in the top twenty nationally among two-year institutions in awarding associate degrees across all disciplines.   

Separate from the aforementioned local ballot issues, the GCP board also voted to oppose a statewide ballot proposal that would change how state of Ohio purchases prescription drugs.  The proposed initiated statute, Issue 2, would attempt to prohibit the state from purchasing a prescription drug unless the net cost of the drug is equal to or less than the lowest price paid for the drug by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.  Unfortunately, it is highly unlikely the proposal could be implemented or be able to achieve its purpose.  Issue 2 is vague and lacks certain definitions, meaning it is questionable how differing entities and state agencies would choose to implement it. 

The GCP – and more than 60 other organizations ranging from the Ohio Hospital Association to The American Legion – are extremely concerned the proposal will lead to cost shifting and drive up prices for employers, their employees, and even increase the cost for veterans.  The Act would not apply to the approximately 7 million Ohioans who use private insurance or other coverage.  Moreover, one provision in Issue 2 would give the four co-sponsors of the issue an unprecedented right to intervene – at taxpayer expense – in any post-election legal challenges to the law.  State taxpayers would be on the hook to pay attorneys' fees and expenses, as well as any bills incurred by the Attorney General in litigating the matter. 

While Issue 2 appears to be well-intended, it is a big risk in a volatile health care environment.