Yes, Virginia, not all state governors are equally bright. In fact, Virginia, some governors can’t see the future clearly because their heads are stuck so far up their fundamental ideology that what should be a no-brainer turns into a brainer.

Case in point, what makes a state attractive to business? Ohio’s term-limited chief executive, John Kasich, seems oblivious to the fact that when companies shop states, factors like taxes, utilities, labor force and location become decision points in their site selection process. But so do other factors, like whether the social climate is right for the company’s managers and employees and their families.

Mr. Kasich campaigned on a promise to create lots of jobs, but he has fallen short 47 out of 48 months from even meeting the national job creation average. He boasted on the presidential campaign trail this year that he learned how business works during his half-dozen years working as a Wall Street banker for Lehman Brothers, the storied Wall Street banking house whose collapse triggered the national economic calamity now known as the Great Recession. While at Lehman Brothers, John Kasich befriended fellow Lehmanite John Minor. When citizen Kasich took over as state chief executive 2010, his first bill was to create a private agency responsible for bringing jobs to the state. He installed Mr. Minor, who’s drawing hundreds of thousands in salary, in charge of it.

For all his talk about know how business works, what Gov. Kasich doesn’t see clearly is the toll his record of signing into law 18 bills that hurt or harm access women have to their constitutionally guaranteed right to health care, including abortion if that’s their choice, has on business attraction.

Yes, pro-growth policies can boost the image of Ohio as a place for business, but that image can be equally blackened by bad bills that create a counter social landscape reflective of lawmakers who don’t understand that the message a state sends to companies on how their female employees and family members will be treated is as potent as their tax rates and regulatory stances.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe knows that as he just schooled Gov. Kasich in the fine art of image building. In stark contrast to Gov. Kasich signing into law a 20-week ban on abortions in the lame-duck session just ended, Gov. McAuliffe warned his Republican lawmakers that he would veto similar legislation banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy if it were to arrive on his desk.

Whereas Ohio’s governor signed the bill behind closed doors, saying nothing about it when he did, Virginia’s chief executive called such a bill a “socially divisive” proposal that hurts the state’s image, the AP reported.

In Virginia as in Ohio, Republican legislators see the election of Donald Trump as a sign to push forward with more harmful measures aimed at limiting a woman’s access to certain health decisions. Their calculus is that Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans will add an extreme justice to the Supreme Court who will side with court conservatives and one day overturn Roe v Wade, the 1973 case that made access to abortion a constitutional right.

McAuliffe, a Democrat, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he wanted to send a clear message to the Republican-controlled General Assembly not to “waste time” trying to be part of that effort. McAuliffe said he doesn’t normally comment on proposed legislation until after it passes both chambers, but he needed to make clear to companies looking to invest in Virginia that the legislation had no hope of passage.

“I can’t sit back and have that sitting out the same time I am traveling the globe recruiting businesses to Virginia,” McAuliffe said as he prepared to go on an important recruiting trip this weekend, the AP reported. “If there’s something that would be damaging toward business, and to our image around the country and the globe, I’ll veto it, you bet I will.”

The AP reports that another state that doesn’t get it is ready to follow Gov. Kasich’s lead. Kentucky Republicans will introduce a 20-week abortion ban, along with a requirement that women undergo ultrasounds before having abortions. Like Ohio, Kentucky Republicans enjoy overwhelming House and Senate majorities and control of the governor’s office, so similar bills are considered likely to pass.

Gov. Kasich crows that he talks to CEOs every day, but what would he say to a female CEO who asked him about the social climate in Ohio?  He would be hard pressed to find a good explanation about why she should subject herself and her female employees and family members to the harsh anti-choice measures the governor has allowed to become law.

It’s no secret that CEOs like to play one state against another to get the best deal. If she said she could get as good or a better deal from Virginia or another state on tax incentives or labor training programs or rail or road improvements, but said her decision would be based on which state offers a friendly family climate conducive to her company’s workers, what would Gov. Kasich say?

If John Kasich wants to make Ohio great again he should stop signing bad bills into law and follow Gov. McAuliffe’s lead of warning his legislature not to send him more bills that give the state’s image a black eye.

 

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