Jeff Barnett / Lantern photographer
U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers called for cuts in spending during his visit to Ohio State Tuesday to tour the Center for Automotive Research and meet with university officials.
Stivers, a freshman Republican representing Columbus, echoed President Barack Obama’s calls in his second State of the Union Address for investment in education, infrastructure and technology, but also emphasized job creation and curtailing government spending.
“The problem is, the government is not making investments,” Stivers said. “We’re spending money on current expenditures. Education is one of those things that I think is partially an investment.”
Stivers and many Congressional republicans are pushing for $100 billion in cuts to the federal budget, and he acknowledges they will be painful. But the goal, he said, is to spread the cuts across enough programs so as to not have a crushing effect on any one group.
“I think if you ask these people if the programs they want the money for are important enough to take money away from their kids and grandkids, most people would say no,” he said.
OSU is facing cuts in both federal and state funding, as Gov. John Kasich attempts to balance a budget with an expected $8 billion gap.
Stivers, who received his MBA from OSU in 1996, said funding for state colleges comes mostly from the state, tuition and private endowments. But reapportioning money from other sources, such as the Workforce Development Training Fund, can overcome effects of the cuts.
“That’s federal money that we could infuse into colleges because colleges and universities do create workforce training,” Stivers said. “I think there are things we can do to create opportunity even though we’re going to be cutting back.”
Stivers toured OSU’s Center for Automotive Research, which he said is proof that investments in research and education can lead to job creation, citing CAR’s research into battery technology, electric motorcycle racing program, the EcoCar and the Buckeye Bullet, the world’s fastest electric car.
“There’s a real opportunity to take that research and turn it into jobs,” Stivers said. “The things they’re doing are going to keep Ohio at the forefront of auto manufacturing in the future.”
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, said in a Jan. 25 conference call that the state’s automotive industry produces the second most vehicles of any state and fuels Ohio’s gross domestic product.
“There is not a corner of this state that doesn’t have a company making components for automobiles likely to go into Chrysler or GM cars,” Brown said.
Brown said innovations in automobile manufacturing and green technology will create “21st century jobs in Ohio, that will stay in Ohio.”
Sean C. Ewing is the leader of the Buckeye Electric Motorcycle Racing Team at CAR, and agrees the work he does there is going to improve Ohio’s manufacturing economy.
“We’re breaking grounds on new technologies on a daily basis,” said Ewing, a fourth-year in electrical and computer engineering. “It shouldn’t have any problem boosting jobs at all.”
Stivers said jobs based on the kind of innovative research at CAR will transform the economy from one based on labor to information, and that businesses will lead the way.
“We recognize that the jobs of the future aren’t going to be created by government,” Stivers said.
Stivers said the uncertain economic climate resulting from the 2008 recession has led businesses to save revenues instead of using them to expand operations and create more jobs. Lowering corporate tax rates and easing government regulations, he said, will embolden businesses to withdraw some of those funds.
“We want to give them a chance to actually use that money they’re sitting on to create jobs,” Stivers said.