The oil and gas boom has brought in lots of activity to eastern Ohio and perhaps lots of out of state workers. Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler reports says that’s a problem for the governor.
Gov. John Kasich has joked several times about the people he wants to see working with the oil and gas industry in Ohio, including in his State of the State speech in February.
KASICH: “And with the energy companies I told them, we don’t want foreigners working on our well heads, those are people from West Virginia, Indiana, Michigan and Oklahoma, okay? We want Ohioans on the well head.”
But Kasich now says he’s concerned that out of state employees are being brought in to work with the drillers.
KASICH: “So you could have the situation where we are not getting the jobs, they are taking the resources and all of their profits and they're heading home. That is not acceptable to me. Now we don’t have the conclusive evidence that this is happening yet. But I want you to know, and I want all of the companies to know, that this is an extremely serious matter. And we expect them to be responsive to the people of this state.”
Tom Stewart is the executive vice president of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association. He says the oil and gas companies have invested over $3 billion in Ohio, and because they’re moving quickly, they need to bring in workers who can handle the jobs right away.
STEWART: “You’re talking about an industry that is reaching the pinnacle of technological advances in oil and gas. It’s equivalent to drilling oil and gas wells in the Gulf of Mexico. You just don’t hire people that have had two weeks of training and put them on this rig. You hire people that are equipped and ready to do this kind of job, and you get them from where they can be supplied to.”
And Stewart says Ohioans are building hotels, restaurants and other businesses to serve the workers with the oil and gas drillers -- so those companies are stimulating the state’s economy.
STEWART: “The economic multiplier is creating jobs far, far beyond what we’re registering just today. We need to encourage people. We need to quit talking about investigating that.”
Kasich has proposed an increase in the severance tax that oil and gas drillers would pay to the state, which the industry has strongly opposed.