For sake of businesses, State Auditor Dave Yost warns government to be careful when changing policies

Mary Yost

Insights on how government impacts the economy.

State Auditor Dave Yost's job is to keep Ohio government agencies accountable as they spend taxpayer dollars. But that doesn't keep him from contemplating issues such as how business is impacted by government. Observations he shared recently withColumbus CEO highlight areas where government gets in the way of business.

"Sometimes government fails to think about how its policy decisions impact the basic building blocks of business-energy, capital, risk management and labor," Yost says, adding, "Anything government does that makes these building blocks less available, less reliable or less affordable slows the economy."

He cites loss of a driver's license for reasons unrelated to driving, such as nonpayment of child support, as a policy with unintended negative business consequences. "When you consider that most of Ohio is not served by mass transit, the loss of a driver's license sharply limits that person's work options, tightening an already tight labor market," Yost says.

Changing public policy without thinking through all implications is another area where government can end up hurting business, Yost says.

Once a public policy is established "and people make decisions about their lives and their money in reliance on it, government ought to be slow to change it," Yost says, even if it is not ideal.

Yost refrains from suggesting the private sector follow government to ensure accountability and fiscal soundness.

"Government by its nature limits liberty and is designed to go slow when exercising its power.Business needs speed to adapt to market conditions," Yost says. Instead, businesses can rely on their "built-in accountability mechanism: the customer, who can go anywhere she wants."

(Note: Editor Mary Yost is not related to State Auditor Dave Yost.)