Editorial Roundup: Ohio

Toledo Blade. May 13, 2024.

Editorial: State deficit no surprise

Ohio’s tax collections are running behind budget projections by nearly a half billion dollars, and state officials are surprised.

Income taxes are 5.5 percent under estimates. It’s the first time in years that Ohio has run behind income projections instead of piling up a surplus. (“Ohio’s usual tax surpluses now stubbornly in the red,” Friday.)

Ohio has a $3.7 billion rainy day fund so there is no urgency to cut the budget to restore balance to the budget. The more pressing issue is to awaken Gov. Mike DeWine and state legislative leaders to the fact that Ohio’s economy has rolled over into decline.

The explanation out of Columbus is that tax refunds were higher than expected. That certainly sounds better to voters than the data that suggests Ohio’s economy has all but stalled out.

A March report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland shows Ohio’s economy has slipped to 45th in the nation with GDP growth of just 0.5 percent from the 4th quarter of 2021 to the 3rd quarter of 2023.

The U.S. growth rate over that time was 3 percent. Ohio’s economic growth was six times less than the national average and nearly five time less than Michigan achieved.

In the highest wage component of the Ohio economy, manufacturing, growth actually fell 4.3 percent. The problem with Ohio’s budget is not driven by excessive income tax refunds, it’s driven by light income tax collections because of a stagnant economy over a two-year period.

It’s hard for state officials in the capital to notice Ohio’s overall decline because they’ve used policy changes to tilt what growth does exist in this state to Columbus. Financial resources once shared widely around the state through the Local Government Fund have been cut by nearly two-thirds since 2011.


Youngstown Vindicator. May 18, 2024.

Editorial: Appalachian money will lead to a brighter future in Valley

On May 9, Gov. Mike DeWine announced the state was investing $14.2 million into transformational economic development projects in Trumbull and Mahoning counties as part of the state’s Appalachian Community Grant Program.

In December, the Eastgate Regional Council of Governments was the lead applicant for $155.7 million worth of projects for investments in downtown and riverfront revitalization, health care and workforce development in the lake-to-river counties of Ashtabula, Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana.

So, to say the least, there was disappointment throughout the Valley when the grant amount was announced. There was hope that funds would be given for more than 40 projects spread throughout the four counties. However, only six projects in Mahoning and Trumbull counties were funded and $5.4 million was announced for projects in Ashtabula County.

To put it into perspective, there were about $2 billion worth of requests for funding through the $500 million Appalachian grant program, according to DeWine. The $14.2 million awarded to the Valley was part of more than $51 million given to 18 communities in 10 counties through Ohio’s Wonderful Waterfronts Initiative, which is part of the Appalachian grant program.

This newspaper can understand the disappointment as a major influx of additional grant money — on top of the American Rescue Plan funds that have been used to propel area projects forward since the pandemic — could have been life-changing. However, the six projects funded by the awarded money can still help the Valley take a step in the right direction as it’s a “true investment in the quality of life for people” in the region, according to Jim Kinnick, executive director of Eastgate.

All of the funded projects will bring a different element to the Valley and allow residents to improve their lifestyle by getting out and experiencing the area in a new way. For example, the $4.3 million awarded to the Mahoning Avenue Corridor Revitalization Plan will go toward a new pedestrian bridge that spans the Mahoning River from downtown Warren to Perkins Park. Burbank, Packard, Perkins and Bullhead parks will also be improved with refreshed streetscaping, new sidewalks to connect the parks and wayfinding signage.

Another $3.5 million will go toward building a boat launch in the downtown area of Niles and the final $372,746 awarded in Trumbull County will fix embankment loss on the Western Reserve Greenway bicycle trail at Baughman Creek Bridge in Bristol.

Then, in Mahoning County, three projects were funded — Lowellville Riverfront Park, Spring Commons Park and Struthers Community River Launch — that will improve areas around the Mahoning River, allowing for easier access for exercise by kayak, canoe, paddle boarding or any other river activities.

According to Struthers Mayor Catherine Cercone Miller, the funds will help improve their current kayak launch, but it will also contribute to their goal of attracting new people to the area.

“We want it to be a destination point for tourism,” she said, and we believe that should be the goal.

Funding these types of projects and improving areas around the Valley should be about attracting new people to the area, along with drawing new workers. Established companies such as Foxconn and Ultium Cells, and new companies like Kimberly-Clark and Graphite One, will be looking for new employees — and these projects can be used as a selling point.

We believe these funds will also help push projects, such as the redevelopment of the peninsula in Warren, forward. The peninsula is a piece of land along West Market Street that the Mahoning River wraps around, and it is largely vacant and prime for redevelopment.

The Mahoning Avenue River Corridor Revitalization Plan will connect the peninsula, which is set to be redeveloped for mixed-use residential, commercial and cultural, to the downtown area, making it more appealing for young professionals. So the plan is another attractive piece for the peninsula redevelopment.

So while we understand the disappointment the lack of more grant funds brings, we believe the funds that were awarded also can lead the Valley into another bright chapter, and they should be appreciated appropriately.


Elyria Chronicle-Telegram. May 18, 2024.

Editorial: Advancing in the veepstakes

Sucking up to former President Donald Trump is nothing new to JD Vance.

The Cincinnati Republican largely owes his job as Ohio’s junior U.S. senator to Trump, whose endorsement propelled him to victory in the crowded and nasty GOP primary in 2022. He went on to beat the Democratic candidate, Tim Ryan, that November.

Vance’s attempts to curry Trump’s favor were so painfully obvious that in 2022 even Trump observed that “JD is kissing my ass. He wants my support.”

Vance, who morphed from Trump critic to courtier, still craves Trump’s support. Now, though, Vance has his eyes trained on a bigger job: being Trump’s vice-presidential running mate.

Vance has said he hasn’t been asked to take the job, although he acknowledged he might be interested if Trump were to make an offer. Trump’s campaign has said that only he knows what he will do when it comes to picking a running mate.

But showing up at a New York courthouse to attack those whom Trump considers to be his enemies, as Vance did Monday, is the sort of thing that would surely appeal to the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.

Trump is facing felony charges of falsifying business records in connection with a $130,000 hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels in the runup to the 2016 election. Trump denies wrongdoing.

Given Vance’s ambitions, it really wasn’t a surprise that he joined in on the chorus complaining that Trump was being treated unfairly.

Trump is under a gag order that prevents him from attacking witnesses, jurors and the families of those involved in the trial. Trump has been held in contempt of court 10 times for violating the order and has been fined $10,000.

Threatened with jail if he commits further violations, Trump seems to have found a way around the gag order: having his allies say the things he can’t.

Vance dutifully obliged, taking potshots at the judge’s daughter and others.

“The thing that the president is prevented from saying, which is a disgrace, is that every single person involved in this prosecution is practically a Democratic political operative,” Vance said Monday.

Vance was hardly alone among Trump allies in making the pilgrimage to New York to back up Trump, who has been stuck listening to trial testimony.

Other would-be VP picks, including Ohio businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., were there Tuesday. So was House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., proof that pandering to Trump is considered good politics in today’s GOP.

Vance just recognized an opportunity to get in the mercurial Trump’s good graces earlier than most.

He can’t count on all of his rivals for the job to implode as South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem did when she acknowledged in her recent book that she had shot and killed her dog.

Others have been just as obsequious, even if they haven’t made it to New York yet.

For example, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., recently made headlines for refusing to answer the simple question of whether he would accept the results of November’s election.

His answer boiled down to that he looked forward to Trump being president again.

Such refusals to commit to accepting the outcome of the election are a key litmus test for those seeking to be Trump’s running mate.

Naturally, Vance has engaged in the same behavior. On Sunday, he said on CNN that he would accept the results if the election was “free and fair,” before saying he anticipated that Trump would win.

What goes largely unsaid in the hedging is that many Republicans seem to believe that elections are only free and fair if their side wins.

We saw that play out in the wake of Trump’s loss to Joe Biden in 2020, when Trump claimed, without evidence, that the election was stolen from him. It happened again in 2022 when various losing GOP candidates cried fraud without evidence.

If Trump loses again, we have no doubt he’ll claim the election was stolen.

As we’ve noted repeatedly, losing an election is not evidence of fraud.

Nor does Vance appear overly concerned about what happened to Trump’s last vice president, Mike Pence, whom some members of the crowd on Jan. 6, 2021, wanted to hang for his refusal to derail the certification of Biden’s win.

Some of Trump’s supporters violently stormed the U.S. Capitol that day.

Nevertheless, Vance recently said that he was “truly skeptical that Mike Pence’s life was in danger,” suggesting that the threat against Pence was exaggerated.

In fairness, Vance did say that “Jan. 6 was a bad day. It was a riot.” But he then downplayed Trump’s role by saying the then-president had told the crowd “to protest peacefully.”

Sadly, serving as Trump’s mouthpiece is the price of admission to the Republican veepstakes this year, and Vance appears more than willing to pay it.


Marietta Times. May 15, 202.

Editorial: Ohio lawmakers embarrass rest of us

If Ohio lawmakers’ aim was to once again embarrass the state on the national stage and to prove the dangers of intentionally failing to address gerrymandering, mission accomplished.

Let the back-slapping begin.

In what can only be described as either a fit of petulance or an admission they do not believe their presumptive presidential nominee can win without a few dirty tricks, state senators and representatives derailed what should have been a simple fix to get Joe Biden on the November ballot.

Recall, state law requires presidential candidates to be certified for placement on the ballot 90 days before the November election, but the Democratic National Convention falls 12 days after that deadline.

This has happened before, and Ohio lawmakers have always been willing to implement a quick exception to make the timing work.

Now they’re doing their best to make a mess of the process. Rather than make the exception a standalone vote, lawmakers are playing games by adding poison pills to the legislation, and trying to run out the clock.

“The Democrats are a superminority anyways … they don’t really have a voice. So this — this is a Republican Party issue,” David Cohen, a political science professor at The University of Akron, told The Hill. “And if it’s going to get solved, the Republican Party’s going to have to figure out how to do it.”

It is baffling to consider any reason lawmakers might have for these shameful games.

Is it because they do not want to leave the decision up to Ohio voters?

They’ve proved on more than one occasion they are not interested in the will of Buckeye State residents if it interferes with their agenda.

Is it because they believe their presumptive nominee can’t win Ohio in November unless they keep Biden off the ballot?

Are they more comfortable removing the choice?

Is it simply because they enjoy humiliating us for all the world to see?

As House Minority Leader Allison Russo, D-Upper Arlington, put it, “I think we’ve officially sunk lower than Alabama at this point.”

Yes, even Alabama was quick to unanimously pass a workaround for this same problem.

Lawmakers who believe in their party’s presumptive presidential nominee and understand their job is to work for US must abandon the power-mad political theater and figure out how to get the nominees for both parties on the ballot, without wasting another day.