By The Associated Press
Cleveland Plain Dealer. June 4, 2023.
Editorial: The Statehouse con on selling Issue 1 in the Aug. 8 election, exposed
There are many, many things wrong with how the GOP supermajority in the Ohio legislature is trying to ram through a hugely consequential constitutional amendment during a likely low-turnout August vote — an election costing $20 million to hold.
Our editorial board has already noted three strikes against what’s now titled Issue 1 on the Aug. 8 ballot: It upends more than a century of precedent on when to hold votes on major constitutional amendments; the ballot language is misleading and inaccurate; and the legality of the Aug. 8 election itself is questionable, at best.
Now, add a deceptive marketing campaign for Issue 1, as outlined at a recent high-level GOP lobbying meeting, details of which cleveland.com reporter Andrew J. Tobias confirmed with two participants.
What happened at the closed-door May 31 meeting at the Columbus Athletic Club, attended by about 50 high-rolling lobbyists and called by Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman, reveals a strategy of misdirection, not truth.
The two attendees described to Tobias how Issue 1 backers plan to use a $6 million TV ad campaign to pretend the GOP’s attempt to make the Ohio Constitution exponentially more difficult to amend is to counter supposed out-of-state influence — when it’s really to defeat a reproductive rights ballot issue in November.
But the subterfuge is even deeper, given the double standards Issue 1 backers also plan to use to ensure that anti-abortion voters and gun-rights supporters turn out to vote Aug. 8, without saying “abortions” or “guns” in pro-Issue 1 ads. The solution: Let anti-abortion and gun-rights groups handle the special promotions needed to get these voters to the polls.
The irony is rich, since the only reason these groups would be energized to vote “Yes” on Issue 1 is because they see that citizen anger over the Ohio legislature’s efforts to criminalize reproductive health care has already led to a citizen-initiated abortion-rights amendment, and they fear that the legislature’s slavering support of guns means the same may happen with gun reform.
It’s a useful reminder of what citizens are being asked to give up through Issue 1 – the rights they’ve had since 1912 to use citizen-initiated amendments that need only get a majority of voters’ support to rein in Statehouse corruption and pay-to-play.
Which is also why backers of Issue 1 in the May 31 meeting reportedly urged proponents not to lean in on the 60% voting threshold the issue would require.
“‘You don’t say abortion. You don’t say 60%. You don’t bring up social issues that divide even Republicans. The focus will be on protecting the constitution from special interests,’ said one person with knowledge of the event, describing the presentation,” Tobias reported.
Backers of Issue 1 count on their ability to raise big money fast. There are now just 65 days until Aug. 8.
But to be forewarned is to be forearmed, as they say. Ohio voters who oppose this travesty should do everything they can to counter the deceit and manipulation by exercising their constitutional right as citizens to vote.
There will be only one issue on the Aug. 8 ballot — State Issue 1. Every Ohio voter will have the right to vote on this issue, either in person on Aug. 8, at their assigned polling places, or early, in-person at their local county Board of Elections, or absentee by mail, or by dropping off their vote-by-mail ballot at their local vote board’s ballot drop box.
The deadline to register to vote in the Aug. 8 election is Monday July 10. Ohio’s new photo voter ID election law limits what identification can be used to vote, so plan accordingly.
Early, in-person voting at your county Board of Elections starts July 11. That’s also the day vote boards will start mailing out vote-by-mail ballots. In today’s Plain Dealer, you will find a vote-by-mail application. Don’t delay. Fill it out and mail it in (be sure to use enough postage) or deliver it in person to your Board of Elections.
Vote-by-mail applications will be accepted until Aug. 1, at 8:30 p.m., but election boards warn to submit well before this deadline to allow enough time to receive the ballot by mail, then mail it back in. Ohio’s new election law, which eliminated in-person voting on the Monday before Election Day, also narrowed the window when a mailed ballot can be received at the vote board to count.
Ohioans, don’t be manipulated and misled. Do what it takes to vote Aug. 8.
Toledo Blade. June 1, 2023.
Editorial: Huge fee necessary
When it comes to East Coast garbage, Ohio is now and long has been “the heart of it all.” The $4.75 per-ton tipping fee in Ohio is way below the cost to dump on the coast, so for more than a generation trains loaded with out-of-state waste have been bound for Ohio. Now, because of strong opposition from Fostoria over the unwanted freight shipped to Sunny Farms Landfill, the only constitutionally acceptable remedy is up for debate at the Ohio Statehouse.
Sen. Bill Reineke (R., Tiffin) proposes (“Proposal would increase trash fees to discourage out-of-state waste,” Tuesday) a 79 percent increase in Ohio’s tipping fee to $8.50 per-ton. Interstate commerce protections in the U.S. Constitution allow for no other way to make Ohio landfills less attractive to East Coast garbage haulers. Ohio cannot discriminate between in-state and out-of-state waste with different prices.
This isn’t the first time state lawmakers serving districts outraged over the ill-effects of out-of-state waste have proposed a big price hike to eliminate the financial advantage of dumping in Ohio.
Much of the debris from the 9-11 attack on New York City is buried in northeast Ohio. Just as in Fostoria, nearby residents objected and efforts began to close the gap between Ohio waste disposal fees and nearby East Coast states.
Obviously that did not happen. To keep out-of-state waste from being shipped to Ohio, citizens are going to have to pay a much bigger garbage disposal fee. Ultimately, a 79 percent increase in landfill fees will not be absorbed by local governments or private haulers. Residents generating the waste will have to pay the $56 million cost.
Ohio’s way low tipping fee hasn’t increased since 1992 so there’s a good case to be made for an increase. Moreover, being too cheap has turned Ohio into a garbage magnet, to the consternation of citizens who live nearby.
Normally a huge increase in any government fee is evidence of overreach and is ripe to be pruned to a more reasonable number. But in this instance, only a huge increase in the waste disposal tipping fee will bring costs in Ohio to parity with East Coast states when the shipping costs are included.
It is all or nothing regarding a change in Ohio’s waste disposal fees. While it is hard to advocate for a vast increase in fees (“Landfill or trash bill – either one must expand,” July 28, 2022), it is the only way to end the avalanche of East Coast garbage. This is worth paying for.
Youngstown Vindicator. June 4, 2023.
Editorial: Set high benchmarks for private schools participating in Ohio voucher program
The state’s school funding situation that more than two decades ago was declared unconstitutional by Ohio’s Supreme Court remains unresolved today for the state’s public school districts.
It was March 24, 1997, when the state’s top court ruled in the DeRolph v. State of Ohio case, declaring the state’s method of funding public education unconstitutional.
On the surface, Ohio’s school voucher program may seem like a good way to overcome this challenge — and indeed it might be. But we believe there are questions that should be answered.
Under the education policy initiative, public tax dollars may be rerouted from public schools to private schools in the form of vouchers. The plan is intended to insert competition into the “educational marketplace.”
Sen. Sandra O’Brien, R-Lenox, who represents northeast Ohio, including Trumbull, Geauga and Ashtabula counties, is a sponsor of the Parent Educational Freedom Act, Senate Bill 11, which she argues will offer the best educational opportunity for students of both public and private schools because it gives parents a right to choose the school that best fits their child’s needs.
If passed, the bill will provide $5,500 per year for students in grades K-8 and $7,500 per year for students in grades 9-12.
That’s the same amount currently provided through Ohio’s existing Ed Choice Scholarship Program, but it would expand the program to all students in Ohio.
Of course, many local public educators speak adamantly against the idea, arguing the playing fields are not level between public and private schools.
For instance, private schools often are not held to the same educational standards as public schools. Additionally, private schools have no financial accountability to taxpayers and are free to accept or deny admittance to students as they choose, including basing such decisions on gender, religion, sexuality and / or academic ability. They also may reject admissions to students with special needs.
These are all issues that deserve answers.
Whether Ohio families have the right to direct state school spending to the schools they want their children to attend, and whether that spending is unconstitutionally crossing a line into state support of religious education are questions that also deserve more legal exploration.
Now, a lawsuit is pending in Franklin County Common Pleas Court contending that Ohio is constitutionally obligated to fund one system of “common” schools and has no authority to give taxpayer dollars to private schools. It asks for a permanent injunction blocking the spending of state money on vouchers.
An op-ed written by LaBrae School District Superintendent A.J. Calderone and published earlier this year in this newspaper raised logical questions about the proposed voucher program. LaBrae is a party in the Vouchers Hurt Ohio lawsuit.
Just a few of Calderone’s sound questions included: Will private schools be subject to the same levels of accountability as local public schools? Are private school teachers properly certified at the same level as public schools? Will taxpayer funds flowing to private schools be subject to audits? Is the achievement of students taking the voucher better than their public school counterparts?
We understand both sides to this issue, and appreciate the passion that has been demonstrated in opposing viewpoints being offered. Ultimately, though, we believe both sides truly want the same end goal — fair and equitable school funding for every Ohio student undeniably entitled to equally good education.
So, with that in mind, we ask this: Why can’t state legislators and educators come together to establish state benchmarks that must be achieved for any private school that wants to be eligible to accept tax dollars in the form of educational vouchers?
Create new rules and guidelines, including raising the bar and setting new requirements much like the guidelines that govern our public school districts.
Rather than continuing to battle in court (at taxpayer expense where the biggest winners are simply the attorneys), why not put our differences aside and come to the table to find a way to settle this important issue with guidelines and benchmarks.
Such a solution would guarantee that all of Ohio’s kids are the real winners.
Elyria Chronicle-Telegram. June 2, 2023.
Editorial: Diapers, guns and taxes
From diapers needed in the cradle to firearms that could put people prematurely in the grave, Ohio lawmakers appear to be in a sales-tax-cutting mood.
One bill, which would eliminate sales taxes on diapers and other necessary child-care items such as car seats, strollers and cribs, passed the Ohio Senate Wednesday with bipartisan support.
It now moves to the Ohio House for consideration, although Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, has discussed adding the measure to the state budget lawmakers are working on.
If the bill becomes law, it would save parents between $23.4 million and $38.6 million in 2024 alone. It would, however, reduce state tax revenue by the same amount. That money goes toward funding state and local government.
Despite the loss in government income, it would be a worthy investment given how expensive raising children can be.
In an analysis of U.S. Department of Agriculture data last year, the Brookings Institution estimated that it costs more than $310,000 to raise a child from infancy to age 18. With the rising cost of getting by, that number will only grow in the coming years.
Rich or poor, all parents need diapers and the other items covered in the bill to care for their young children.
On the other end of the spectrum is a bill introduced by state Sen. Tim Schaffer, R-Lancaster, that would exempt firearms and ammunition from state sales tax. (Schaffer also was the primary sponsor of the bill that would do away with sales tax on items for young children.)
“This is the least we can do to make owning a firearm for self-defense, hunting, and sport more affordable for the average Ohioan,” Schaffer said in a statement to The Columbus Dispatch.
State Rep. Al Cutrona, R-Canfield, another backer of the bill, said eliminating sales taxes on guns and ammo would help keep sales in Ohio.
Cutrona estimated that scrapping sales taxes on guns and ammo would cost the state between $15 million and $20 million annually, The Dispatch reported.
While doing away with sales taxes for child-care items makes sense because parents simply can’t go without them, that’s not the case with firearms and ammunition. People can and do survive without them, however much some gun advocates might insist that owning weapons is the only way to keep oneself safe.
Eliminating sales tax for firearms and ammunition is only one portion of Schaffer’s bill. It also would offer up tax and other incentives designed to lure gun manufacturers to Ohio.
Whatever one’s views on guns are, there’s something to be said for trying to bring businesses to the state. It’s a discussion at least worth having, although it should be noted that Ohio has already proved itself adept at persuading businesses to relocate here. (See Intel’s $20 billion chip-manufacturing project outside Columbus.)
In any event, the proposed sales-tax cuts swirling around the Statehouse do raise the question of how far lawmakers are willing to go to eliminate sales taxes on various items and how that will affect the state’s overall budget. There’s also the question of the downstream impact of such cuts on municipalities, schools, libraries and other local entities that rely in part on funding from the state.
Over the years, Ohio has been slowly chipping away at what sales tax is charged on, and it has mostly been to the good. For instance, the state rightly stopped charging sales tax on feminine hygiene products in April 2020.
Ohio lawmakers are fond of pointing out that the state government is flush right now. However, that money will last only so long, and sooner or later some economic crisis will strike, necessitating the state to dip into its cash balances and reserves.
Moreover, Republicans are eager to slash state income taxes. Some cuts will likely end up in the budget working its way through Columbus.
That’s part of a broader GOP goal of eventually eliminating the state income tax altogether, but Republicans haven’t committed to a way to replace the lost revenue if they are successful. One plausible option, which would hurt most those least able to afford it, is raising the sales tax.
The more sales-tax exemptions enacted, the higher such an increase likely would need to be to offset the loss of income-tax revenue.
That’s something that should worry Ohioans of every age.
Sandusky Register. June 1, 2023.
Editorial: Where’s the leadership?
In spurts and with some setbacks, the hope for humanity is that, over time, it evolves and becomes better. That is our true history. We evolve and become better. At some point, enlightened humans realized that “all men are created equal.” Sometime after that, women were granted the right to vote, and those who openly espoused racist beliefs or exhibited racist behavior were greatly silenced.
We still have a long way to go, certainly, and that is evident with the rise of antisemitism, political race-baiting and dog-whistling occurring in the political arena, in our social circles and at social media. Good people must be prepared to reject this ignorance wherever and whenever it shows up in our lives.
The spurts and setbacks are nowhere more apparent than in the names we give our sports franchises. American Indians, Indigenous people, have complained for decades about the disrespect that’s shown in racist logos and racist names that were chosen so many years ago, at a time when it wasn’t so clear they were offensive.
Professional sports teams — most notably, the Cleveland Guardians of the MLB and the Washington Commanders in the NFL — bowed to pressure to stop being offensive with racist names and become something different. The world did not end. The franchises maintained their value. Fewer people were offended by their former racist names and logos. That is, we’re sure, a good thing.
Colleges, including Miami University and Stanford, similarly, switched out racist mascots for more appealing, non-offensive names. We’re sure that’s a good thing too.
For area high schools, it’s a bit more complicated. Families have for generations rooted for teams that have racist names. There’s a push and pull happening that keeps the Bellevue and Port Clinton school districts — and other public school districts in Ohio and across the country — clinging to mascots and logos that are offensive, the one true statement in all of the back-and-forth of it.
From non-scientific polling and from competing petitions to keep or to kick racist logos, it seems that, right now, there is just as much support for nostalgia and holding onto the past as there is for simply making a change and evolving. That is the point, in our view, where leadership from school board members is needed. Nothing is easy, rarely anyway, that is worth accomplishing.
The suggestion it would be “too expensive” to rebrand to change out racist names, to stop being offensive to whole groups of people, is simply an unacceptable reason. It’s time for leadership in those districts that maintain racist themes at their schools.