Excerpts of recent editorials of statewide and national interest from Ohio newspapers:
The Lima News, Dec. 10
It is not often you see Republicans and Democrats patting each other on the back for imposing new regulations that will hurt business. It's even rarer to see state Rep. Matt Huffman, R-Lima, being proud he led such a charge.
Of course, the businesses involved are the more than 800 sweepstakes parlors that have been multiplying like rabbits across the state and are ripe for corruption. Attorney General Mike DeWine calls the parlors a nest for "hard-core gambling," noting they are nothing more than consumer rip-offs and storefronts that harbor money laundering and other illegal activities.
Under the new legislation, no new sweepstake parlor can open until June 30, 2013. This six-month waiting period will give lawmakers more time to fix potential problems.
The House bill passed by a 2-to-1 margin,... with 60 of the state's 90 representatives voting for the ban. It quickly moved through the Senate and was passed with an emergency clause, meaning it will be effective immediately upon the governor's signature.
It was the correct course to take, but not an easy course.
Recent weeks saw furious rounds of complicated backroom negotiations that almost resulted in a patchwork of regulations that would have kept the parlors open....
The world of gambling now embraced by Ohio has brought about an entirely new age of governing. It's one filled with an entirely new set of complications, frustrations, determination, and in this case, lots of closely enforced regulations.
The (Toledo) Blade, Dec. 10
Ohio has one of the top high-school graduation rates in the nation for white students, but one of the lowest for African Americans. The racial gap — fourth largest among the states — must be closed.
Across Ohio, 80 percent of high school students get a diploma, according to the U.S. Department of Education. But 85 percent of white students graduate, while only 59 percent of their black classmates join them at commencement.
Poor students in Ohio also have a harder time making it through school: Only 65 percent complete high school....
Federal data also tracked the graduation rates of other minorities, students with disabilities, and non-native English speakers. The 2010-11 school year was the first in which states used common, more-rigorous criteria to count graduates....
Life doesn't get easier for black high school graduates who want to go to college. Federal data show that black college students — especially males — are less likely to finish their undergraduate degree than their white peers. Recent data suggest that fewer than half of black students who enter college receive a degree, compared to more than 60 percent of white students....
Students who don't finish high school are condemned to low-paying jobs with few benefits and little hope of advancement. When one race is disproportionately represented among nongraduates, the result is economic segregation....
High-quality education and high graduation rates are necessary to compete in the global economy, attract businesses, and create good jobs. Ohio can't afford to leave any group behind.
The (Canton) Repository, Dec. 5
Did you know that Ohio is the only state that allows individual municipalities to set their own guidelines when it comes to tax codes? That means Canton can have a different set of rules for what is considered taxable income than, say, Massillon or North Canton.
That's an unnecessary mess for businesses that operate in different parts of the state, which face different rules — and more administrative costs navigating those rules — every direction they look.
Give credit to the state Legislature ... for considering House Bill 601, which would create uniform rules for taxation across Ohio.
Finally, the state would be in line with the other 49. That's a good thing for businesses.
Of course, the problem with a one-size-fits-all solution ... is that size isn't particularly flattering on some.
It's of no surprise that the plan doesn't fly with Canton Mayor William J. Healy III or Massillon Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry. The bill co-sponsors are Republicans; the mayors are Democrats.
The mayors (are) suggesting that it's a favor to special interests instead of a solution to the different sets of rules in Ohio municipalities. One of their points — well taken — is that Ohio's municipalities, in light of plenty of cuts in local government funding, are scratching for every penny. This bill likely would change that revenue stream yet again.
A uniform tax code would be great for this state — hallelujah for a pro-business climate — but here's hoping the Republicans in the Legislature listen to Democrats' concerns. Further gutting our local governments is not the way to get there.
Akron Beacon Journal, Dec. 9
The employment report from the Labor Department, issued Friday morning, reinforced the importance of Congress and the White House managing well the looming collection of budget challenges, known as the "fiscal cliff." President Obama indicated that the matter could be resolved rather quickly. He is right in theory. The trick will be setting the priorities in a sound order....
Today, there are 4 million fewer jobs than when the recession began in late 2007. Two-fifths of the unemployed have been seeking work for 27 weeks or longer. The previous high for this figure during the past 60 years was 26 percent in June 1983....
All of this points, again, to the type of recession the country suffered, one featuring the collapse of a financial bubble. These downturns almost always involve a long, slow recovery, as people repair their finances and seek to restore their assets.
For Congress and the White House, the first priority must be to do no harm to the fragile recovery. The Congressional Budget Office has warned that a failure to ease the approaching tax increases and spending reductions would likely the send the economy into another recession....
The country doesn't face something as dramatic as a steep cliff at the end of the month. The impact would be gradual, allowing room for negotiation into the new year. Yet the psychology is crucial, Washington taking command, more or less.