Excerpts of recent editorials of statewide and national interest from Ohio newspapers:
The Columbus Dispatch, Jan. 28
No one disputes that the nation's ongoing recovery from the recession that began in late 2007 is the most sluggish since the Great Depression. The question of what's causing the sluggishness and what should be done about it, though, highlights a deep ideological divide among Americans and their leaders.
Richard Vedder, professor emeritus of economics at Ohio University, makes a compelling argument that the anemic growth of the U.S. economy in recent years is a result of, instead of a justification for, expanded government aid in the form of food stamps, extended unemployment benefits and Social Security disability payments.
Writing in the The Wall Street Journal recently, Vedder said that this type of government support has made it more attractive not to work, which has led to a drop in the percentage of Americans in the work force and an attendant decline in economic output....
A number of other economists, including ones who have gone on to work for President Barack Obama, have noted a link between unemployment benefits and a disincentive to work....
Meanwhile, Congress just renewed the "emergency" unemployment benefits extension for another year as part of the New Year's "fiscal cliff" deal, and federal-government policies in recent years seem aimed specifically at expanding, not paring, programs such as food stamps.
Government has no magic powers to instantly heal the economy. But policies that create disincentives to work and therefore inhibit growth can have the opposite effect.
Warren Chronicle Tribune, Jan. 28
Ohioans who believe they can rely on criminal background checks to warn them against hiring dangerous employees may be wrong. In fact, the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation is, in effect, lying about some ex-convicts' records — because state law requires it.
A complex bill the General Assembly enacted last summer is to blame. Sometimes referred to as Senate Bill 337, the measure deals with a wide variety of criminal law issues. Part of it is intended to ensure that former criminals who have paid their debts to society are able to get jobs once they leave prison.
But state officials have interpreted part of the law involving sealing of criminal records to mean that when employers do background checks on potential new hires, they are not to be told the whole truth in some cases.
That has Attorney General Mike DeWine concerned. He has discovered 24 situations in which potential harm could have resulted from less-than-candid responses by the BCI to background check requests....
Pitfalls in the new law are obvious — and should have been when legislators were considering the bill. As DeWine points out, the flaws could put some people in danger.
Legislators should take another look at the law and rescind parts of it that could result in dangerous ex-convicts being hired for jobs they have no business holding.
The Cincinnati Enquirer, Jan. 25
When Ohio school board president Debe Terhar referred to Adolf Hitler in a Facebook post on gun control, it was just the latest unfortunate use of the Hitler analogy.
References to Hitler in public debate are usually counter-productive, unless the speaker intends a comparison to someone who was directly responsible for the deaths of millions of his own people and the near-ruin of an entire continent.
Neither of those applies to today's important debate over gun control. Nor do they apply to the debate over union laws. That was the context in which Sen. Sherrod Brown threw the Hitler verbal bomb in March 2011, during the Senate Bill 5 debate over collective bargaining. He later apologized for the reference.
Playing the Hitler card obscures the real issues, stifles debate and plays to emotions. If we want to have a genuine debate over gun control and guns in schools (which, presumably, the state school board president would want to be part of) let's stick to the facts and leave emotion and demagoguery out of it.
The Enquirer encourages civility in public dialogue. We'll flag instances of uncivility and applaud examples of constructive debate.
The (Findlay) Courier, Jan. 28
Ohio school administrators say they won't rely on state casino revenues to balance their budgets.
That is a wise approach, considering their cut of gamblers' wagers at the state's casinos will never make up for state funding already taken away.
It was announced earlier this month the first round of casino school funding will total $38 million. That sounds significant, but, when divided among the state's 1.8 million students, it comes to about $21 per child....
The Ohio Association of School Business Officials, Buckeye Association of School Administrators, and the Ohio School Boards Association surveyed school officials and found the new funds will not exceed 2 percent of any district's budget. For most schools, it's less than 1 percent....
Districts have lost significant funding with the elimination of federal stimulus funds and the reduction in replacement funds for local tangible personal property taxes no longer collected....
Some remember a lesson from the '70s, when the public was led to believe playing state lottery games would provide significant funding for our schools.
At first, a share of the game proceeds did go to education, but then the state ended up counting the lottery money toward its portion of the funding for public education, which resulted in no increase for schools.
Some suspect the same could happen with the casino money, depending on how Gov. John Kasich reworks the school funding formula later this month....
For now, the better approach would be to use caution. Any money schools get from gambling may best be set aside for a rainy day. Counting on it for much more than that is a bad bet.