Hamilton Journal News

Ohio’s strategy needs to be more than ‘talk, talk ...’

- Thomas Suddes is an adjunct assistant professor at Ohio University. Previously, he was a veteran Statehouse reporter for The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer.

Talking up Ohio’s pluses, as Gov. Mike DeWine wants to do — albeit at a possible cost of $50 million — isn’t a bad idea. Trouble is, even with Ohio’s distinctio­ns, its leaders have some explaining to do.

Such as:

■ Why Ohio incomes, on a per capita basis, lag the nation’s.

■ Why, in a nation made digital-first by COVID-19, Ohio continues to futz around about statewide broadband access. Talk, talk, talk: That’s Ohio’s broadband “strategy.”

■ Why Ohio’s purportedl­y liberal Democratic Party has yet to elect a Black Ohioan to a statewide executive elected office. (Democrats did nominate and help elect Ohio Supreme Court Justice Melody Stewart, a Greater Cleveland Democrat.)

But Republican­s nominated Ohio’s first elected Black statewide executive officehold­er, Cincinnati’s J. Kenneth Blackwell, who was state treasurer, then secretary of state, then the GOP’s 2006 nominee for governor.. Moreover, Republican Gov. James A. Rhodes appointed, and voters subsequent­ly elected, the Ohio Supreme Court’s first black justice, the late Robert M. Duncan.

■ Why Ohio’s purportedl­y conservati­ve Republican Party, defenders of the Constituti­on, are forever trying to roll back a woman’s right to decide if, and when, she will bear a child.

■ How Ohio realistica­lly can lure California­ns and New Yorkers to move to Ohio. Example: Two years ago, the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that per capita personal income in the New York-New Jersey metropolit­an area was $79,844. In the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim metropolit­an area, it was $66,854.

But per capita personal income in the Cincinnati metropolit­an area was $56,033. In the Cleveland metropolit­an area, it was $55,451. In the Columbus metropolit­an area, $52,477 — and in the Dayton metropolit­an area, $49,161.

Inevitable counter-argument: Taxes are killing New Yorkers and California­ns, and scaring off businesses. But according to the U.S. Regional Economic Analysis Project, per capita personal income in New York in 2019 was $71,717; in California,

$66,619; in Ohio, $50,199 — and, nationwide, in all 50 states, it was $56,490.

Then comes what’s supposed to be the ultimate, unbeatable argument for why people should leave Manhattan and Beverly Hills for suburban Ohio: “Your dollar goes further in Ohio.”

Actually, it doesn’t go very far at all.

You send dollars to the electric company and the insurance company, a few counties away.

The electric company and insurance company pay Statehouse lobbyists to … persuade … Ohio politician­s to boost your electric rates or make it harder for you to win a personal-injury lawsuit — a perpetual motion machine that strip-mines your checkbook.

As Ohio attraction­s go, the State Fair’s butter cow and Saturdays in Ohio Stadium are decent lures.

But they can’t hide the fact that, yeah, sure, some people in Ohio are making money — but you may not be one of them.

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