Ohio must improve but not at the expense of taxpayers

On the eve of Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s State of the State address Tuesday, One Ohio Now issued its annual report “How Does Ohio Measure Up?” The progressive-leaning group acknowledged Ohio has made some improvements, but still has much work to do.

Numbers used in the report are, indeed, startling. It continues to boggle the mind that Ohio’s infant mortality rate is INCREASING, for example. The Buckeye State now ranks 42nd in the nation when it comes to infant mortality; 40th in hunger; 43rd in home foreclosure; 49th in overdose deaths; 44th in unemployment … the unsettling numbers go on and on.

Even the few bright spots in the report leave a great deal of room for improvement — 16th in health insurance; 24th in high school graduation; 16th in job growth (an interesting contrast to the unemployment figure).

Certainly the report is filled with information that, though it is all likely already available to DeWine, will be helpful to him and lawmakers.

But, as is often the case with such reports, the solution offered is predictable: Spend more money. The code word for it in this report is “invest,” but the idea is the same. One wonders where Ohio is expected to find the money to spend.

“Ohio can gain the needed revenue by closing unnecessary tax loopholes, modernizing our tax code, and raising income tax and business tax rates on those with the greatest ability to pay,” the report says.

Ah. There it is. Over and over, the report says the SOLUTION to each problem examined is “the state should invest,” “the solution is more investment,” “through continued state investments in …”

Perhaps the authors of the report can be given the benefit of the doubt in that “investment” can be of resources other than money. And yes, of course, investment in our future is necessary.

But the cycle in which Ohioans find themselves makes it very difficult to simply squeeze more money out of them. Solutions must include cultural and societal adjustments, willingness to look for strategies that work — not just shiny new trends that cost more money.