Excerpts of recent editorials of statewide and national interest from Ohio newspapers:
The (Youngstown) Vindicator, March 3, 2014
An African-American baby born on the West Side of Cleveland in 2013 has less of a chance to survive his or her first year of life than an infant born in such faraway and far less developed nations as Libya, Botswana, the Gaza Strip, Thailand and Tonga.
That disheartening data, culled from the Central Intelligence Agency's World Factbook, paints a bleak picture of the crisis of infant mortality in Ohio, particularly among African Americans. Even more disturbing is that Ohio's rate ranks among the deadliest in the entire United States. The Buckeye State falls 48th in the nation in its overall infant mortality rate and 49th among African Americans.
This plague demands a concerted multipronged remedy. Fortunately for Ohioans, two state senators have stepped up to the plate to offer a set of viable tools toward decreasing our shamefully high infant-mortality rate and increasing the quantity and quality of life for our state's newest and most innocent residents.
Of course, progressive new laws can only do so much to improve the overall health of Ohio babies. Dr. Arthur James, co-director of the Ohio Department of Health's Collaborative to Prevent Infant Mortality, points out a variety of other factors that play a role in high rates of early childhood deaths....
Therefore as Ohio makes inroads toward revitalizing its economy and increasing quality of life for all, potential beneficiaries include the state's youngest and most vulnerable residents.
Kent-Ravenna Record Courier, March 3
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's budget proposal calling for scaling back the Army to pre-World War II personnel levels, closing military bases and making other cuts in spending for the military is a radical departure for the Pentagon after years of burgeoning budgets in the aftermath of the events of 9/11.
But Hagel's $496 billion budget makes sense. The days of unchecked and unchallenged military spending have to end if this nation is serious about dealing with the deficit. And, with the dual wars in Afghanistan and Iraq finally coming to a close after more than a decade of draining American resources, now is the time for a new approach to defense spending.
Hagel is the first to acknowledge that the world remains a volatile place. Unforeseen events could rachet up military spending overnight, as they did in 2001, but barring such an occurrence, America must develop a new strategy focusing on a leaner military....
Hagel's Pentagon budget calls for adequate spending for national security and the capability to wage one overseas war. While this might not be a "safe" assumption given what occurred in the aftermath of 9/11, it remains a logical blueprint for defense....
The United States isn't about to disarm itself. Our military cupboard will remain far from bare....Cutting back on defense spending in an effort to get our budget priorities back in line isn't about weakening us. It's a realization that we are entering a postwar era and adjusting our military needs accordingly.
The (Canton) Repository, Feb. 28
Should the state give Ohioans a short break from the sales tax just before the next school year starts? Absolutely.
The Ohio Senate (last) week approved a plan to suspend the sales tax for three days in early August on certain items up to certain amounts (clothing priced at up to $100, for example). The bill's fate in the House is uncertain.
The idea, which many states adopted years ago, is to help back-to-school shoppers, but it will be a welcome break in other households, too.
We understand that counties and other political subdivisions rely on state and local sales tax proceeds. They don't want that revenue stream to be dammed up, even for a couple of days. And we know it's debatable, depending on whom you ask and how you crunch the numbers, whether a short sales tax holiday actually helps the economy.
But here's why state legislators should make this gesture: They owe the people who elected them. A sales tax holiday would be a long-overdue apology of sorts....
Last year, some tax changes were thrown on the table at the very last minute and ended up in the current budget without benefit of public hearings -- even though, of course, the public pays the taxes....
The last-minute tax changes represent the loss of real money to a lot of real people in Ohio -- they aren't just lines on a spreadsheet. Come August, these Ohioans -- including parents who have been trying for months or years to find work -- will appreciate a short sales tax holiday.
The (Findlay) Courier, Feb. 27
Gov. John Kasich offered Ohioans a smorgasbord of ideas during his State of the State speech (last week) in Medina.
While most of the proposals are likely to be incorporated into Kasich's upcoming 2014 supplemental budget plan, legislators could find some of the offerings unpalatable.
And considering this is an election year, Kasich may not be able to push too hard on certain proposals despite the fact he has Republican majorities in both the House and Senate. Voters, after all, will be watching.
One matter certain to get a closer look is his proposal for new tax cuts, which, if approved, would drop Ohio's income tax rate to below 5 percent.
Since taking office in 2011, Kasich and the Legislature have reduced taxes by $3 billion by eliminating the death tax, cutting small business taxes in half, and cutting the state income tax by 10 percent. Kasich claims those cuts have helped create jobs and have spurred the economy, but not all experts agree.
While the details have not been disclosed, Kasich would presumably make up for the loss of tax revenue by increasing Ohio's severance tax on oil and natural gas drilling. But the severance tax has been under discussion for a year and is something Republicans in the House and Senate can't even agree on, let alone Democrats.
Other Kasich ideas, though, may get bipartisan support....
In the end, Kasich may get most of what he's asked for. The question is whether that happens before, or after, the election.