Editorials from around Ohio
Excerpts of recent editorials of statewide and national interest from Ohio newspapers:
The Toledo Blade, April 8
Exploring the opening of passenger rail service between Toledo and Detroit and Ann Arbor is a valuable exercise, as is shown by the recent remarks of a consultant hired by the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments and the city of Toledo.
The consultant’s report says that, under certain conditions, there would be a market for passenger rail from Toledo to Detroit-Wayne Metropolitan Airport and from there to Ann Arbor and Detroit.
Alexander Metcalf, president of Transportation Economics & Management Systems, Inc., Frederick, Md. is set to submit a report next month to the city of Toledo and TMACOG, which hired him for $50,000 to study the train concept’s feasibility.
A passenger train link between Toledo and Detroit, the airport, and Ann Arbor would spur travel between our cities and make transportation available to those who don’t have it now.
Mr. Metcalf’s report has a number of sobering conditions.
He said a top speed of 79 mph would allow a train to travel from Toledo to Detroit in 82 minutes. The train would have to fly at 110 mph to cut the trip to 73 minutes — still too long for many if not most motorists, who would then have to take further ground transportation to get to their specific destination.
A 79-mph train could carry 4.25 million passengers a year by 2030. The faster version could attract 5.06 million riders.
A robust rail service going in all directions is the undimmed hope of Toledo. Paying for solid research that enables city and county leaders to continually press the desirability of enhanced rail service is always a sound investment.
The Akron Beacon Journal, April 4
The Earned Income Tax Credit has proved effective in lifting people out of poverty. That especially goes for the federal version, which can route to a working parent with two children and $20,000 a year in taxable income as much as $5,700.
In 2013, Ohio added its own version of the credit, and in the just-enacted transportation budget, the credit has been strengthened.
Unfortunately, they still leave many behind. As Policy Matters Ohio points out, the changes benefit just an additional 1 percent of the state’s lowest income families. That is because the state version remains nonrefundable. It doesn’t result in a refund if the credit exceeds a taxpayer’s income tax liability.
That explains why 95 percent of the poorest Ohioans receive practically nothing from the state credit. Their earnings are too low.
By contrast, the federal version is refundable, meaning the amount of the credit that exceeds the tax liability flows to the taxpayer as a refund. Of the 29 states with their own Earned Income Tax Credit, 25 have refundable credits. Ohio would do well to join them.
The money boosts family finances and encourages more stable households. By one measure, 3 million children escaped poverty in 2016 due to the credit.
A refundable state Earned Income Tax Credit would not be cheap.
Worth bearing in mind is that the state has engineered a business tax break for “pass-through” income that costs $1 billion annually. This is a loophole ripe for unmerited use. The state has yet to show how it delivers for the Ohio economy. So there is a much better way to deploy a portion of that money — to help lift children and their families, expanding opportunity and improving lives.
Sandusky Register, April 3
What a difference a dozen years — and the right man — makes. The proposed federal budget includes $882 million for NASA Glenn Research Center, which includes NASA Plum Brook right here in Sandusky. The man most responsible for the resurgence of our NASA facility is retired Air Force Brig. Gen. David Stringer.
Appointed in 2007, Stringer had a resume to match his status as an American general.
Gen. Stringer was stationed six times overseas for a total of 12 years and supported the 1995 air war over Bosnia as well as the 1999 Kosovo War in the Balkans.
By the time he retired from the Air Force and joined NASA Plum Brook, he was experienced in a way matched by no man, perhaps, and he proved to be a perfect fit.
Stringer fought his own boss, who wanted to close down the Plum Brook Station, and won.
With the help of Friends of NASA Plum Brook, a group of local residents who heard Stringer’s message and carried it far and wide, the Plum Brook Station is recognized today as a one-of-a-kind facility where the rockets that will carry man to Mars will be tested and perfected.
NASA Plum Brook has been a huge part of our local economy for seven decades. Thanks to Gen. Stringer’s efforts, it’s likely to stay that way.
Marietta Times, April 8
Alone among states in the region, Ohio requires car and truck owners to purchase and display license plates on both the rear and front of their vehicles — but not for long.
A bill signed into law last week by Gov. Mike DeWine increases vehicle fuel taxes in Ohio. State taxes will go up to 38.5 cents per gallon of gasoline and 47 cents on diesel fuel.
Included in the measure is a section rescinding the longstanding front license plate requirement. That change had been opposed by some law enforcement officials.
But DeWine’s signature makes the change official.
Eliminating the front plate rule will save the state about $1.4 million a year, it has been estimated.
That brings up the question of whether the state will charge motorists less for their license plates. Providing one plate instead of two is cheaper, obviously. Should the state just keep the $1.4 million or pass savings on to vehicle owners?
It should pass the savings on, of course. It will be interesting to see whether the powers-that-be in Columbus see it that way. It is not normally their tendency, but they should.