“If you want to live within driving distance of amazing art, theater, and major league sports teams — come to Ohio!” the governor also proclaimed.
“If you want to live in a state with 75 — soon to be 76 — of the most beautiful state parks in the nation — come to Ohio!” DeWine said.
(Coincidentally, the cadence of DeWine’s “come to Ohio” refrain called to mind John F. Kennedy’s 1963 pro-liberty “let them come to [West] Berlin” speech.)
With all due respect to the governor, there are some other things out-of-staters might want to consider about Ohio — albeit many due to a mulish General Assembly that, thanks to Republican gerrymandering of House and state Senate districts, isn’t the cross-sectional legislative body it is supposed to be.
If you want to live in a state (cleveland.com’s Jake Zuckerman recently reported) that “has the least stringent clean-energy requirements of any ... state with a renewable [energy] standard” — come to Ohio.
If you want to live in a state where the rights of LGBTQ residents aren’t fully protected — come to Ohio.
If you want to live in a state whose handgun lobby rules its legislature — come to Ohio.
If you don’t mind that the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio seems more like a cheerleader than an umpire in dealing with electric and gas companies — come to Ohio.
And if you want to live in a state that defines natural gas as green energy (thanks to a bill the governor himself just signed) — come to Ohio.
In fairness to Mike DeWine, many of these uncomfortable facts are due to Ohio’s bro-ey General Assembly, which seems to mistake the paid agents of special interests — lobbyists — as drinking buddies, not favor-seekers.
Mike DeWine’s good faith isn’t in question, nor his genuine regard for Ohio’s children and families, nor the positive facts about Ohio his speech cited. There’s a lot to celebrate, commemorate, enjoy. But those things don’t necessarily translate into more prosperity for the average Ohioan in a state whose median household income ($61,938) is 10.3% less than the nation’s ($69,021). It’s income that puts food on a family’s table, not state amenities, praiseworthy as those are.
That’s why to audiences more questioning than that at Monday’s ceremony, there’s a bigger picture of Ohio, and its circumstances, that also needs looking at — and addressing.
Thomas Suddes is a former legislative reporter with The Plain Dealer in Cleveland and writes from Ohio University. You can reach him at email@example.com.