The Plain Dealer, April 1
Members of Congress are well-paid, with a base pay of $174,000 a year. That’s more than three times Ohioans’ median annual household income of $50,674.
And members of Congress enjoy benefits few of their constituents get, from generous health care and retirement packages to their own tennis court and air travel perks.
What members of Congress aren’t entitled to is free Washington housing at taxpayers’ expense. So, if some members choose to sleep in their offices to duck Washington rents, they’re freeloading off the Treasury — and fairness demands that they pay the government rent, or, at minimum, taxes on the perk.
More raises and allowances for our already well-compensated lawmakers are out of the question.
Instead, members of Congress who want to live in their congressional offices must either pay fair-market rent for their government-supplied lodging, or a fee to compensate the Treasury for the extra use of water, electricity and cleaning services along with federal taxes on the value of the perk. Anything less is an insult to taxpayers.
The Columbus Dispatch, March 28
Ohio’s not doing such a great job after all, it seems, in directing extra school funding to districts with more poor and minority students. A recent national report that said Ohio was second-best in the nation on this measure probably is mistaken, and that fact is one more illustration of how convoluted the state’s school-funding system is.
A month ago when the report by Education Trust came out, we said, “Give credit where it’s due.” Now we have to take that credit back, as a closer look by an Ohio expert suggests that Education Trust over counted the amount of state aid going to Ohio’s poor and high-minority districts.
Education Trust researchers likely didn’t know about Ohio’s unusual way of funding charter schools, which involves first allocating all funding to districts and then deducting a charter-school share from each district’s total.
Noting the apparent mistake is important; getting more resources to districts with greater need is a key part of closing stubborn achievement gaps between groups of students. Economics Ph.D. and public-policy analyst Howard Fleeter said that’s why he decided to review the Education Trust study.
“It’s a good question they’re asking, and it should have an accurate answer,” he said. We agree.
The Star-Beacon, March 27
If the state of Ohio is serious about putting a dent in the opioid epidemic it’s going to cost money. We need more money for treatment, prevention, courts and police officers. But one area often forgotten in the opioid explosion is the criminal labs that must test drug concoctions and combinations that grow ever more complex — and dangerous — by the day. The state’s recent decision to give the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation a $2 million boost to its budget and try to reduce wait times for lab results is a good first step — but that’s all it is.
BCI has used the $2 million it asked for to hire additional chemists and equipment and now also farms some testing to laboratories at medical examiner’s offices.
… But if state lawmakers are serious about combating the opioid epidemic they should be proactive instead of waiting for BCI to beg for more funding if wait times still lag. The state is currently sitting on $2 billion in rainy day fund money. We’re not suggesting a lavish spending spree from Ohio’s emergency funds, but loosening the purse strings to save some lives and help the criminal justice system a little isn’t too much to ask — and the opioid epidemic absolutely qualifies as an emergency.
The Marietta Times, March 30
Apparently, leaders of quite a few democratic nations are boorish. At least, that is what Russian officials say.
A few weeks ago, a former Russian double agent who had been working for the West while on Moscow’s payroll was poisoned. Serge Skripal and his adult daughter had been living in England, where someone used nerve gas in an attack on them. Both remain hospitalized.
British leaders, citing the fact the gas in question was developed by Russia, expelled several Russian “diplomats” who actually were undercover spies.
Then the United States expelled 60 Russian diplomats. On Tuesday, NATO, Ireland, Australia and Moldova followed suit. A total of 130 Russians have been kicked out of host countries.
Russia labeled the actions “boorish.”
But action by many democratically governed nations is a warning Russian leader Vladimir Putin should heed: We may disagree on much, but when the neighborhood bully flexes his muscles, we react together.