Our view: Tangible hope for the troubled economy

DKS Editors

Last year in his annual State of the State address, Gov. Ted Strickland told Ohioans that through the troubled economy, the state of our state was steadfast.

At that time, the state’s most recently recorded unemployment rate from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics was 7.4 percent (December 2008).

Yesterday, it came time for the governor once again to address Ohioans on the state of their state. This time, he called it “unyielding” — in the face of economic turmoil, budget cuts and job losses. And unyielding in the “belief that Ohio will always be not just our home, but our hope.”

Between June and September of 2009, Ohio’s unemployment rate dropped from its highest point in recent years (11.2 percent) to 9.7 percent, showing some signs of improvement. Yet it’s on the rise once again — currently 3 percent higher than it was last year at this time at 10.7 percent.

To those who have lost their jobs in that 3 percent, the state may not seem so unyielding to the bad economy. To them, it’s their job, their income and maybe their families, who are at a loss because of the rocky state of the economy.

Though the raw numbers might not suggest that Ohio has put up a strong front to the economy, Strickland did offer the unemployed one thing during the address: hope, and a batch of ideas to prove that hope is worth keeping.

In his address, Strickland announced four new initiatives, all centered around job creation and job retention: the Small Business Growth Partnership, the Insource Ohio collaboration, the creation of a Manufacturing Certificate and the Build Your Own Business Program.

Strickland called these programs “common sense solutions,” as opposed to ideological extremes. And that’s a good thing. Too often people automatically jump to the ideological solution, but the programs Strickland announced yesterday seem to be tangible — stepping-stones to the ultimate goal of economic recovery.

If these programs work — and we hope they will — small businesses, manufacturers, would-be entrepreneurs and those in danger of losing their jobs to outsourcing would benefit. These are many of the people who are currently losing their jobs, and giving them resources can help stifle job loss.

Strickland has also continually recognized that education is a major source of rebuilding the economy. In past years, Strickland has announced tuition freezes, and while he didn’t this year, he vowed to not go backward on schools. While states like California recently announced a 32 percent tuition increase at state universities, Ohio has held tuition to the lowest increase in the nation over the last three years, and consequently, more people have been able to afford college.

The younger generation enrolled in Ohio’s education are the ones who will one day be responsible for jobs and the economy. Hearing Strickland say he will not short-circuit education is encouraging — many states don’t place as high of a priority on it as ours does. And by doing that, Ohio can become the Ohio that Strickland says will power the future.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.