When Ohioans go to the polls next week, they will be considering three statewide ballot issues. One of these issues is practically a no-brainer, while the other two have been the subject of intense debate and active participation by all manner of special interest groups. As an independent citizen blogger, all I can do is tell you how I’m planning to vote and why, in the hopes that you’ll agree with my reasoning and vote the same way.
First up is Issue 1, which would authorize the state to provide bonuses for veterans of the Gulf War, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Veterans would be provided with $100 for each month of service in any of the three wars, up to $1,000, while $5,000 would be given to families with a loved one who has died, is being held prisoner, or is missing in action. These bonuses would be financed by selling up to $200 million in bonds.
So far the only argument being made against Issue 1 — and it is not being made very aggressively or widely — is that it is fiscally irresponsible. Given the state’s recent record of fiscal irresponsibility, any questions raised should be met with answers rather than condemnation. As the Dayton Daily News points out, the cost to taxpayers will be minimal — $17 per person divided by 11.5 million people — and spread out over time. This is by no means an unfair burden for any of us given what our service members and their families have sacrificed during these three wars. I’m voting yes on Issue 1. You should too.
Issue 2, proposed by the legislature, would create an Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board. The rationale behind this new bureaucracy is that it may prevent future ballot issues sponsored by animal rights activists that would hinder agriculture in Ohio. Hidden behind this rationale is the role that agribusiness lobbyists played in having the issue placed on the ballot and the negative impact Issue 2 could have on transparency and accountability.
When you get down to the nitty gritty, Issue 2 will create a bureaucracy that is unelected and thus unacountable to voters. It will remove agricultural regulation from the democratic process, restricting both indirect democratic regulation through our elected representatives and direct regulation through the ballot. What is Columbus so afraid of? Any new regulation that animal rights activists propose will have to be approved by Ohio voters, most of whom understand the importance of agriculture to our state economy. I trust Ohio voters to make the right decisions about agriculture in our state, so I’m voting against Issue 2.
Maybe the most contentious ballot issue and the one I’ve struggled the most with is Issue 3. It proposes building casinos in Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Toledo. Proponents promise that Issue 3 will create tens of thousands of jobs and help balance the state budget. Opponents argue that many casino jobs will go to out of state workers who are already trained, that Issue 3′s tax rate is too low, and that too many potential loopholes exist.
While promises of jobs and tax revenue are appealing, one has to consider that Issue 3 was written by the casino industry. They’re setting their own tax rate, and you better believe they’re looking out for their profits way ahead of any jobs or revenue that would be created. I’m not necessarily opposed to casino gambling in Ohio — although, if four previous ballot issues are any indicator, most Ohioans are — but I think any casino legislation should be written by legislators accountable to Ohioans, not by the industry. They’re playing on Ohioans’ economic fears and fiscal worries to get this thing passed. Don’t be duped: Vote no on Issue 3 and hold out for casino legislation that serves our interests, not theirs.