Akron Beacon Journal, Feb. 17
Would Ohio do well to consolidate three education-related agencies into one big Department of Learning and Achievement? Cliff Rosenberger thinks so. The House speaker sees the merger of the departments of Education, Higher Education and the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation as “a huge piece” in strengthening the state’s “foundation.”
State Rep. Bill Reineke, a Tiffin Republican and the sponsor of House Bill 512, argues the consolidation would allow the state to realign its education offices with the objectives of improving responsiveness, achieving efficiencies and better preparing the workforce in an ever-changing economy. He cites the change as key to reaching the goal of 65 percent of Ohioans by 2025 having some type of higher education certificate or degree. (Currently, the share is 43 percent.)
The proposal echoes the pitch that John Kasich has been making to give the governor more authority in shaping and implementing education policy. The governor would appoint the director of the new department. The State Board of Education would play a diminished role.
In theory, much of that makes sense. Giving the governor a stronger hand would clarify lines of accountability. Who can argue with making government more nimble, quick and effective?
What Rosenberger and Reineke must show is how their idea would deliver in the concrete. In that way, Peggy Lehner, the chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee, brings fitting skepticism to the discussion. If the speaker wants to win passage by the spring, Lehner rightly noted the absence of adequate stakeholder input. That conversation promises to get at the unexpected pitfalls, barriers and other challenges.
More, there’s no guarantee that bigger is better. Large organizations may be vulnerable to embedded bureaucracies, or another version of the fragmentation the bill seeks to overcome.
So, the idea deserves exploration, The evaluation also requires the care Lehner has in mind.
Cleveland Plain Dealer, Feb. 20
The Trump administration still doesn’t get that the Great Lakes are a national treasure, an environmental boon, source of drinking water for tens of millions and a generator of billions in annual wages.
Latest evidence: President Donald Trump’s budget again takes the hatchet to Great Lakes funding, proposing to eliminate nearly 90 percent of Great Lakes Restoration Initiative spending by cutting the current from $298 million to $30 million.
Ironically, $30 million is the same as the high end of White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney’s estimates for the cost of the president’s proposed military parade. A parade won’t improve the nation’s bottom line. Spending on Great Lakes protections has had an ongoing positive impact on earnings and private investment.
Luckily, President Trump’s misguided Great Lakes budget cuts will not pass muster with either Republican or Democratic lawmakers who recognize that protecting Lake Erie and the other Great Lakes is in the national interest — and who successfully beat back the president bid last year to zero out GLRI funding. …
Still, it’s troubling that the Trump administration continues to ignore the evidence of the worth of this spending and of the national support for Great Lakes protections. …
Shorting the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative makes no sense — and would do lasting damage to this region’s future. Fortunately, Ohio’s congressional delegation and other Great Lakes lawmakers understand that and appear determined to resist the administration’s shortsighted cuts. They must.