Excerpts of recent editorials of statewide and national interest from Ohio newspapers:
The Marietta Times, May 27
No one in Congress wants to take the blame for higher gasoline taxes just weeks before a major election. That probably explains delays in addressing long-term problems with the Highway Trust Fund.
But unless something is done to provide an infusion of money for the fund, it will dry up within months. By August, payments to states for road construction and repair will have to be cut off.
State transportation officials understand the challenge. Many highway departments receive much of their funding through state taxes on vehicle fuel. The federal fund relies entirely on it.
As we have noted previously, more fuel-efficient vehicles and inflation in general have opened gaps between fuel-tax funding and highway needs. That is why the federal fund will run out of money later this year.
Senators already have passed a stopgap measure that would provide $265 billion for the fund during the next six years. That would allow states to receive money at current levels.
But President Barack Obama wants a $302 billion, four-year funding scheme. His idea is to provide much of the money through higher business taxes.
Simply adjusting the federal gasoline tax, now 18.4 cents a gallon, upward would resolve the problem. Again, no one wants to do that just before an election.
House of Representatives members should agree to the Senate bill — in order to prevent highway repairs throughout the nation from grinding to a halt in August. Then, a long-range plan can be tackled.
The Columbus Dispatch, May 27
Ohioans who travel frequently to Canada might appreciate the convenience of having a driver’s license that doubles as a passport card. Even better, border officials can read the card from up to 30 feet away, allowing the holder to cross borders quickly and easily.
The Ohio House transportation committee voted 10-1 last week for legislation that would allow the state to issue the enhanced licenses, which carry radio chips and barcodes proving a person’s identity and U.S. citizenship. It would allow residents to cross into Mexico, Canada and Caribbean nations at land and sea ports of entry. A separate passport still would be needed for air travel.
Now the full House must vote.
Other border states — Michigan, New York, Vermont, Minnesota and Washington — and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Manitoba, Quebec and Ontario already issue the enhanced licenses, and they’ve been popular in those places….
Safeguards would be in place to keep the information from being hacked or tracked. No personally identifiable information is stored on the card’s radio chip; it’s just a number that accesses information on the secure Department of Homeland Security database. According to Homeland Security, the license also comes with a shielded sleeve to protect it from being read by snoops.
For those who still aren’t convinced the cards are secure or who worry about government abuse, they can choose not to get one. They’re optional.
Warren Tribune Chronicle, May 27
No wonder so many veterans of military service have lost all faith in promises made by the government they defended. Decades of broken pledges and now, a deluge of reports of immoral, perhaps criminal behavior in the Veterans Administration are to blame.
A few weeks ago, a whistleblower accused VA health care officials in Phoenix, Arizona, of keeping veterans on waiting lists so long some died before they could be treated. There were efforts to cover up what happened, it was alleged.
Now reports of similar misdeeds have come in from VA health care facilities in several other states.
President Barack Obama’s reaction was political in the extreme. He appointed White House Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors — a political operative — to oversee a review of the VA.
Obama either just doesn’t get it or doesn’t really care. Why on earth would veterans — and the tens of millions of Americans who revere them — expect anything more than a whitewash from such a review?
Members of Congress of both parties are angry about the allegations. They should channel that anger into a demand for a truly independent, bipartisan investigation of the VA. This is a mess that cannot and should not be covered up by the politicians.
The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, May 24
Next month, the United States has an opportunity to help the world’s poorest children attend school by making a generous pledge to the Global Partnership for Education, a multilateral organization that supports basic primary-school education in 59 developing countries.
It should seize it.
The next pledging conference is June 26 in Brussels and advocacy groups are asking the United States to provide $250 million over the next two years, says Crickett Nicovich, senior policy associate at RESULTS, a Washington, D.C.-based anti-poverty advocacy group. U.S. officials should make such a pledge — a big step up from this country’s donation of $40 million over the last two years — and Congress should appropriate the funds.
The global partnership’s big fundraising goals match the big needs. Around the world, 57 million children aren’t in school. The partnership wants to provide enough resources so that 29 million youngsters can attend school. Currently, the group supports 22 million school-age children.
Money is needed to break down more barriers.
In Malawi, some parents won’t send girls to school because of a lack of bathrooms and too few female teachers, whom parents trust with their daughters, said Benedicto Kondowe, executive director of Malawi’s Civil Society Education Coalition, in a recent telephone interview….
The United States can strike a blow against such extremists by partnering with other wealthy nations to help increase literacy rates and reduce poverty rates in the world’s poorest nations. Doing so would benefit not just those countries, but the world.