A new study released on Tuesday by The Children’s Defense Fund, a group whose mission is to “ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities,” undercuts Ohio Governor John Kasich’s story of how great his Ohio miracle has been since he came to power in 2010.
“Through a state-by-state comparison of data on child well-being, the 2016 KIDS COUNT Data Book reveals what we know in Ohio,” a media release said. “All of our children’s basic needs are not being met.” Gov. Kasich won’t brag about how Ohio’s rank in child well-being has dropped to 26, the first time it has ranked in the bottom half of states since 2012. A creation of the The Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Data Book measures child well-being in four areas: economic well-being, education, health, and family and community.
According to the report, aid from federal, state and local policies and investments in prevention have helped a record number of teens—those in Generation Z—have managed to avoid bad choices that could have derailed their future prospects. Teens in Ohio are following similar trends, Dawn Wallace-Pascoe, director of Data and Research at Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio noted, with a 36 percent drop in the teen birth rate, a decline of 38 percent in drug and alcohol use, and a 29 percent decrease in the percent of teens not graduating on time. These combined improvements, she said, have occurred despite a child poverty rate of 23 percent, a rate that has remained virtually unchanged for several years. Meanwhile, 31 percent of Ohio children live in families that lack secure employment and 14 percent live in high-poverty areas.
Should Kids Be For Kasich?
Gov. Kasich has gone 42 straight months of not even meeting the national job creation average, while child poverty is up. Even having given back $5 billion in income tax cuts, revenue that went disproportionately to the wealthiest Buckeyes, and armed with a private, hand-picked board to run the state’s job creation group, Ohio under Gov. Kasich has not fully recovered all the jobs lost during the Great Recession. It’s unfortunate that Gov. Kasich’s political bent only recognizes private sector jobs as worthwhile, because public sector jobs have still not returned to full capacity, contributing to Ohio’s anemic economy.
Dawn Wallace-Pascoe said via email Tuesday, “The fact that Ohio teens are making their way through high school at record rates is cause to celebrate. However, we must do more to ensure a young person can continue his or her education to reach economic security in adulthood.”
The national rates of children without health insurance have improved by 40 percent since 2008, exclusively due to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act President Obama and majority Democrats pushed through Congress in 2010 in the face of virtually complete opposition from Republicans, who like Gov. Kasich, thought it a bad idea. While some states recorded decreases of more than 60 percent, Ohio saw a 29 percent decrease in uninsured children. Doing the right thing but maybe for the wrong reason, Gov. Kasich, now term-limited after he won in 2014, navigated around a hostile state legislature to expand Medicaid in Ohio.
Ohio’s elected officials, all Republicans from the office of governor to all other statewide constitutional offices and the state legislature, get credit for taking the necessary steps to begin to decrease Ohio’s historically high rate of infant mortality. In 2014, the report notes, Ohio’s overall infant mortality rate was 6.8 per 1,000 live births, while the infant mortality rate for Black babies was 14.3.
Executive Director Renuka Mayadev said, “We are grateful for the work of the bipartisan Commission on Infant Mortality and the strong public-private partnerships that have formed in our cities to meet the critical needs of mothers and babies.”
Prescriptions for improvements from the Data Book offer recommendations for how policy makers can ensure all children are prepared for the future, based on this country’s shared values of opportunity, responsibility and security:
OPPORTUNITY: Increase opportunity by expanding access to high-quality Pre-K and early childhood services so that all children are prepared to succeed in school. In addition, expand access to higher education and training so that every low-income child has a fair chance to develop his or her potential.
RESPONSIBILITY: Increase the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income workers who do not have dependent children. This strategy will bolster workers, who may in fact be helping to support children who do not live with them and who are struggling to get by on low wages.
SECURITY: Policies can ensure American families have a measure of security, particularly low-income parents of young children, by providing paid family leave that helps them balance their obligations at home and in the workplace.
National Media Ignored Kasich
When Gov. Kasich couldn’t win in the field as Donald John Trump did, Plan B for Camp Kasich was to rig the rules when Republicans gather in Cleveland in July. Now that Mr. Trump has all the delegates he needs to win the nomination on the first ballot, Mr. Kasich finds himself muddled and befuddled along with a group of former GOP heavyweights, including Jeb! Bush and his brother and father, Mitt Romney and others, who vow they will not support the Donald.
What Gov. Kasich’s role in Cleveland will be is anybody’s guess, since he says Mr. Trump has to do a personality and temperament overhaul for him to back the New York billionaire and businessman folk hero. Mr. Kasich teased the nation before jumping into the race, saying he wasn’t sure what the Lord wanted him to do. He made a similar statement when he bowed out of the race. John Kasich’s idea of what he would do in Cleveland was to be nominated president.
Now that his hoped-for calling isn’t in the cards anymore, what he’ll say to the media, which he only tolerates because the system demands it even though he’s banned one reporter who dares confront him, will likely be a new stew of how he’s got the answers , for Washington and Ohio, and why he still believes he can beat Hillary Clinton if only big buck donors would see him as today’s GOP messiah.
Reports like this one won’t add to his luster as a GOP miracle worker, either, following nearly six years of lagging job growth and local governments and schools still smarting from Mr. Kasich’s confiscation of local government funds to bulk up state-level finances. Gov. Kasich will no doubt call for more healing, for more light over darkness, for more compassion that always comes with bitter medicine. If he stays on message, as he’s sure to do given what he’s said in the past, he will make a convincing case for voters to turn out for Hillary Clinton by abandoning Donald J. Trump.
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