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50 Years Later: Many left to wonder what kind of war is being waged in Ohio

January 8, 2014
Democrat Newsroom

It was 50 years ago today that President Johnson declared a war on poverty in this nation. Still, many in our state are left to wonder whether the battle rages on in Ohio. Only six other states have more people in poverty, and over the past few years, our poverty rates have been higher than the national average.

Ohio’s median income dropped 11 percent over the past 12 years, meaning more Ohioans have likely slipped in their economic position and could be one mere emergency away from financial ruin. Families that were once middle and working class now  know the harsh consequences of living in a society that seems to continually edge out broad-based economic opportunity and, instead,  focuses on investing in the wealthiest among us.

24 percent of Ohio’s children are impoverished; yet the state has cut over $1B to public education in recent years.

18 percent of Ohio's women are living in poverty but the last state budget included sweeping prohibitions on women’s access to healthcare—especially for low-income females.

10 percent of senior citizens in Ohio are impoverished. The recent budget raised property taxes for seniors who are likely just outside the traditional definition of poverty, but that increase-- coupled with another 12.5 percent property tax increase and a 4.5 percent sales tax increase-- means Ohio’s seniors who are barely getting by are faced with policies that will eat away at their financial security.

134,000 Ohioans are now faced with the possibility of losing food benefits through restrictions imposed by Gov. Kasich. How can we expect poor Ohioans in need of basic necessities to find work when our state spent 1/3 of 2013 as a national leader in job loss?

The 24th largest economy in the world shouldn’t be a national leader in poverty or job loss. We need to find a new approach that addresses our shrinking middle class. Tax cuts aimed at putting more money in the pockets of the wealthiest among us do nothing to combat poverty or create opportunity.

It is time to ask ourselves what kind of war we are waging in Ohio.