Letters from readers for April 14, 2019

Ohio legislators must make children priority in budget

Thank you for the recent editorial titled “Governor’s plans for kids deserve to be fast-tracked.” Over the past decade, Ohio has focused on addressing a variety of challenges and opportunities, but we’ve lost focus on our most precious resource: our children. For Ohio to invest in our future, we must face the reality that we as a state have not kept pace with the growing needs of our children and families.

Consider this: Ohio ranks last in the country for its investments in children services. We also rank near the bottom for African-American infant mortality and for foster-child outcomes.

This crisis is what has brought 15 child-advocacy organizations together to form the Ohio Children’s Budget Coalition. Together we are urging our policymakers to pass a biennial budget that meets the basic needs of our children.

We appreciate Gov. Mike DeWine’s focus on children, including his investments in child nutrition programs, reducing child lead poisoning, evidence-based home visiting, support for children services and maintaining children’s health.

We ask the General Assembly to protect these critical investments and to address needs that are not met in this budget, including: expanding eligibility for child care from 130 percent to 150 percent of the federal poverty level, expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit for working-class families and making it refundable, and providing state support for a complete child count for the 2020 Census to preserve our representation and funding at the federal level.

Tracy N °jera, Columbus

Tracy N °jera is executive director of the Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio.

State Rep. Manning’s bill takes Ohio into Dark Ages

Four hundred sixty- five. That is the number of individual cases of measles that have been reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention so far this year. 465!

Measles, a highly contagious disease that was eradicated in the U.S., has made a comeback. We now see yearly outbreaks despite having an extremely cost-effective and safe way to prevent these outbreaks – immunizations.

As outbreaks occur, many states are taking action based on decades of research on vaccine safety and public-health benefits. After this year’s measles outbreak in Clark County, Washington, legislators are working together to pass House Bill 1638 that would remove the personal exemption for mumps, measles and rubella (MMR) vaccine. Vermont is in position to become the fourth state to remove all nonmedical exemptions. New York is considering a bill that would allow teens who are 14 and older to receive vaccinations without parental consent.

What is Ohio doing? State Rep. Don Manning, R-New Middletown, introduced House Bill 132.SFlbIf passed, HB 132 will require school districts to tell parents how easy it is to opt their children out of immunizations.

As other states introduce bills based on facts and science, Manning’s archaic bill is built on misguided fear and a plethora of misinformation. Instead of protecting public health, it puts our most vulnerable people at grave risk.

As Ohio’s nonmedical exemption rates continue to rise each year, falling below the Community Immunity Threshold for MMR is becoming a real possibility. Making it easier for parents to exempt their children from vaccines increases the likelihood that Ohio will fall below the threshold. If this happens, the unvaccinated, as well as individuals who are immuno-compromised, will be at an increased risk for catching a potentially deadly, but preventable disease.

Let’s not have Ohio move into the Dark Ages. Call your representatives and encourage them to vote against HB 132.

Davida Pantuso, Barberton

Youngstown resembles Kandahar in its violence

So there has been yet another big shooting in Youngstown. When is the carnage going to stop?

Sixty shots fired on Tod Lane last week. Sixty shots sounds more like Kandahar, Afghanistan, than Youngstown. The police and local churches appear on TV asking for calm and peace, but I’m afraid their pleas fall on deaf ears.

Nothing is going to happen until the people of Youngstown are willing to step forward and say “Enough is Enough”, until the people are tired of seeing their friends and neighbors gunned down in the streets, until they have been to enough funerals will there come a change.

And change will come only when the residents come forward and join with law enforcement to identify the gang bangers and drug dealers to rid their streets and neighborhoods of those who inflict pain and suffering on the helpless.

It’s time to take a stand; summer hasn’t even begun yet.

Jim Eidel, Beaver Twp.

Ohio sorely needs state plan on Alzheimer’s

About a month ago, I participated in the Ohio Alzheimers Advocacy Day in Columbus. In representing the Greater East Ohio Area Alzheimers Association, I was one of dozens of advocates who visited each of our Ohio senators and representatives.

Ohio is the only state in the United States without a state plan to address Alzheimers and other dementias. My husband, Chris, who died two years ago, had Alzheimer’s disease. As his caregiver, I am so grateful to have received so much help from my local Alzheimer’s Association. Perhaps you, your loved one, a friend or neighbor might be one of the 1 million Ohioans directly impacted by this disease.

Can you believe 220,000 individuals in Ohio are currently living with Alzheimer’s, and for each one, there are two to three caregivers providing unpaid care? Not only that, 53 percent of Ohioans experiencing memory loss and challenges with their thinking have not spoken to a doctor about their symptoms. They hope these lapses in memory will go away.

A state plan would include input from those affected, public awareness and education strategies and improve dementia training to better equip health care and support workers.

I urge state Sen. Michael Rulli to support the creation and implementation of such a plan by publicly supporting Senate Bill 24. Let’s urge our legislators to act now to deal with this looming public health crisis.

Marilyn J. King, Sebring

Republican policies hurt our nation and our state

It would be interesting to see just how much taxpayer money is being spent by President Donald Trump just for staying at his resorts and all of the lawsuits he has caused. I read where it cost $14 million last year to stay at his Florida resort, just for two months.

They ought to hang a “for rent” sign on the White House for how much he’s there. And I’ve lost track of all the lawsuits.

I guess Republicans being deficit hawks is a thing of the past. With their tax cuts, our debt has now risen to $22 trillion-plus. I worry for my son and future generations and hope that millennials will be able to save this country because we have really screwed things up.

In Ohio, it never seems to be raining for Republicans. Our “Rainy Day” fund is $2 billionplus. Meanwhile our infrastructure is falling apart. Cities, towns, counties and schools are all suffering from reduced state funding. They talk about raising the gas tax, but don’t mention anything about that money that could be used for these things and maybe keep the increase lower.

We need new leaders in this country starting at the top. For all the things Trump has done that I don’t like, and there are many, the thing that bothers me most is the way he’s treated John McCain. For a draft dodger to say what he’s said about a veteran and a man who served the country with dignity is outrageous, and I can’t believe there wasn’t more backlash.

Jack Thomas, Struthers