More than economy led to State Issue 1#039;s defeat

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 7, 2003

Tribune editorial staff

Tuesday's election had its share of surprises, but perhaps the biggest surprise was the defeat of State Issue 1.

If Ohio voters would have passed the proposed constitutional amendment, they would have authorized a $500 million bond issue to support Gov. Bob Taft’s $1.6 billion Third Frontier initiative.

Email newsletter signup

Gov. Taft blamed the issue's defeat on an uncertain economy. This may have been true in some cases, but it really went beyond that.

Even though Lawrence County supported the issue - 56 percent of the voters said "yes," the issue did miserably in Appalachia and other rural areas as a whole, losing by large margins in nearly every county. Overall, Issue 1 lost by 51 percent to 49 percent.

According to analysts, some rural voters

were not sure they would see any benefit from state assistance to high-tech companies and universities. After all, most of the businesses that would benefit from State Issue 1 are located in larger cities where the infrastructure and access to interstate travel is better. Those companies that would be considering expansion would also look at the big cities, or at least that seemed to be the logic of many voters.

It wasn't just the rural people who turned thumbs down on the issue, however. Even residents in counties with major academic and industrial research programs already in place - such as Franklin County where it failed by a large margin - seemed to be concerned about taking on debt to pay for operating expenses.

Also, any time people hear about proposed amendments to the constitution, some tend to be turned off from the onset.

Before the election, we went on record supporting State Issue 1. Compared to many other states, Ohio is playing catch-up when it comes to promoting high-tech jobs, and the only way we are going to catch up is to create and maintain such positions. This is why, we felt, State Issue 1 was important to the future of Ohio.

Taft told reporters Tuesday night that it is unlikely he will try to get a bond issue passed again. Perhaps a bond issue isn't the way to go, but we still feel Taft and lawmakers need to explore other options to attract high-tech businesses to the state.