COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine's bold steps in the early days of the pandemic to reduce the spread of the virus earned him poor marks in a new conservative ranking of the nation's governors.
A new report from the American Legislative Exchange Council, a right-wing group of lawmakers and business people, rated DeWine 35th among states' governors for economic policies. Report co-author Stephen Moore, who chairs the Task Force on Economic Revival for FreedomWorks, contended that DeWine's response to the pandemic has been below average, and insisted that lockdowns are hurting the economy.
"Not only does Ohio have not a great record in terms of dealing with the health aspects," he said, "but Ohio has economic problems that continue to linger because so many small businesses were destroyed and so many Ohioans were thrown into unemployment lines."
Ohio's unemployment rate in September was 8.4%, down from a high of 17% in April. In response to the findings, a spokesman told reporters that DeWine is prioritizing moving the state's economy forward as well as new initiatives in workforce development. The spokesman noted that DeWine is "working daily to keep Ohioans safe so they feel confident to patronize businesses."
Report co-author Donna Arduin said the findings can be used to determine where states can improve in terms of taxes and spending, economic competitiveness, and handling of federal CARES Act funding — a category in which DeWine was ranked 36th.
"Coming out of the crisis, these states can learn from each other," she said, "not just on the handling of the crisis, but the handling of their economies, and their fiscal policies that drive their economies."
Despite Texas' high coronavirus spikes, Gov. Greg Abbott was ranked the "best" governor in the report, followed by governors of Georgia and South Dakota, which also has more cases. New Jersey, Alaska and Rhode Island governors got the bottom three rankings, respectively, although the latter two have had far lower rates of positive cases.
The ALEC report is online at alec.org, and the COVID rankings are at covid.cdc.gov