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Proposed legislation uses financial incentives to keep graduates in state

Several Ohio education leaders support the G.R.O.W. act
Cleveland State University.
Posted at 3:25 PM, Dec 06, 2021

CLEVELAND — Population growth in Ohio has stagnated.

So much so, the state lost a congressional seat after the 2020 Census data was collected. Now, one state-level lawmaker wants to reverse that trend by keeping graduates from Ohio schools in the state.

"The more legislation and the more creative solutions we can, we can find to these problems. We're going to be in a better shape," said Republican Rep. Jon Cross on Monday in Columbus.

The G.R.O.W. Act is focused on "recruiting and retaining" students in the state. It would incentivize high school students to consider Ohio schools with scholarship possibilities and give graduates who get full-time jobs income tax breaks for three years.

And students at Cleveland State University found the idea appealing.

"That's something I really like about Cleveland and Ohio, it's not trying to be something it's not. It just lets itself be what it is," said accounting student Samuel Aaronson. The 27-year-old Aaronson is originally from South Carolina. He said he likes how affordable Cleveland is compared to Charleston but having the incentive would be a nice capper to stay after he graduates.

Morgan McMahan is a music major from New York who sees Cleveland and Ohio as alternatives to the bigger, more densely populated New York City.

"It's cheaper for college students especially if you're just starting out after graduating," she said.

For pre-med student Jayden Jackson, it was a new concept but one he saw potential in.

"I've never thought about that, but it sounds like it would be a good idea," he said. "It would definitely work. People love incentives so." Jackson is eyeing medical school at Stanford but would come back to the Buckeye state after graduation.

The act, which is in the very early stages of the legislative process, is supported by education leaders in the state.

The idea is good on its face but the impact of a cut in income taxes could mean a change to the state's bottom line. It was an issue Cross was questioned on during the announcement.

"We're making Ohio competitive for talent around the country with this legislation," said Gary Miller, the president of the University of Akron. Miller and several other school presidents joined Cross on the podium.

"We're asking. We don't have a number yet," he said about what the impact on the state's operating budget would be. "We're asking Legislative Service Commission to do the due diligence on that now, and I'm sure they'll give us a price tag and I'm sure it'll be big."

For high school students, the act would provide scholarships to learners in the top 5% of their classes and if they are interested in STEAM subjects.