Keeping Ohio's future: Practical and promising solutions for Ohio's brain drain

Ohio
lawmakers have introduced a bill aimed at stemming Ohio’s brain
drain and keeping college graduates in the state after they earn their degrees.
The legislation would allow Ohio college graduates, whether they are Ohio
natives or not, who obtain a job in the Buckeye State to have their earned
income exempted from state income tax for up to five years. 

The bill’s
co-sponsor, Rep. Cheryl Grossman, says 40 percent of Ohio’s college graduates
leave the state after graduation. That figure could be much higher,
depending on the particular college and community.  For example, a 2009 Fordham Institute
survey
of students
at top Ohio colleges found that 58 percent of students planned to leave the
state after graduation (a whopping 79 percent of out-of-state students said they
intended to leave Ohio, and 51 percent of native Ohio students were set on
departure). 

But that
same survey also showed support for incentives like the one proposed in House
Bill 258. When offered a menu of incentives designed to encourage college
graduates to stay in Ohio, respondents to our survey found “A state income tax
credit of up to $3,000 per year for 10 years for college graduates who stay in
Ohio” most appealing (65 percent).

The bill,
which is currently pending in committee, has the support of the Chancellor of
the Ohio Board of Regents Jim Petro. Petro cites (subscription required) the
economic benefit of keeping graduates in the state:

It’s a simple calculation. Right now Ohio has 26% of its workforce
with baccalaureate degrees. Across the country, the higher the portion of the
baccalaureate degrees in the state, the higher the per capita income. It’s a
direct relationship. For every one percent we increase the percentage of
baccalaureate degrees … involve, in our best estimates, over $2 billion in
annual economic activity added on.

The new state
budget also included a measure aimed at attracting native Ohioans who have left
the state to return. Ohio graduates who have left the state can return and
attend college at in-state tuition rates.

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