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Lawmaker says Ohio's workforce can grow with scholarships and tax breaks

Rep. Jon Cross (R-Kenton) introduces the G.R.O.W. Act geared towards growing and retaining Ohio’s college student population.
Daniel Konik
Statehouse News Bureau
Rep. Jon Cross (R-Kenton) introduces the G.R.O.W. Act geared towards growing and retaining Ohio’s college student population.

Business and higher education leaders are backing the plan.

Rep. Jon Cross (R-Kenton) says the G.R.O.W. Act -- Graduating and Retaining Ohio's Workforce -- is a multi-pronged approach to ramp up the state's population.

Cross says the state needs to work on policies that bring more people to Ohio and keeps them in the state. The concern is partially based on Ohio's sluggish population growth compared to other states - which cost Ohio a Congressional seat in the 2020 Census - and the forecast decline in high school graduates.

The bill looks to address the issue by expanding financial assistance and granting tax breaks.

The G.R.O.W. Act would:

  • Establish 100 merit-based scholarships of $25,000 for out-of-state high school students, graduating in the top 5% of their class, pursuing science- and technology-based degrees.
  • Grant businesses that offer paid internships, apprenticeships, and co-ops a 30% state income tax credit on those paid wages.
  • Offer 100% refundable state income tax payment for every Ohio college student for up to three years after graduation if their employer is based in Ohio.
  • Allow additional financial assistance through the Ohio College Opportunity Grant for students with an associate degree who wish to pursue a bachelor's degree.

Cross believes these investments will be returned by a growing workforce that will continue to stay in Ohio.
"It might cost Ohio, but like I said, it's an investment. And again, the folks want to be greedy and collect your taxes, we will do that years four through 99 when you live and stay here," says Cross.

Cross was asked if he thought the mission of growing Ohio's younger population might be counteracted by the state legislature's push for policies viewed as extremist, including those against vaccine mandates, gun regulations, and abortion rights.

Cross says many states deal with partisan issues in their legislatures, from the Republican-controlled Texas Statehouse to the Democratic-controlled California Statehouse. Cross says his bill is about bringing groups together to take steps towards attracting people to Ohio and keeping them in the state.

Cross says he's looking to get more co-sponsors for the bill and hopes Democrats will also support the legislation. He expects this to get a lot of attention going into the new year of the legislative session.

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