Ohio colleges, universities increasingly strapped for cash as enrollment plummets: Capitol Letter (2024)

Rotunda Rumblings

College material: Enrollment across Ohio’s 14 public universities and 23 community colleges is down 12.2% in the past decade, and the decline is starting to afflict individual schools through cuts, buyouts and warnings of financial crisis. The state’s private colleges are also feeling the squeeze, with at least four that have shuttered in recent years. Laura Hanco*ck looks at the enrollment drop, its causes and how schools can potentially thrive. She also provides a list of recent cuts and closures of Ohio colleges.

Let there be light: A recent trove of internal FirstEnergy Corp. documents released as part of a public-records request reveals the company’s extensive anonymous political spending in the late 2010s. Andrew Tobias explores the documents and describes how dark money has exploded since the 2010 Citizens United ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. Meanwhile, reform efforts have stalled, although House Speaker Jason Stephens told reporters last week that he was looking into the issue.

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Copycat: When Republican state Sen. Michael Rulli took the podium to address a committee about a resolution declaring natural gas as “vital” to Ohio’s economy, his testimony matched nearly word-for-word what an oil and gas lobbyist sent him privately as a “sample script.” As Jake Zuckerman reports, the resolution in question passed the Ohio Senate by a unanimous vote Wednesday.

Road map: State and regional officials are taking a new look at whether to build a controversial interchange along Interstate 71 on the border between Strongsville and Brunswick. As Jeremy Pelzer reports, the Ohio Department of Transportation and Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency will look to hire a consultant this fall to conduct an approximately two-year-long study into whether it would be best to build that interchange on Boston Road – which Strongsville supports but Brunswick strongly opposes – or another site in order to reduce traffic congestion.

Stay home: Ex-Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, who was convicted in federal court of running a $60 million corruption and bribery scheme to benefit FirstEnergy Corp., will not have to sit in the Cuyahoga County Jail as he awaits his trial on related state charges. Cory Shaffer reports that Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Brendan Sheehan this week allowed Householder to appear at his May 13 arraignment via a video stream from the federal prison in Elkton, where he is serving a 20-year sentence. Sheehan had previously granted a request from prosecutors to have Householder transferred to the county jail during the pendency of his case.

School of hard knocks: After coming under fire because of the botched rollout of the new Free Application for Federal Student Aid form, former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray is leaving his post as head of the Federal Student Aid office, Sabrina Eaton reports. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona released a statement that said Cordray will continue in the job until June to oversee completion of “key priorities.” The statement said Cordray “accomplished more transformational changes to the student aid system than any of his predecessors.”

Unresolved: The Ohio Republican Party’s State Central Committee on Friday punted on a resolution proposing that the state party automatically withhold endorsem*nts from any Ohio House Republican who doesn’t vote next January for the speaker candidate favored by a majority of the GOP caucus. The resolution was brought with the intention of avoiding a repeat of last year’s speaker vote, when Jason Stephens of Lawrence County was elected speaker with the help of Democratic votes, even though state Rep. Derek Merrin of suburban Toledo won the House GOP caucus vote. But several state central committee members called the proposal a “distraction,” and the committee voted to send the measure to their resolutions committee, whose members won’t even be named until late May.

Full Disclosure

Five things we learned from the Jan. 11, 2024 ethics disclosure form filed by Chris Glassburn of North Olmsted, the Democratic nominee for Ohio House District 15, about his 2023 finances:

1. Glassburn serves on North Olmsted City Council and runs Project Govern, a political data and redistricting consulting firm.

2. His investments of more than $1,000 include an Ohio Public Employees Retirement System mutual fund account and Vanguard’s Ohio Long-Term Tax-Exempt mutual fund.

3. Glassburn owns a single-family home in North Olmsted.

4. At some point last year, Glassburn owed more than $1,000 to a Barclays Mastercard, an Chase Amazon Visa card, and a US Bank Visa card.

5. At some point in 2023, he was owed more than $1,000 by Daniel Joslyn, a Las Vegas attorney who previously worked with Glassburn as an Ohio House staffer.

On The Move

The Ohio Republican Party on Friday elected ex-party chair Jane Timken as the state’s RNC committeewoman, reelected Jim Dicke as Ohio’s RNC committeeman, and voted Tuscarawas County GOP chair Doug Wills as vice chair.


Mike McGuire, Ohio House GOP senior deputy legal counsel and policy advisor

Brittany Warner, lobbyist and former Ohio Republican Party communications director

Straight From The Source

“A new generation of Americans is becoming addicted to nicotine because of flavored tobacco and vaping products, including menthol. We need a uniform national flavor ban right away!”

- Gov. Mike DeWine, in a statement released Friday criticizing President Joe Biden’s decision to delay banning menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products. DeWine has called for a statewide ban on flavored tobacco products, though state lawmakers have not only ignored that, but overrode his veto on a law forbidding local bans on such products.

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Ohio colleges, universities increasingly strapped for cash as enrollment plummets: Capitol Letter (2024)


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