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Ohio Billionaires Wealth Increased by $1.6 Billion As DeWine Cuts $390 Million in Government Jobs and Services

Gains of 6 Richest Residents Could Cover State’s $390 Million Budget Shortfall 

4 Times Over & Still Leave Billionaires as Rich as They Were Before COVID

The collective wealth of Ohio’s six billionaires jumped by $1.6 billion, or 12.4 percent, between mid-March of last year and Jan. 29 of this year, according to a new report by Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) and  Health Care for America Now (HCAN) this week.  The $1.6 billion in pandemic profits of the state’s richest residents could cover the state’s projected $390 million 2021 budget gap four times over and still leave them as wealthy as they were when the pandemic started 10 months ago. 

Between March 18—the rough start date of the pandemic shutdown, when most federal and state economic restrictions were put in place—and Jan. 29, the total net worth of Ohio billionaires rose from $12.8 billion to $14.4 billion, based on this analysis of Forbes data, and also shown in the table below.[1]

The private gain of Ohio billionaires contrasts sharply with the health and economic struggles that average Ohioans are facing because of the pandemic. Over those same tough 10 months, some 883,716 state residents fell ill with the coronavirus, 11,006 died from it and 2,144,564 lost jobs in the accompanying recession.  Black Ohioans have faced disproportionate harm because of the pandemic. Although Blacks make up 13 percent of the state’s population, Black Ohioans have made up almost 20 percent of hospitalizations. Blacks are also being vaccinated at much lower rates, making up fewer than five percent of the people who have been vaccinated so far in Ohio. Significant new resources are needed to conduct outreach to the Black community about the vaccine, educate and reassure people about safety and ensure meaningful access.

But without federal aid to the state, that kind of outreach is unlikely. Gov. Mike DeWine made  $390 million in budget cuts via executive action across all state services already in 2021. DeWine’s budget proposal would cut public transportation f percent, from $70 million to $7 million over the coming two years. Transportation cuts disproportionately impact people of color who are more likely to depend on mass transit to get to work, run errands or get to medical care like vaccinations.

Federal lawmakers are debating the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Act in Congress, which could bring relief dollars to Ohio to prevent more cuts and provide direct assistance for unemployment insurance, housing, public transportation, and direct cash payments to people and families. Ohio U.S. senator Rob Portman has been a prominent critic of the President’s relief plan, and is leading an effort to reduce the aid by two-thirds. Portman’s  fellow Republicans claim the president’s plan is too costly.

Yet the $1.2 trillion pandemic wealth growth of the nation’s billionaires would nearly close the funding gap between the $1.9 trillion proposed by the President and the $600 billion offered by Senate Republicans. Biden’s plan would provide $350 billion in general aid to state and local governments to preserve jobs and critical public services plus $170 billion to help schools reopen and support public colleges.

While Senator Portman is pushing to reduce the amount of direct cash payments to families from $1400 in Biden’s American Rescue Act to $1000 per individual, Ohio’s six billionaires have amassed enough new wealth during the pandemic, a  $1.6 billion leap, to send every one of the state’s 11,689,100 residents a relief check of roughly $136 each. A family of four would get $544.  



Mar. 18, 2020

Net Worth (Millions)

Jan. 29, 2021

 Real Time Worth (Millions)

Wealth Growth in 10 Months (Millions)

% Growth in 10 Months

Primary Income Source









Les Wexner






Fashion & Retail

Denise York





San Francisco 49ers


Clayton Mathile





pet food

Food & Beverage

Norma Lerner






Finance & Investments

Nancy Lerner





banking, credit cards

Finance & Investments

Randolph Lerner





banking, credit cards

Finance & Investments


Sources: All data is from Forbes  

March 18, 2020, data is from the Forbes World’s Billionaires List: The Richest in 2020.

Jan. 29, 2021 data was taken from Forbes real-time estimates of wealth that day.

As Ohio billionaires ride out the crisis on a rising tide of wealth, the state’s working families struggle to keep their heads above water and make it through COVID:


      206,154 state residents were collecting unemployment the week ended Jan. 9 [U.S. Department of Labor]

      Between March and September 2020, 3,108 state businesses closed, 1,711 of them permanently. [YELP]

      Late last year, 1,043,000 adult state residents, or 13%, reported going hungry over the past week. The figure for households with children was 14%. [Center on Budget & Policy Priorities, CBPP, Table 1]

      19% of the state’s tenants—467,000—were behind in their rent at the end of 2020. [CBPP, Table 3]

Low-wage workers, people of color and women have suffered disproportionately in the combined medical and economic crises because of long-standing racial and gender disparities.

“Once again, Ohio lawmakers are demonstrating where their priorities lie, and it’s not with struggling Ohio families who are trying to get through the pandemic while taking care of their families,” said Reverend Marcia Dinkins, executive director of Black Women Rising. “Instead of passing the relief we need in Congress and stopping cuts to jobs and services in the state budget, Republicans like Senator Portman want to nickel and dime Ohioans even as the rich keep getting richer.”

“Billionaires have been reaping bushels of pandemic profits the last 10 months while many working families are reeling, state and local services are suffering and jobs are disappearing,” said Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness. “Congress needs to come to the immediate rescue to get the country out of this mess. And then it should turn its attention to enacting sweeping reforms that make the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share of taxes so we can create an economy that works for all of us.”   






Copyright © 2021 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 02/25/21 12:22:24 -0500.

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