COLUMBUS — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine shared his vision for the future of Ohio when he delivered the 2023 State of the State address in the House Chamber of the Ohio Statehouse Tuesday.
“We meet at a time of great opportunity for Ohio and its citizens,” said DeWine. “Yet, it is also a time of great challenges. Our future is bright — but that future will be defined by how well we educate all our children and how we tear down the barriers to their success. We are challenged as never before, because at no time in our history has the full education of all our children been more important.”
He said it’s important for all Ohioans to be fully educated and have the tools to live up to their potential.
“Our budget is fiscally sound — spending one-time money on one-time expenditures, averting a fiscal cliff in future years when this one-time money is gone,” he said. “It is a budget that focuses on our people, on our families, and on our children, for they are Ohio’s greatest asset. It reflects our obligation to make sure every Ohioan has the tools to succeed, to get a good job, to live their dreams, whatever they may be.”
He is calling on a renewed focus on literacy for the youth of Ohio. This includes the way reading is taught.
“There a is great deal of research about how we learn to read. And today, we understand the great value and importance of phonics. Not all literacy curriculums are created equal, and sadly, many Ohio students do not have access to the most effective reading curriculum,” said DeWine. “In our budget, we are making sure that all Ohio children have access to curriculum that is aligned with the evidence-based approaches of the Science of Reading.”
He also wants to reduce infant mortality and to improve maternal health.. In the proposed budget, we will grow this program to serve nearly 10,000 additional families. To further reduce infant mortality and help more mothers, our budget will also expand access to safe, stable housing for pregnant and new mothers.
He thanked the members of the General Assembly for their support of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. More than 366,401 Ohio kids receive a free book in the mail every month. More than 10 million books have been mailed to Ohio’s children.
The proposed budget, said DeWine, will help ease the financial burden on new parents, with the repeal of the state’s sales tax on infant supplies, such as diapers, wipes, cribs, car seats, strollers, and safety equipment. DeWine is also asking for a $2,500 per child state tax deduction.
He is calling for more childcare to be accessible to parents. He also wants to make it easier for people to adopt children and to provide healthcare for them.
”With your help, we have been transforming foster care. We created a Foster Youth Bill of Rights, and we established a statewide advocate for youth and families who independently investigates reports of abuse and misconduct within Ohio’s foster care system,” said DeWine.
He said the state must do more to help the families involved in the child welfare system.
”To better support children, families, and the caseworkers who serve them, we will once again increase their funding in our new proposed budget,” he said.
He said in the new budget he is asking for the creation of a new Cabinet-level agency, called the “Department of Children and Youth.”
“This statewide agency will allow us to have a sharp focus on children’s issues,” he said. “Our proposed Department of Children and Youth Services will consolidate programs from six different state agencies and focus specifically on the following: The physical health of mothers, infants, and children; Children’s behavioral health and the early identification of and intervention in mental health needs; Kids in foster care; and Early childhood education.”
School safety is also high on his agenda.
“Each day, our experts at the School Safety Center are scanning social media for threats to our students. They are responding to calls to the anonymous tip line. And, they are working with our local officials on each district’s unique safety needs,” he said. “Our proposed budget will allow us to continue and expand this vital work.”
Education through career centers will also receive funds through the budget.
”To reach more students and to provide better training for 21st Century jobs, our budget will invest $300 million of one-time funding for capital improvements and equipment for career tech education,” said DeWine. “If a child’s passion instead takes them to college, many families worry if they can afford it. And so, for the first time ever — we will provide need-based financial aid to students choosing to enroll in community colleges or university regional campuses.”
Other topics addessed were the workforce, jobs and economic development.
“(Lt. Gov.) Jon (Husted) has focused relentlessly on growing our workforce and on economic development. Since the Intel announcement just a year ago, we’ve celebrated groundbreakings, expansions, and investments all over the state.
The budget will create the “All Ohio Future Fund” — a one-time investment for communities where new industries are planning to build.
”We will make an unprecedented $2.5 billion investment to prepare the infrastructure of large economic development sites located in every single part of Ohio. With the development of these sites, every single Ohio citizen will be within commuting distance of at least one of these sites,” said DeWine.
DeWine also discussed the need for mental health support and helping those with addictions with the creation of the “State of Ohio Action for Resiliency Network” or the SOAR Network.
“This effort will harness the talent of our citizens to deploy a first-of-its-kind, comprehensive, multi-year research study that includes Ohioans from all regions of our state. This, and other research opportunities, will help us launch new discoveries about the brain and about resilience,” he said.
The lack of affordable housing was also discussed.
“To encourage the development of housing for lower-income families, help more Ohioans achieve the dream of homeownership, and continue the revitalization of our downtowns and historic communities, I am proposing in my budget a series of tax changes and programs,” he said. “For the first time ever, we will create both state ‘Low Income Housing Tax Credits’ and ‘Single Family Housing Tax Credits’ to stimulate the construction of more housing for families.”
An “Ohio Home Ownership Savings Account” program will also be created with Treasurer of State Sprague to allow Ohioans to save for down payments and other qualified housing expenses with reduced state tax consequences.
”Today, Ohio has over 960 nursing homes. Most of them are very good, with many wonderful and compassionate workers caring for the residents — and we are grateful for their work,” said DeWine.
Ohio ranks 39th as a state in the most recent CMS overall Quality Star Ratings.
“So, in the coming days, I will be appointing a task force to study the issues surrounding quality of life and quality of care in our nursing homes. This matter is urgent, and I will give this group a short timeline to report back to the people of Ohio,” he said. “They will travel across the state and will hear directly from residents and families about their lived experiences. We will give them a voice, and we will empower them to help drive solutions.”
DeWine concluded his address by talking about public safety and crime and the H2Ohio Rivers Initiative.