Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine made it clear on Tuesday that his priorities this budget cycle center on children’s literacy, mental health and spending to attract big business.
In his annual state of the state address to a joint meeting of the General Assembly, DeWine announced big moves of money included in his budget proposal, including $2.5 billion in funds punctual to prepare construction sites for large companies and tax credits per child. he says will help improve health and education outcomes.
“Our future is bright – but that future will be defined by the quality of education for all of our children and how we remove the barriers to their success,” DeWine said.
Among his proposals for the budget — which will now be dissected by the General Assembly as the House and Senate set their own priorities and spend the spring and summer negotiating — is a tax deduction of $2,500 per child. , as well as a repeal of the state sales tax on “essential baby supplies,” such as diapers, car seats and strollers.
He also wants to incentivize high school students to stay in Ohio for post-secondary education by offering the top 5% of each high school an annual renewable $5,000 scholarship if they attend a college or university in the state.
DeWine also turned to the adoption system in Ohio, saying his budget would “make it easier for families to adopt children into safe, loving, and forever homes” and give them access to Medicaid coverage even if a child is adopted by a private agency.
The governor’s budget also pledges to address underlying issues for children and families in Ohio with affordable housing tax credits for low-income families and single-family homes.
And as the legislature mulls a restructuring of Ohio’s education system that would include renaming the Department of Education and putting its director under the governor’s cabinet, DeWine hopes to take a similar approach with student services. children.
With the Department of Children and Youth project, DeWine said he wants to consolidate the programs of six other state agencies, focusing on maternal and child physical health, the foster care system and the early childhood education.
“The issues affecting the lives of our children are just too big to be scattered across multiple agencies, without someone from the governor’s cabinet leading them every day,” DeWine said.
The governor has proposed an overhaul of the state’s public school funding formula, called the Cupp-Patterson plan and the Fair Schools Funding Formula, which he has said he wants to see funded. So far, the plan has received two-year funding from the legislature, but was designed as a six-year phased introduction, with studies of the true cost of raising children and specific objectives for economically disadvantaged students and in special education.
But DeWine also pushed for the expansion of EdChoice private school vouchers, criticized by public school advocates and Democrats as a drain on desperately needed money from public schools.
His budget would also increase facilities funding for charter schools, from $500 to $1,000 per student.
DeWine has made no move toward gun safety efforts, even as he spoke about school safety.
“One of the things families never cared about was their kids’ safety at school,” DeWine said. “Today, unfortunately, they do.”
What the governor has proposed is state funding for every school to have a school resource officer present in their buildings, even if they cannot afford to do so on their own.
“We also want to do this because often there is a trust that is built between the students and the officer that wouldn’t happen otherwise – but for that officer being at school every day,” said DeWine.
The proposal comes the year after DeWine signed a bill allowing teachers to be trained and armed during the school day if a school district approves.
DeWine also encouraged the expansion of the state’s School Safety Center, which patrols social media for threats against schools and students and houses an anonymous tip line.
Mental Health and Policing
The governor also used his state of the state address to stress the need for a community mental health system, something that has long been lacking in Ohio.
“We must not accept that mental illness and addiction are inevitable,” DeWine said.
The budget proposals DeWine will bring to the Legislature focus on increasing prevention, crisis response, treatment and behavioral health personnel, he said.
Amid these increases, he said, should be the creation of the State of Ohio Action for Resiliency Network (SOAR), to “harness the talent of our citizens to deploy a comprehensive, multi-year research study, the first in the gender. this includes Ohioans from all parts of our state,” according to the governor.
“It will help us understand the unique nature of mental health issues in urban, suburban, rural, and Appalachian communities in Ohio to better determine what interventions work best in our many diverse communities,” he said. declared.
DeWine’s proposals for the public safety sector tie into mental health, where his budget promises $40 million a year for “ongoing training of Ohio law enforcement officers on topics ranging from de-escalation to use of force to crisis intervention for someone with a mental illness.”
The governor did not mention Tire Nichols, a 29-year-old Tennessee resident who died three days after being severely beaten by five Memphis Police Department officers, who now face murder and assault charges. related to beatings. But he spoke about the importance of body cameras for law enforcement.
“Recent events have shown us once again how important body camera footage can be, as well as the critical need for ongoing training for our law enforcement officers,” DeWine said.
Bring big business
Ohio is “really on the move,” he said, when it comes to recruiting big business in the state. He praised business advancements like Intel’s incoming factory in Licking County, Honda’s plans to expand into Fayette County and Ford’s electric vehicle manufacturing plans in Avon. Lake and GM in Toledo.
But the state has more sites that could be developed, if they were ready.
“We just don’t have enough sites ready to start and grow for the kind of calls we get from companies around the world,” DeWine said.
With that in mind, DeWine plans to use $2.5 billion in one-time funds “to prepare infrastructure for major economic development sites located in every part of Ohio.”
In a joint press conference immediately after the DeWine Statehood report, House and Senate Democrats said the governor and legislature must push for a budget that puts the people first, but doesn’t not take more money from public schools.
Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio said the statewide report highlights some of Ohio’s strengths, but also “sheds light on things we need to improve.”
“We’re looking for a budget that works for everyone, a budget that puts people first,” Antonio said. “We need a budget that will create ladders of opportunity and pathways to success for all Ohioans, especially our children.”
House Minority Leader Allison Russo said well-resourced classrooms and full funding for the Fair Schools Funding Plan should be a priority as lawmakers head into the budget process.
“We can’t afford to push forward legislation that would defund our public schools, and we certainly can’t afford to support with taxpayers’ money a voucher system that lacks transparency, accountability and teaches hate children,” Russo said, apparently referring to a small group of homeschooled parents in Ohio who allegedly used neo-Nazi content in their curriculum.
Democrats have also argued that Ohio needs to focus on safe and affordable housing for families to spur economic development and increase residency.
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