Governor Mike DeWine delivered his 2022 State of the State address this afternoon before a joint session of the Ohio General Assembly in the chambers of the Ohio House of Representatives. This is the first State of the State address in three years due to the pandemic-induced cancellations of the last two annual addresses.
Governor DeWine opened his address today by taking a moment to acknowledge Ukraine and the heroes there fighting for freedom and democracy. He then welcomed the family of the late Speaker of the House Bill Batchelder of Medina to the well of the House floor for recognition by those in attendance.
The Governor declared the state of the state to be strong. And while recognizing that there are differences among us, that the audience present – which included both houses of the General Assembly, the Ohio Supreme Court, all statewide elected officials and all administrative department heads – is united in its love for Ohio and the belief that Ohioans should have the chance to succeed no matter their background or start in life.
DeWine spent the next portion of his speech acknowledging the progress that has been made over the past three years, highlighting:
- The state’s investment in children, a long-time priority of the Governor, including items like doubling the funding to home visiting programs to new mothers and babies and increasing access to childcare
- The easing of restrictions and the increase of insurance coverage for telehealth services – the need and value of which have only been highlighted by the pandemic
- The commitment to clean water as seen in the H2Ohio program
- Closing the digital divide with increased funding to promote broadband coverage
- The creation of Innovation Districts in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus to support cutting-edge STEM research and development
- A tax cut of $3.6 billion and tax rates that
are the lowest in more than 40 years.
The Governor noted that those accomplishments have all come during a once-in-100-year global health crisis and Ohioans did that together. He also took a moment to acknowledge the difficulty of the past two years, recognizing the Ohioans that have been lost and their families and thanking the Ohio National Guard and frontline workers across the state for all their hard work.
The Governor then exhorted that now is the time to seize the future. Governor DeWine said that with a state operating budget on firm footing, low unemployment, the strongest credit rating since the 1970s and historic investment in our manufacturing industry, that this is the moment to make investments in our future. He then asked
the General Assembly to work with him on several initiatives:
- Continuing to improve the state’s mental health and addiction services system and workforce
- Noting that the system is not broken, but that it was never built, Ohio has the opportunity to create a model for the world and acknowledge that these are health issues not crimes.
- He said he would be coming forward with plans to grow the behavioral health workforce, increase research and innovation, and build community capacity.
- Keep investing and protecting the state’s public lands and parks
- Access to public parks is important to the physical and mental wellbeing of all Ohioans and a statement of the best of Ohio.
- Investing in the Appalachian region
- Saying the region is ready to move, he asked for support for a comprehensive investment program for downtown redevelopment projects, workforce development, broadband expansion, and student wellness programs.
- Scholarship and mentorship programs for Ohio’s most vulnerable children
- Citing examples such as the "I Know I Can" program from Columbus and the "Say Yes" Cleveland program, the Governor hopes to work with the General Assembly, local leaders, and the state’s colleges and universities to develop this initiative statewide.
- Highway safety
- The Governor asked the General Assembly to pass House Bill 283, to increase penalties for distracted driving.
- Funding and support for law enforcement
- He encouraged the members to create a permanent funding source to support ongoing professional development training.
- He also asked the General Assembly to pass legislation to professionalize the law enforcement profession and adopt his proposals to ensure violent offenders already under a gun disability cannot obtain weapons.
Governor DeWine closed by saying “Ohio, this is our moment” and asking the audience to join him and First Lady Fran DeWine in planting a new dogwood tree on the Statehouse lawn symbolizing their shared faith in the future and long-term vision for the state.
With the State of the State delivered, the Governor, along with the other members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission, will most immediately be focused on drawing districts for both the Ohio House and Senate and Ohio’s U.S. House delegation. Each set of maps has been declared unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court multiple times, putting the state’s May 3 primary in jeopardy. The Redistricting Commission’s next deadline is for the
fourth attempt at Statehouse maps, due to the Supreme Court by March 28.