Governor Mike DeWine delivered his 2023 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. Today’s session was attended by both houses of the legislature, the Ohio Supreme Court, the members of the Governor’s Cabinet, and the public.
The Governor began by acknowledging that today’s meeting was happening at a time of great opportunity for Ohio, as well as a time when the state is facing great challenges. Given that the Governor is due to deliver his proposed operating budget bill, today’s speech focused on proposals that will be contained in that bill. He noted that the budget will be fiscally sound, with the significant one-time funding available to the state focused on one-time expenditures that center on people, families, and children.
In a hallmark of Governor DeWine’s time as governor and his public career as a whole, he started the speech by focusing on children and families. He said that our future will be defined by how well-educated our children are and how well we tear down barriers to their success. New proposals will include:
- Renewed focus on funding and teaching kids to read by ensuring all schools have funding to access a curriculum that is evidence-based and to train teachers to teach it
- Repeal the sales tax on baby supplies like diapers, cribs, and strollers
- Create a $2,500/child state tax deduction
- Expand access to high-quality childcare for 15,000 more children
- Increase spending on training and improvement for school security, including providing funding to any school, public or private, that wishes to hire a school resource officer
- Continue to implement the Cupp-Paterson school funding formula
He also announced a proposal to create a new cabinet-level agency, the Department of Children and Youth Services. Noting that programs designed to help children are fragmented across six different agencies, the new agency will consolidate those programs.
On the higher education side, Governor DeWine announced two significant spending initiatives. He first proposed a one-time, $300 million investment in the state’s career centers for capital improvements and technology/equipment upgrades. The Ohio College Opportunity Grant (OCOG), which provides need-based aid to Ohio students, will be expanded to (1) provide aid to community college and state university regional campus students; and (2) allow for $6,000/student scholarship, renewable annually, which is a significant increase over prior funding levels. The Governor also said the budget will propose a $5,000/year scholarship for Ohio students who graduate in the top 10% of their high school class
and who attend a school in Ohio.
Before continuing with his budget proposals, the Governor took a moment to recognize Lt. Governor Jon Husted and the work he has spearheaded on workforce and economic development. This led to his announcement of the All Ohio Future Fund, a one-time $2.5 billion investment in preparing infrastructure for large development sites in all corners of the state.
Another of the Governor’s enduring priorities is the improvement of the state’s mental health system. Saying that all of us know someone who is struggling with a mental health or addiction issue, it is incumbent on the state to make good on the promise to build a quality community mental health system.
Other budget proposals DeWine unveiled include:
- Housing – implementing tax changes and programs to promote the development of affordable housing and promote homeownership
- Nursing Homes – the creation of a task force to develop recommendations on improving quality of life and care and also noting that any discussion of additional funding must include a discussion of improved quality
- Law Enforcement
- $40 million/year for training on topics like de-escalation, use of force, and mental health intervention
- Fully fund all counties adopting enhanced 911 technology to better identify a caller’s location
- H2Ohio – expanding the water quality programs with a new focus on the state’s rivers.
Governor DeWine closed by saying that while he hoped he had laid out a clear path to the future, the state’s greatness lies not in its leaders but in the goodness and commonsense of our people. The next big event on the horizon is the unveiling of the Governor’s budget proposal, which will first be introduced in the House of Representatives for the full legislative process.