Ohio Governor DeWine Asks for Family and Education Policy Changes in State of the State Address

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine proposed major expansions of various social programs in his 2023 State of the State address to legislators in Columbus on Tuesday.

The Republican governor called on lawmakers to enact various new policies to aid families through the budget for Fiscal Years 2024 and 2025. Those requests include allowing parents who adopted children from private agencies to access Medicaid coverage and expanding a home-visit program providing health assistance to expectant mothers. 

The governor also wants the General Assembly to create a new cabinet-level agency called the Department of Children and Youth that would focus on physical and mental health, foster care, school safety, and early childhood education. He said the new department would consolidate programs operating under six state agencies. 

“We’re excited about the prospect of this new department and what it will mean for our children and for their families,” DeWine said. 

The governor called for lightening Ohioans’ tax burdens, focusing on targeted relief for state residents with children. Changes he did suggest included creating a new $2,500-per-child tax deduction and lifting sales taxes on baby products such as strollers, safety equipment, diapers, wipes, cribs, and car seats. 

Another priority to which the governor wants to steer more funding is the recently created Ohio Rise program, which assigns case managers to aid Ohio minors with mental health struggles. Ohio Rise currently serves 16,000 Ohio juveniles, and DeWine said he believes more young people need access to the program. 

The governor devoted much of his speech to education. He said his budget would provide new resources for schools to enhance safety by employing school resource officers. He also requested to improve families’ ability to send their children to private and charter schools. 

“Children have unique needs,” he explained. “So we want families to have the opportunity to send their children to a school that best meets those needs.” 

Specifically, DeWine’s budget would devote added funds to the EdChoice Scholarship Program, which gives low-income families, as well as those from underperforming school districts, tuition assistance for their children to attend participating private schools. The new funding would make the scholarships available to families at or below 400 percent of the federal poverty level. 

The governor furthermore asked legislators to budget $3,000 in new funds for each economically disadvantaged student to attend one of the state’s public charter schools. And he wants lawmakers to approve a new charter facility funding formula that increases the per-pupil state allotment from $500 to $1,000. 

Robert Alt, president and chief executive officer of the conservative Buckeye Institute, applauded the governor for his school-choice requests. He likewise praised the governor’s fiscal stewardship over the last four years. However, he suggested DeWine and his legislative colleagues should now get more ambitious in lightening Buckeye Staters’ tax burdens. 

“The Buckeye Institute applauds Governor Mike DeWine and Ohio lawmakers for building up Ohio’s rainy day fund, but Ohioans are facing tough economic realities, so now is the right time to enact bold and meaningful tax reforms,” Alt said in a statement. “Governor DeWine has been a strong champion for children, and The Buckeye Institute looks forward to working with him on transformational education reforms that put Ohio’s students first.

After discussing basic K-12 education, DeWine turned his attention to policies he said he believed would better prepare Ohio’s workforce. To that end, he asked the General Assembly to approve a budget that spends $300 million in one-time funding to update equipment for technology-based career education. He also proposed rewarding the top five percent of achievers in each high school’s graduating class with a $5,000-per year scholarship — renewable for each of four years — to attend college or university in Ohio. 

“We want our children to grow, to learn and ultimately live and work right here in the state of Ohio,” he said. 

The governor further envisions spending $150 million to create new regional innovation hubs throughout Ohio to partner industry with educational institutions so young people can be immersed in career training at an early age. 

Other spending priorities DeWine discussed included more money for police body cameras and for de-escalation training to prevent violent situations from coming about. The governor ended with a call for a new H2O Ohio Rivers Initiative to clean up polluted waterways across the state. 

– – –

Bradley Vasoli is managing editor of The Ohio Star. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Mike DeWine Delivers State of the State Address” by WKYC Channel 3.


Related posts