(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine gave his 2019 State of the State address this afternoon during a joint session of the Ohio General Assembly, focusing on themes including investing in children, workers, infrastructure, and Lake Erie and water resources, as well as a continued effort in combatting the state's addiction epidemic.
"It is time for us to invest in our children, in our workers, in our roads and bridges, in our infrastructure, and in Lake Erie and in our state parks and other natural wonders," said DeWine in his address. "Simply put—it is time for us to invest in our future!"
DeWine outlined several key initiatives, including:
- Substantial investment in efforts to ensure the long-term health and protection of Lake Erie and other Ohio bodies of water through a new H2-Ohio Fund. "We have so much to appreciate, and we need to support and expand efforts that are working to preserve and protect our state's natural wonders—from Lake Erie to all our lakes and rivers," said DeWine. "That is why—through the budget that I will submit to you in a few days—we will create a new fund called the H2-Ohio Fund, to invest in targeted solutions to ensure safe and clean water all across the state of Ohio."
- Enhanced assistance to law enforcement through a new Narcotics Intelligence Center operated at the Ohio Department of Public Safety. "We will also empower local law enforcement through our creation of a new, highly specialized Narcotics Intelligence Center," said DeWine. "This innovative new center will provide local law enforcement with enhanced intelligence and high-tech analytical capabilities to strengthen criminal investigations and improve public safety."
- Increased wrap-around services models for in-need youth. "We are going to expand wrap-around service models, such as the Ohio Sobriety, Treatment, Abuse, and Reducing Trauma program, known as OhioSTART," said DeWine. "It provides specialized victim services to children who have been abused or neglected because of parental drug use, and it provides drug treatment for those parents."
- Substance abuse prevention education each year in grade levels from Kindergarten to 12th grade. "We are going to consistently and continually educate children in Kindergarten through 12th grade on the dangers of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco use and teach them the skills—through a much-needed focus on social-emotional learning—on how to make healthy decisions throughout their lives," said DeWine.
- Increased resources to local communities to combat the addiction epidemic, including increased treatment capacity and a new public health fund that will leverage resources to increase public health awareness and prevention strategies. "We are going to expand the state's treatment capacity first with more crisis support for children and for adults struggling with mental illness and addiction," said DeWine.
Workforce development was another theme DeWine reiterated as a priority in his speech, helping both Ohio citizens and job creators.
"We are going to help businesses in Ohio through increased opportunity zones, and we are going to help Ohio college students by having every one of our public universities offer guaranteed tuition—that won’t increase one dime—over the four years the student is in college," said DeWine. "We’re going to invest more in our career-tech centers and two-year community colleges, and we are going to create at least 10,000 industry certificates."
DeWine also continued stressing the importance of investing in Ohio's roads, highways, and bridges that he made the focus of his transportation budget.
"Our families should not be driving on roads that are crumbling and bridges that are failing," said DeWine. "The state has avoided its responsibility for too long—and now is the time to act. To do anything less is simply irresponsible."