COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ten months into his term as governor, Mike DeWine is already looking ahead to 2020, and he said his plans will have a direct impact on Ohio’s struggling families.
DeWine talked about his emerging agenda and his first year in the governor’s office.
He said he’s trying to fix problems where the state has fallen short.
“As far as the challenges you have not heard me talk a lot about, one of them is mental health,” DeWine said.
The governor said more than a decade ago, Ohio followed the national trend to take people with mental illness out of institutions. But now, Ohio is dealing with increases in homelessness and suicide.
“I am not sure the state has stepped up as much as it should, frankly,” DeWine said. “There were a lot of promises made to families who had someone with a mental health problem then. I am not sure the state has done what it should have done. We are going to take a real hard look at this.”
Ohio can celebrate a low unemployment rate, but for employers, that creates a new problem.
“Our biggest challenge is when we talk to businessmen and women in Ohio, the tell us, ‘Look, we’re rolling. We’re growing. We could expand. We can’t find the workers, we can’t find the people'” DeWine said. “We’ve got to do a better job of preparing young people and taking people who are mid-career and giving them the tools so they can get these good jobs.”
Workforce development is also stunted by Ohio’s continuing opioid crisis. The governor wants to move forward with a three-point plan for prevention, treatment, and enforcement. And when the settlement money from pharmaceutical giants comes in, DeWine said it must be funneled to treatment.
“It’s important that all of the dollars we get out of this settlement be used for addiction as we move forward,” he said. “We don’t want to do what we did with tobacco, where we had a big settlement but that money was used for other things, good things, I’m sure, but we ended up having no money to fight the problem of smoking and smoking is at a high rate in the state of Ohio and it costs us hundreds of millions of dollars.”
DeWine said he has an ambitious agenda for early educations, maintaining the energy grid, and launching a transportation plan.
“You’ll notice I haven’t said — not very many times at least — that we are going to rely on Washington to help fix our problems,” he said. “We are going to fix our own problems in Ohio. We’ve got to roll up our sleeves and we are doing that.”