Live budget updates: DeWine sees 'a time to invest,' so no more tax cuts

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Live from the 31st floor of the Riffe Tower, where Gov. Mike DeWine’s administration is laying out his first two-year budget proposal.

In contrast to budgets of the past eight years, this budget contains no tax cuts.

“We have things we need to invest in,” DeWine said. “This is a time to invest in Ohio and invest in Ohioans.”

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, former speaker of the House, said earlier budgets contained tax cuts because businesses then pointed to high taxes as their main impediment to competing. But now it’s lack of skilled workforce, so an investment is required.

The $500 million for at-risk kids is the only increase in school funding in the DeWine budget. Every district will get some of that money, but it may be minimal for districts with small numbers of at-risk students.

Otherwise, the basic funding formula from the administration of Gov. John Kasich remains unchanged.

The Ohio House is working on a revamp that likely will be rolled out once they get the governor’s budget.

State budget director Kim Murnieks said the pace of Ohio’s economic growth is expected to slow.

Bottom line for the budget is about $68 billion over two years: $33.68 billion this year, $35.30 billion next year.

Growth of general revenue fund budget: 1.18, billion next year, 1.62 billion the following year.

State revenue expected to total $23.99 billion next year, $23.49 billion the following year.

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The budget attempts to break down the path for students who want to attend both a career center and college, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said.

“We are changing the culture of how we educate and train people in the state of Ohio,” he said. “Ohio can be the most creative and innovative state in the Midwest.”

State government will use technology to improve many interactions with citizens, Husted said.

Combining state data can help the state predict who is going to become an opioid addict, and bring intervention earlier, he said.

“We will ultimately save taxpayers money when we get better outcomes,” Husted said. “This budget meets the challenge of the times.”

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“We’re investing in the things that matter,” said Lt. Gov. Jon Husted after DeWine’s half-hour presentation.

Husted’s task has been coming up with a plan to develop Ohio’s workforce. He said some developments are at a standstill because potential employers can’t find Ohioans with the right job skills.

Husted said the budget takes “an incredibly aggressive approach” to give employers the talented workers they need, and train Ohioans to attain the skills they need for these new jobs.

He wants to create 5,000 new STEM graduates a year — science, technology, engineering and math.

Husted wants to increase by 10,000 a year Ohio high school graduates with industry certificates for cybersecurity and other such in-demand fields.

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In contrast to his GOP predecessor, Gov. John Kasich, DeWine promises more funding for Ohio’s local governments. For example, he is substantially increasing state funding to help counties provide adequate defense lawyers for the poor who face criminal charges, which DeWine said will improve the chances for a fair trial.

“By this budget we are saying state budget needs to step up more” in local government funding, he said.

“We are taking the long view” in this budget, said DeWine, Ohio’s oldest governor. “Now is the time to tackle our unfinished business … We can lead the nation in creating jobs … in our workforce .. in our school .. in the health and well-being of our citizens.”

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DeWine wants every public college and university to enact guaranteed tuition rates, which won’t change through their time in higher education.

On the environment, DeWine notes he proposed $900 million — over 10 years — to clean up Ohio waterways, especially Lake Erie.

Setting aside the money now, instead of using bonds, will save $475 million in future interest payments, he said.

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Budget invests more than $500 million for schools to partner with organizations in local communities to help at-risk kids, the governor said.

“This targeted money will give all of Ohio children a chance for a brighter future,” he said.

“Many of our children are suffering great trauma. Many of our children are suffering from mental health challenges.”

This financial commitment raises DeWine’s commitment to nearly $1 billion in new spending.

No other mention so far of K-12 school funding.

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As expected, DeWine is all about “children first” in his budget: combating infant mortality and lead poisoning, and finding homes for foster children.

“We are committed to these kids,” DeWine said.

He notes Ohio is dead last in funding children services, so he wants to increase it by 95 percent.

“It’s wrong, we are changing that with this budget.”

DeWine says the state should invest in a “sustained, multimedia campaign” aimed at keeping young people off drugs, starting in kindergarten.

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First, the important stuff: Yes, DeWine had pie yesterday on pi day: Buttermilk, made of course by his wife, Fran.

DeWine emphasizes the new budget contains “no new taxes.”

He called in “a balanced, conservative approach that will continue to yield returns decades into the future.”

The DeWine budget is called Investing in Ohio’s Future.

That means, DeWine said, investing in things that we know work.

“This is a prudent, long-term investment in our future.”

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What we know going in: The additional spending outlined by DeWine in days leading up to today’s rollout totals nearly $445 million over the next biennium.

Proposals unveiled so far:

• Funding up to $900 million over 10 years for the new H2Ohio fund to help protect Lake Erie from farm-nutrient-fed algal blooms and preserve the quality of other waterways that feed Ohio water supplies.

• Adding $74 million annually for family and children services to help improve a system choked with foster children whose parents are addicted to opioids and other drugs.

• Spending $50 million to triple home-visitation programs in which counselors work with pregnant women and new mothers, babies and young children to help reduce infant mortality and improve school readiness.

• Providing an extra $24 million to cover the health-care needs of children poisoned by lead paint and setting aside $10 million in Medicaid funds to help abate lead in afflicted homes.

• Handing $22 million in new “crisis stabilization” funding to county mental health and recovery boards to spend on services such as respite care and transitional housing.

• Spending $7.5 million to create 30 more “specialty docket courts,” typically “drug courts” that divert low-level offenders to local treatment instead of county jails and state prisons.

• Granting a 10 percent, nonrefundable state income tax credit to individuals who invest to build business and boost employment in job-hungry, low-income Opportunity Zones carrying federal tax incentives.

drowland@dispatch.com

@DarrelDRowland