Ohio House Democratic lawmakers today responded to Gov. DeWine’s first State of the State Address. Democrats reaffirmed their commitment to working with the governor to deliver real results, but noted that the state has more to do to turn around years of below average quality-of-life standards that have kept too many people from getting ahead.
“We share the governor’s commitment to children and families while also recognizing the reality is that too many Ohioans feel like they’re stuck,” said House Democratic Leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron). “People don’t want just to get by, but get ahead. Democrats are committed to renewing Ohio’s promise of better jobs and brighter futures by investing in Ohio and building an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top.”
Ohio’s job growth has trailed the national average much of the past six years, and its current 4.6 percent unemployment rate ranks 6th worst in the nation. In the past decade, middle class Ohioans have seen the sixth worst decline in wages as share of total income among U.S. states. In addition, Ohio incomes have dropped more than six percent in recent decades, which ranks worse than all but three other states.
“Right now in Ohio, too many struggle to get by and too few have the opportunity to get ahead,” said Assistant Minority Leader Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus). “Getting Ohio back on the right track begins with good-paying jobs and investing in our future to ensure that people have the tools they need for a better life.”
Despite some improvements in the state’s fight against the opioid epidemic, Ohio still ranks nearly last in overdose deaths per capita. Ongoing issues with infant mortality and access to health care for women, infants and children, among other factors, rank the Buckeye State 39th in the nation in overall health.
“Too many Ohioans worry that an accident or illness will derail their plans for the future,” said Minority Whip Kent Smith (D-Euclid). “We need to come together to protect healthcare access so that working people can hold a job, start a business or plan for retirement with the security of knowing they’ll have access to quality, affordable care when they need it.”
After the last eight years of total Republican control of state government, Ohio has dropped from fifth to 23rd in education, and ranks first in student debt and near last in college affordability. Though the state has seen an uptick in high school graduation rates in recent years, rates for minority students remain among the worst in the country.
“It used to be that Ohio led the nation in education, but our kids are starting to fall behind,” said Assistant Minority Whip Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo). “To compete and grow a world-class workforce, we need to invest in our public schools. The next generation of business leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators are counting on us to get this right.”
Here is what other Democratic lawmakers are saying:
“We must recognize that there are too many people in Ohio concerned and struggling to stay healthy and protected,” said state Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron). “It’s our responsibility to secure affordable healthcare access to give all Ohioans the opportunity to achieve their goals and plan for their futures.”
“Investing in our children is a step in the right direction to ensure a better and brighter future for everyone, as I see the daily struggles of Ohioans trying to make ends meet,” said state Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland). “Our constituents want their elected officials to come together to relieve their stress of living paycheck to paycheck. There is still more work to be done to ensure that working families can get ahead.”
“I look forward to working together to improve the health and wellness of children and families in our state,” said state Rep. Beth Liston (D-Dublin).
“I was pleased to see Governor DeWine affirm his commitment to cleaning up Lake Erie, and I am hopeful we will see renewed interest in addressing environmental health across Ohio,” said state Rep. Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson). “Ohio currently ranks 40th in overall health, 46th in air pollution, and the Cleveland-Akron area ranks 9th in air pollution nationally. We must work together to ensure all of our children have access to the clean air and clean water they deserve.”
“I applaud Governor DeWine for highlighting some of the struggles middle-class families face across our state each and every day,” said state Rep. Lisa Sobecki (D-Toledo). “Education and equal opportunity are important priorities for many Ohio families. I urge the Governor to follow through on his promises to address these issues and help middle-class families succeed and get ahead.”
“I was heartened to hear Governor DeWine commit to desperately-needed investments in public health. For too long, we have reacted to public health crises rather than proactively addressing the health and wellness needs of Ohioans,” said state Rep. Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington). “But a healthy Ohio requires investment beyond the four walls of your doctor’s office. We need concrete, targeted investments in our schools, our local government services and affordable housing in our communities.”
“I appreciate the Governor’s focus on working together to help move Ohio forward. Too many Ohioans feel disconnected from their elected officials,” said state Rep. Randi Clites (D- Ravenna). “The Governor recognized the need to be a defender of the defenseless, and I hope that his proposed budget includes supportive services for our children, those with special health care needs and Ohio’s aging population.”
“I agree with Governor DeWine that we have not been investing properly in Ohio’s future. As one of the youngest lawmakers in Ohio, I have witnessed first-hand the impact of this shortcoming by watching my friends and coworkers leave this great state for better opportunities elsewhere,” said state Rep. Bride Sweeney (D-Cleveland). I look forward to working with the Governor on welcoming new people, new ideas and having a forward-looking perspective toward the future.”
“The governor’s message today was a mixed bag. On one hand, I’m encouraged by his expressed commitment to investing in substantial road and bridge repairs and working with local governments, all of which is overdue. On the other hand, I’m disheartened because he didn’t address Ohio’s desperate school funding situation at all,” said state Rep. Jeff Crossman (D-Parma). “Teachers deserve more than a mention in the governor’s speech. I think Ohioans are tired of the same talk from Columbus. Our state is ready for real progress, and it’s time to deliver real results.”
“I appreciate Governor DeWine’s speech highlighting several areas of concern within our great state. However, I was disappointed at the lack of attention paid to school funding,” said state Rep. Jessica Miranda (D-Forest Park). “As Ohio ranks 41st in education, the Governor should have put a brighter spotlight on this issue. Education is our greatest equalizer, and as we work to improve the life of Ohioans, education must be adequately funded.”
“As an educator, I appreciated Governor DeWine taking a moment to thank the teachers of Ohio and recognize the challenges they face,” said state Rep. Joe Miller (D-Lorain). “However, now begins the hard work of bringing real solutions to the classroom by empowering teachers, school boards and our local community. That begins with repealing HB70 and restoring local control over our most precious resource: our children.”
“I would like to thank Governor DeWine for his remarks and appreciate his focus on children and jobs.” said state Rep. Erica C. Crawley (D-Columbus). “However, we need to ensure the policies we put in place support children from cradle to career. When it comes to job opportunities and supporting families, the Working Families First tax credit bill is a step towards putting more money into the pockets of hardworking Ohioans.”
“I was encouraged by most of what Governor DeWine said today, and I believe we have a good starting framework of mutual goals that we can accomplish through bipartisanship,” said state Rep. Phil Robinson (D-Solon). “I’m also happy to hear that early childhood education is one of the Governor’s top priorities, because Ohio ranks only 41st in education in the nation and has the 6th worst graduation rate for black students. We are in desperate need of leadership and legislation to solve Ohio’s education crisis, return the $1 billion in funding cut during the Great Recession and invest in our children’s early education and in their futures.”