Lo­cal lead­ers push schools, work­force

Gov.-elect Mike DeWine to take of­fice Mon­day.

Dayton Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - By Laura A. Bischoff Colum­bus Bureau Jeremy P. Kel­ley Staff Writer

COLUM­BUS — The wish lists are long and the ex­pec­ta­tions are high for the in­com­ing DeWine ad­min­is­tra­tion: more money for lo­cal gov­ern­ments, ad­dress the opi­ate cri­sis, fix school fund­ing, make worker train­ing more nim­ble.

Repub­li­can Gov.-elect Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov-elect Jon Husted — who take of­fice Mon­day — have sig­naled they’ll make kids and work­ers top pri­or­i­ties in their ad­min­is­tra­tion. DeWine tapped Husted to be the point man on gov­ern­ment ef­fi­ciency projects and work­force de­vel­op­ment ini­tia­tives that aim to bridge the gap be­tween worker skills and de­mands of open jobs.

“I’m in daily con­ver­sa­tions with ma­jor Ohio em­ploy­ers who say, ‘Look, the na­ture of our work is chang­ing. We need to up­scale our work­force,’ “Husted said of worker re-train­ing ef­forts.

“This is not just an Ohio prob­lem. This is an Amer­ica chal­lenge. It’s a global chal­lenge. And the is­sue is which com­mu­ni­ties and which states get it right — they’ll be the ones that pros­per. The ones that don’t will get left be­hind.”

And lo­cal hopes are high, in part be­cause of lo­cal ties — DeWine hails from Cedarville and Husted is a Univer­sity of Day­ton grad who lived in Ket­ter­ing.

“My im­pres­sion is that Gov. Ka­sich was fo­cused on re­ally big ( job) wins, and that meant he tended to fo­cus on the Colum­bus area,” Spring­field Mayor War­ren Copeland said. “We now have a gover­nor and lieu­tenant gover­nor who know this part of Ohio well. We hope we can work with them to get state help in bring­ing more jobs to our com­mu­ni­ties.”

New start­ing point

DeWine will re­place John Ka­sich, who held the job for eight years. DeWine is in­her­it­ing a state job­less rate of 4.6 per­cent — nearly a full per­cent­age point above the na­tional rate of 3.7 per­cent; $2.7 bil­lion in the state rainy day fund; and a AA+ credit rat­ing.

But there are still se­ri­ous eco­nomic prob­lems fac­ing Ohio.

In a re­port pub­lished in March 2018, Fran Ste­wart and Bill Shkurti of the Ohio State Univer­sity John Glenn Col­lege of Pub­lic Af­fairs found: Ohio’s per capita per­sonal in­come is 9 per­cent below the na­tional av­er­age; the state lost 700,000 high-pay­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs over the past 50 years due to au­to­ma­tion and com­pe­ti­tion; and a large num­ber of peo­ple dropped out of the la­bor mar­ket, dis­cour­aged be­cause they lack the skills em­ploy­ers want.

Jeff Hoagland, Pres­i­dent and CEO of the Day­ton De­vel­op­ment Coali­tion, said his or­ga­ni­za­tion has been work­ing to en­sure the re­gion has a trained and skilled work­force, and will fo­cus in 2019 on sup­port­ing Wright-Pat­ter­son Air Force Base, the state’s largest sin­gle-site em­ployer.

“I know eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and job cre­ation will re­main a top pri­or­ity,” he said. “We look for­ward to work­ing with the new ad­min­is­tra­tion and sup­port­ing their eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment ef­forts.”

So­cial is­sues plague the state as well:

■ *Ohio’s in­fant mor­tal­ity rate of 7.4 deaths per 1,000 live births is among the high­est in the na­tion;

■ the opi­ate ad­dic­tion cri­sis is grip­ping com­mu­ni­ties and on av­er­age 13 Ohioans die ev­ery day of ac­ci­den­tal drug over­doses;

■ *the num­ber of sui­cides in­creased 37.4 per­cent be­tween 2007 and 2017;

■ the firearms death rate climbed to 12.9 per 100,000 in 2016, up from 9.6 in 2005;

■ 994,000 Ohioans have felony crim­i­nal records and the state’s prison pop­u­la­tion stands at 51,273.

Jan Le­pore-Jentle­son, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of WestCare Ohio/East End Com­mu­nity Ser­vices, said al­though opi­oid-re­lated deaths dropped in 2018, that is­sue re­mains, while metham­phetamines, co­caine and al­co­hol are killing peo­ple at a slower rate.

“The cri­sis isn’t over. It is chang­ing,” she said.

“We need on­go­ing state gov­ern­ment sup­port for ad­dic­tion treat­ment pro­grams, and sig­nif­i­cantly in­creased fund­ing for com­mu­nity pre­ven­tion ser­vices and for sup­port sys­tems for peo­ple in long-term re­cov­ery.”

Bud­get and ed­u­ca­tion

One of DeWine’s first big chal­lenges will be propos­ing a two-year state bud­get to the Gen­eral Assem­bly by March 15. The spend­ing plan, which will rep­re­sent DeWine’s pri­or­i­ties, must be adopted by June 30 by both cham­bers.

Early last week, DeWine and Husted, who is a for­mer Ohio House speaker, met briefly with Se­nate Pres­i­dent Larry Ob­hof, R-Me­d­ina, and newly named House Speaker Larry Householder, R-Glen­ford. Householder, who served as speaker be­tween 2001 and 2004, told re­porters that he wants to sup­port DeWine but he noted “I haven’t seen his agenda.”

Householder said his top is­sue is K-12 school fund­ing, which he says hasn’t been ad­dressed in a sub­stan­tive way in at least 15 years. War­ren County state Sen. Steve Wil­son, R-Maineville, sup­ported DeWine’s prom­ise to spend more on early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion, and agreed with Householder that the school fund­ing for­mula is flawed. New state Sen. Steve Huff­man, R-Tipp City, went even fur­ther on school fund­ing.

“I think we will strug­gle on the same strug­gle we’ve had for over 25 years — the il­le­gal for­mula of state ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing,” Huff­man said. “We just need to get it right.”

Huff­man re­placed Bill Bea­gle in the state Se­nate rep­re­sent­ing the 5th Dis­trict which in­cludes Day­ton and most north­ern and western suburbs along with Pre­ble, Mi­ami and part of Darke coun­ties.

There’s room for im­prove­ment in Ohio’s ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem. Fif­teen per­cent of Ohio stu­dents don’t earn a high school diploma in four years, the state’s post-sec­ondary at­tain­ment rate is below the na­tional av­er­age, and scores on na­tional tests have been flat.

Sev­eral lo­cal lead­ers had ed­u­ca­tion near the top of their pri­or­ity lists for the new ad­min­is­tra­tion, whether it was higher ed­u­ca­tion costs, ed­u­ca­tion eq­uity, early child­hood ef­forts or “so­cial-emo­tional learn­ing.”

Cen­ter­ville school Su­per­in­ten­dent Tom Hen­der­son said while ev­ery agency has an eye on the state rainy day fund, his de­sire is that state lead­ers give schools more lo­cal con­trol. He said fre­quent new state laws, such as pay­ing for high school ju­niors to take the ACT, turn into un­in­tended costs and out­comes.

“I would like to see the state al­low us more lo­cal con­trol and pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity for us to re­ally gov­ern our­selves,” he said.

Le­pore-Jentle­son wants more sup­port for “so­cial-emo­tional learn­ing” ef­forts to help at-risk stu­dents man­age stress com­ing from child­hood trauma. Der­rick Foward, pres­i­dent of the Day­ton Unit NAACP, also called for ef­forts to help at-risk kids, say­ing the state needs to make sure low-in­come com­mu­ni­ties have ed­u­ca­tional eq­uity with wealth­ier ar­eas.

“If DeWine is go­ing to do what he said on (early child­hood pro­grams), I think that’s great,” Foward said. “Ed­u­ca­tion opens doors to un­lim­ited pos­si­bil­i­ties . ... But we can­not do pre-K in lieu of (qual­ity) K-12 school fund­ing. It has to work hand in hand.”

David Young, vice chair of the board for UpDay­ton, a group for young pro­fes­sion­als, was more fo­cused on the end of the ed­u­ca­tion spec­trum, say­ing col­lege af­ford­abil­ity is a huge is­sue.

“We hear over and over from young pro­fes­sion­als that once they fin­ish school, they are stuck in a cy­cle of debt at the same time they’re try­ing to find a great job,” Young said. “It would be awe­some to have a state ini­tia­tive help­ing place those grad­u­at­ing stu­dents in jobs they are seek­ing and keep­ing them in the great state of Ohio.”

Help­ing lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties

Lo­cal gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials spoke with a uni­fied voice on their top pri­or­ity — restor­ing state “lo­cal gov­ern­ment fund” money that was cut on the back end of the re­ces­sion to bal­ance a trou­bled state bud­get.

Repub­li­can Clark County Com­mis­sioner Melanie Flax Wilt said she and Copeland, a Demo­crat mayor, are “re­ally dif­fer­ent philo­soph­i­cally.” But they both listed the lo­cal gov­ern­ment fund as their top pri­or­ity. Wilt said big Clark County pro­grams — job and fam­ily ser­vices, pub­lic safety, parks, re-en­try pro­grams for of­fend­ers — have all been strained by state cuts, forc­ing lo­cal taxes to make up for it.

“All of those things are funded by the county bud­get, and a good por­tion of that county bud­get is made up of Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Fund, or at least it once was,” she said. “We are op­ti­mistic that the DeWine ad­min­is­tra­tion will put county in­fra­struc­ture and serv­ing peo­ple in the coun­ties as a higher pri­or­ity.”

Ket­ter­ing Mayor Don Pat­ter­son said cities have the same con­cerns over state fund­ing.

“The lead­ers in Colum­bus need to un­der­stand that mak­ing Ohio a vi­brant state — one that at­tracts and re­tains res­i­dents and new busi­nesses — starts in our cities,” Pat­ter­son said. “We need them to re­store re­spect of home rule and re­turn to lo­cal gov­ern­ments the mil­lions of dol­lars in crit­i­cal fund­ing that was redi­rected to state cof­fers in the last decade.”

DeWine takes the oath of of­fice and be­comes gover­nor at 12:01 a.m. Mon­day at his home in Cedarville. He will be the first Mi­ami Val­ley man to serve as gover­nor in a cen­tury and the only Ohioan to be elected lieu­tenant gover­nor, U.S. se­na­tor, at­tor­ney gen­eral and gover­nor.

DeWine will be the 64th per­son to serve as Ohio gover­nor. Again, the five top state elected of­fices will be held by Repub­li­cans, and DeWine will have Repub­li­can su­per-ma­jori­ties in both the House and Se­nate. Wil­son, the War­ren County state rep, said he’s ex­cited that DeWine seems to want to work with the leg­is­la­ture more than Ka­sich has the past two years.

Foward, the NAACP pres­i­dent, said he hopes state lead­ers of both par­ties will look past pol­i­tics, and to the needs of every­day Ohioans.

Some­times Repub­li­cans or Democrats are so stuck in their (po­lit­i­cal) ways, and it’s not al­ways their val­ues. They for­get about all of the Amer­i­can peo­ple,” Foward said. “Our na­tion is so po­lar­ized. Let’s get in the mid­dle and make some­thing hap­pen for the Amer­i­can peo­ple.”

Gov.-elect Mike DeWine will take of­fice on Mon­day.

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