Reviewing the State of the State Address: New Proposals to Drive Ohio’s Economic Recovery

In his State of the State address, Gov. John R. Kasich outlined new proposals to further strengthen Ohio’s economic recovery and extend the benefits of the state’s growing prosperity to more Ohioans. These new ideas will be part of Kasich’s 2014 Mid-Biennium Review, a supplemental budget to the FY14-15 budget bill Kasich signed into law last summer. The MBR has become a regular part of Kasich’s strategy for continuing to advance needed changes that get Ohio back on track and force state agencies to review their programs, policies and spending priorities in order to continually improve them. Highlights of the MBR proposals Kasich discussed in his State of the State speech include:

Furthering Ohio’s Economic Recovery

· A New Tax Cut—Reducing Ohio’s Income Tax Rate Below 5 Percent: The governor will propose new tax cuts that reduce Ohio’s income tax rate below 5 percent, made possible by the long-overdue reform of Ohio’s severance tax on oil and gas drilling and other tax reforms. Since taking office in 2011 he and the General Assembly have reduced taxes by $3 billion by eliminating the death tax, cutting small business taxes in half and cutting the state income tax by 10 percent. To date these and other efforts have helped Ohioans create more than 170,000 new private-sector jobs.

Strengthening Education and Workforce Training

· Dropout Prevention and Recovery: New strategies will help prevent students from dropping out of high school by identifying at-risk students earlier and developing individualized plans with an alternative path to their diploma. The Ohio Department of Education will work with local school districts to develop the policies and, if necessary, to address individual students’ learning styles, including alternatives to traditional classroom instruction, such as career training. The new strategies will help Ohio better support the nearly 24,000 students who drop out every year. Kasich will also propose a new pilot program to provide new solutions for the one million Ohio adults who never finished high school to allow them to work with Ohio’s two-year colleges and earn their high school diplomas.

· Encouraging Mentoring—Community Connectors: The governor will propose using $10 million from casino-licensing fees to support innovative community efforts that bring together parents, community organizations, faith- based groups, businesses and others in support of our schools and to mentor students. The 3-to-1 matching grants will help give more Ohio students access to role models who can help motivate and inspire them, as well as help them develop skills that lead to success in school and the workplace.

· Expanding Vocational Education: Ohio’ s high-quality network of technical and vocational education will be expanded to students as early as the 7thgrade, giving more Ohio students a jump-start on career education. School districts can opt-out of the expansion by passing resolutions.

· A Jump-Start on College—Fixing the High School-Age College Enrollment Program: An improved system to help high schools encourage more students to get credit toward college from their high school courses will give students a jump on their college careers and also help reduce college costs for them and their parents. Last year 30,000 public high school students participated in the dual-credit program, but due to the program’s complexity, that’s a small fraction of the more than 500,000 high school students who could potentially benefit from it.

· Prioritizing Graduation, Not Just Enrollment: With policies proposed in the MBR, this year Ohio will complete its transition to a new undergraduate formula for state-supported higher education funding that is based entirely on course and degree completion, not enrollment. With both four-year and two- year institutions adopting this new approach, Ohio will now lead the nation in incentivizing its public colleges and universities to achieve successful student outcomes.

· Academic Credit for Veterans’ Military Training and Experience: The governor will propose giving Ohio’s military veterans no-cost academic credit for their training and experience, as well as ensuring that veterans receive help securing federal G.I. Bill financial support to pay for professional license and certificate tests. With the U.S. Armed Forces providing some of the best training in the world in many in-demand professions, this initiative will help tear down barriers to veterans’ successful reintegration to civilian life and give Ohio job-creators better access to skilled workers.

Caring for Ohioans

· Improving Options for Ohioans and Families Coping with Mental Illness and Addiction: The governor will propose an initiative to increase access to safe places for Ohioans with mental illness and addiction, keep people off drugs and provide those in crisis with a place to seek help before they harm themselves or others. For example, a homeless veteran suffering from the effects of trauma and in need of a stable place to live will be connected to transitional housing that includes access to services to get well, find training and employment, and eventually move into a more permanent setting such as an apartment or house.

· Expanding Ohio’s New “Start Talking!” Drug Abuse Prevention Campaign: The governor will propose expanding “Start Talking!” by working with legislators to get the program adopted by more schools across Ohio. “Start Talking!” is rooted in research that shows youth are up to 50 percent less likely to use drugs when parents and adults talk with them about substance abuse.

· Tobacco Cessation: To focus on further reducing tobacco use in the state, the governor will propose allocating $8 million from the Master Settlement Agreement to the Ohio Attorney General for tobacco settlement enforcement responsibilities and $26.9 million to the Ohio Department of Health to support a five-year plan for tobacco prevention, cessation and enforcement programs.

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