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  • Nick Bates

The State of the State in 2022

The real state of Ohio is concerning. As we begin to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, we have many scars that are now visible in our world. The pandemic exposed the wealth inequality that’s been around for many years

In his 2022 “State of the State” address to the Ohio legislature, Governor Mike DeWine lifted up many important issues, such as clean water in Lake Erie, mental health services, and resources for children.

Notably, he also claimed that “Ohio is the best place to raise a family.” Unfortunately, Ohio is trailing the nation in many key indicators, such as infant mortality, hunger, foreclosure rates, poverty, and wages. Until we address these issues that impact so many communities, the truth is that we’re probably not the place to raise a family at the moment.

However, we do have the potential to be the best state for families. Rich and poor, Black and white, rural towns or big cities, Ohioans all want a few key things: healthy communities, strong schools, and opportunities to thrive. The question is, how do we get there?

Governor DeWine uplifted our beautiful state parks, but as long as we are not caring for our environment and have polluted waters, we’re going to struggle to maintain these things that attract families and add to our quality of life.

The governor mentioned expanding behavioral healthcare and mental healthcare services, specifically addressing children’s mental and behavioral health issues. We support our public schools, as many teachers, principals, and counselors are excited by the federal dollars that are currently helping our schools hire staff to provide these services. But despite this, many school buildings in our communities still don’t even have full-time school nurses. A gap remains between our students and the available services and support they need to thrive, succeed, and stay healthy in school.

The federal government has provided some important resources during the pandemic, but as the pandemic winds down, and these resources start going away, we need to ask: where is the state, where is our legislature, where is our governor in helping to make sure these gaps do not grow even wider?

When we want to see where someone’s priorities are, we can look at their budget. Governor DeWine has signed two budgets that included massive tax cuts for the wealthy. The legislature has relied on tax cuts for almost 20 years, dating all the way back to 2005. When we focus on tax cuts for the wealthy, we’re not focused on making the investments needed.

For example, Governor DeWine mentioned Ohio’s infant mortality rate. If we want to really address Ohio’s infant mortality rate, we need to invest in affordable housing and healthcare. If that’s the case, why are we cutting $3 billion in taxes for the wealthy when we could be investing those dollars into affordable housing or expanded healthcare facilities?

There are many issues we could be prioritizing right now, and Ohio has the opportunity to step back as we emerge from the pandemic to think about what the new normal is going to be moving forward. How are we going to build up strong schools — not just this year or next year, but for the long term — so that every student, regardless of zip code, race, and the wealth of their parents, have these opportunities?

There’s so many things we can do right now to set Ohio up for success, but we need to make those moves now. Only then will Governor DeWine be correct in saying that Ohio is the best state to raise a family in.

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