WILMINGTON — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said here that he will ask the State Legislature to back early childhood education as well as career and trades education for students in the upper grades.
The new Republican governor was the speaker Monday at the Clinton County GOP’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner held in Expo Hall on the county fairgrounds. An estimated 170 people attended.
The first five years of a child’s life are crucial, he said, pointing to studies, data, and the first-hand knowledge of parents and teachers.
“So we’re going to put a lot of emphasis on early childhood education, put a lot of emphasis on early childhood development,” said DeWine. It’s something that will make a great deal of difference, the governor added.
As to career or vocational education, he said every child in Ohio needs to see what opportunities they have.
DeWine reiterated what’s wanted is opportunities, whether it be college or in the trades or other skills, so that youths get excited about a particular career or pathway in life.
At one point, the Greene County native said what we want to do in Ohio is to expand opportunities for the young.
The most important thing, DeWine continued, is for children to be happy, focused, and find something they’re very interested in and something they could really get into and make a big difference.
He stuck with the theme of education when he turned the speech toward the “always-evolving” drug problem, as he put it.
DeWine thinks the most important thing that can be done is to start early with children, and to do something age-appropriate every year in school between kindergarten through 12th grade to prevent drug abuse.
In kindergarten it could be as simple as a lesson in not picking up a pill they find and taking it, while for older students it could include talking about good decisions — “what educators call social or emotional learning,” said DeWine.
He thinks that doing it year after year will have a big impact in keeping kids from going down a pathway of addiction.
The governor concluded his remarks by speaking about a funding crisis for highway and road projects in Ohio. ODOT (Ohio Department of Transportation) is spending $390 million annually simply to pay for prior borrowing.
There was applause when DeWine stated, “This governor is not going to take us any further in debt. It’s not the right thing to do, we can’t do this to our kids.”
Instead, “We got to pay as we go,” he said.
Revenue from the gas tax is basically flat, said DeWine, who according to The Associated Press is considering an increase in the gas tax. The state’s 28-cents-per-gallon gas tax has not been increased since 2005, and it is lower than all neighboring states except for Kentucky, stated the AP.
To fix roads in a way comparable to the recent past and to also do a modest amount of new road construction will cost about $1.5 billion “that we do not have in the budget every year,” said DeWine.
Increasing the gas tax in Ohio by 1 cent per gallon would bring in about $67 million per year, the ODOT director told The Associated Press.
In Wilmington on Monday DeWine called it “a huge, huge problem.”
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.