DeWine Makes No Promises on Local Government Funding, ‘Will See What I Can Do’

Speaking to associations representing county commissioners and county engineers Monday, Gov.-elect Mike DeWine said he wouldn’t make promises on whether he would restore cuts to the Local Government Fund made under the Kasich administration, but said he would look at it and promised some services will get more state support.

“We are a local government state. I like that. I’m not going to change that,” DeWine told the County Commissioners Association of Ohio and the County Engineers Association of Ohio Winter Conference on Monday. “We are going to try to be a good partner.”

DeWine addressed the groups Monday along with House Speaker Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) and Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina).

DeWine said that he is fully aware that counties have been hit with cuts to the fund as well as the opioid crisis, which he said has caused strains on children services, emergency responders and local jails that have become detox centers.

He said while he wouldn’t make promises on the Local Government Fund, he will be significantly increasing the amount of money going to counties for children’s services, noting that Ohio is 50th in states that send state money to children services. He also said that his administration will be looking to fund more multi-county task forces that will go after Mexican drug cartels and other suppliers of the drug crisis.

DeWine also highlighted some of the programs he has previously talked about, including those to help early childhood and aimed at decreasing the skills gap.

He said local governments will find that he is a good listener, and that he will be traveling around the state as governor to hear their issues.

He told reporters he expects to announce more cabinet appointments in a few more days.

Smith, who spoke first of the three, told the audience about legislation that Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) is working on that would give a cost of living adjustment for local and state-elected officials. A spokesman for Smith later told Hannah News that details are being worked out on the proposal, including if and when it might come to the floor.

Obhof also noted the cost of living adjustment, saying both chambers have been working together and recognize local officials are working hard. He said they also recognize that local governments could use some relief, but did not outline what that relief might be.

Both Smith and Obhof praised local officials for their work in defeating Issue 1, the proposed constitutional amendment that would have required probation in many drug possession cases. Smith noted they have begun work on new rules for constitutional amendments to protect Ohio’s Constitution through HJR19 (LaTourette-Holmes), and said that discussion will continue in the next General Assembly.

Obhof also reiterated previous comments on protecting Ohio’s Constitution from out-of-state interests and what he called a “cottage industry” in Columbus to get those issues on the ballot. He said they want to pass something that preserves the right to do initiatives and referendums, but also puts reasonable safeguards in place so the process is not driven by special interests.

Obhof noted work on sentencing reforms, which have begun as part of SB324 (Obhof-Eklund), which he said is basically a placeholder bill as they discuss what Ohio’s sentencing laws look like.

He said he has asked Sen. John Eklund (R-Chardon) to begin looking at solutions for paying for infrastructure improvements, noting that the gas tax is becoming a less and less reliable way to fix Ohio’s roads. Obhof said he doesn’t want to get to 2020 and wonder where all of Ohio’s money went for improving roads.

Story originally published in The Hannah Report on December 10, 2018.  Copyright 2018 Hannah News Service, Inc.