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Mike DeWine, Nan Whaley discuss their plans as Ohio Governor to improve the lives of children

Child advocate listen to gubernatorial candidates at forum on issues affecting children October 6, 2022
Jo Ingles
/
Statehouse News Bureau
Advocates on children's issues listen to gubernatorial candidates on issues that affect children during a forum on October 6, 2022.

The two candidates for Ohio governor said they will focus on making life better for the state’s kids if they win in November.

Gov. Mike DeWine, the Republican incumbent running for re-election, and Nan Whaley, the Democratic candidate for Ohio Governor, made their comments separately during a forum for Groundwork Ohio Thursday in Columbus.

DeWine told the crowd he wants the state to be number one in research and access to quality health care. He said his goal for this next term is to make sure all kids in Ohio are able to pursue a career or job training after high school.

“The worst thing that could happen is for a child to graduate from high school and have no pathway," DeWine said.

DeWine talked about how he has allocated $1.2 billion in budget spending for things like wellness clinics and counseling in schools to deal with behavioral health needs of students.

DeWine said he's put wraparound services in schools through his OhioSTART program. Those services are designed to meet multiple physical, mental, and behavioral health needs of patients and families affected by drug abuse.

He said focusing on keeping kids healthy also requires a focus on their families so he wants to make more treatment and care available in community settings.

"Our goal should be to make sure there is access to every Ohioan who needs help, to every family who needs help, that there is access within the community," DeWine said.

DeWine said the state has expanded assistance for foster kids. He also said the state has spent more than $1 billion for children's initiatives and will increase spending in that area.

DeWine said every child needs the opportunity to succeed and said government and communities have an obligation to make that a reality by addressing disparities of children whose families lack necessary resources.

DeWine left immediately after he spoke and did not answer questions from reporters.

Later, it was Whaley's turn to talk about her plans for improving the lives of children.

She said she'd continue many of investments that have been made in physical and mental health care for children and their parents. And she said she would work to break down stigmas.

Whaley also said she'd focus on making schools and kids safer by implementing part of a gun reform plan DeWine initially proposed that would keep guns out of the hands of people who could pose a danger to themselves or others.

Whaley, who took questions from reporters after the event, said she'd stand up to the members of the Ohio Legislature who oppose plans that make life better for kids and would go up against special interest groups that interfere.

"We have a weak governor that folds every single time with the state legislature," Whaley said.

Whaley said child care workers need to be paid more. But she said the costs of increasing their pay could not be passed on to families. She said the state must help pay for it instead of providing tax cuts for the wealthiest Ohioans.

"Instead of giving tax cuts to the wealthy, give it to our kids and people who provide for our kids," Whaley said.

The forum on Thursday was not a debate. Whaley and DeWine were not on the forum stage together at the same time. At this point, there are no debates scheduled before the November election.

Contact Jo Ingles at jingles@statehousenews.org.
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