K-12 Wraparound Services, Lake Erie, Public Health Are DeWine's Budget Priorities

Jan 7, 2021

In 2020, Republican state lawmakers introduced and passed bills to restrict fellow Republican Gov. Mike DeWine’s authority in pandemic-related health orders. Four of them drafted articles of impeachment against him. All that could make the upcoming process of creating the new two-year state budget difficult.

The pandemic-hit economy means less money for Gov. Mike DeWine and state lawmakers to work with in crafting the upcoming two-year state budget. While December's tax receipts were $64.2 million above the budgeted estimate, total tax receipts are down 10%.

The budget needs to be presented to lawmakers this month.

DeWine said his budget priorities will be mental health and wellness wraparound programs in schools, which got $675 million in the last budget.

"For our kids in K-12 who might need help from a mental health point of view or from some other wellness point of view that's been very well received. We will keep that money in this year's budget.”

DeWine said he also wants to fund his H20hio Lake Erie cleanup program. And he said in this budget, he wants to put more money into public health.

“We've been trying to build a health department, frankly, build that department up during a time that we're engaged in a war. And that's not been easy. But our budget coming up will reflect the priority of public health," DeWine said.

DeWine’s first budget in 2019 got unanimous approval in both chambers’ finance committees and passed with 17 no votes in the House and only one no in the Senate.  But the budget passed 17 days after the July 1 deadline, in part because of debates about lowering the small business tax deduction, which allows businesses to take the first $250,000 of their income tax-free. DeWine vetoed 25 items in it, including a guarantee on per-pupil funding for school districts, saying that the wealthiest school districts would benefit the most. This came after a compromise to raise the gas tax by 10.5 cents.

Republican lawmakers proposed several bills that would restrict DeWine's authority in public health orders, and he vetoed two of them: one on shutting down businesses, and one that would lower fines for violating those orders. Four Republicans drafted articles of impeachment, but that went nowhere.

But in spite of the pushback from lawmakers last year, DeWine said the budget process in 2019 showed he has a constructive, good relationship with the legislature.