COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine will soon propose “rather dramatic changes” to the foster care system and significant additional investment in mental health programs, he said Friday.
It’s part of his commitment to help every Ohioan reach their “God-given potential,” the first-term Republican told The Associated Press in a wide-ranging year-end interview at the Governor’s Residence.
Samples of what he said:
MENTAL HEALTH CARE
It’s “vitally important” that those with mental issues have the opportunity to get help as early as possible. Improving the state’s current resources is among his priorities in the new year. “Ohio is not where it needs to be in regard to mental health,” he said.
A working group DeWine has convened is nearing agreement on the parameters for spending any settlement dollars that come from lawsuits against drugmakers over their role in the opioid crisis, he said. “I think it’s, frankly, pretty much a consensus that this money be used for dealing with addiction problems.
DeWine said he has ordered his director of youth prisons to report back to him on findings this week that Ohio’s rate of assault against juvenile offenders is the highest in the nation. He said he’d like to put in place real-time monitoring of all abuse allegations.
“First of all, it’s alarming,” he said. “We have a moral obligation to make sure that the people who are incarcerated, whether young people, whether adults, are taken care of and are not abused.”
DeWine declined to discuss impeachment proceedings against Republican President Donald Trump. But the former congressman and senator said he believes his administration’s efforts at bipartisan compromise in politically divided Ohio should inspire faith that some politicians can get along.
The 72-year-old governor declined to second-guess current congressional representatives, saying being in Congress is “probably more difficult today for a lot of reasons.”
Of his successful bipartisan efforts, he said, “”I’m not cocky enough to say that I would be doing that today. I don’t know; I’m not there.”
He said he’s optimistic that a stalled package of gun-law changes will eventually make it through the Legislature. The proposal was praised by the Democratic mayor of Dayton, which was rocked by a mass shooting in August, only to run into resistance in the Republican-controlled Legislature.
“I think we’re going to pass it,” DeWine predicted Friday.
DeWine declined to discuss whether he would sign one of the two Ohio bills that included a description of a medically impossible procedure for reimplanting ectopic pregnancies. He said he wants to focus first on the legal fate of legislation, enacted in Ohio and elsewhere, that bans abortions after the first fetal heartbeat.
“Before we do another else in regard to (those bills), we should let this case work its way, we should see what the United States Supreme Court says,” DeWine said.
Asked if that meant he wouldn’t sign any more abortion bills until that decision is made, DeWine said, “I didn’t say that.” He said he is focused on the heartbeat case and not taking positions on other pending abortion legislation at this time.
DeWine said he’s proud he passed a needed gas-tax increase and a compromise state budget that added funding for mental health and children’s programs and cut income taxes for low-wage earners with support from both parties.