This week, the state legislature held its opening session day of the 132nd General Assembly. A day of formality filled with much ceremony and history, 99 members were sworn into the Ohio House of Representatives. This storied institution welcomed back many familiar faces, including some who are coming to the House after serving in the Ohio Senate.
There were also several new members who were sworn in for the first time, eager to hit the ground running on behalf of their constituents. With a combination of legislative authorities and the energy and creativity of freshman legislators, the new term is sure to be a success for Ohio.
In my opening speech on our first day of session, I outlined several policy issues that, as Speaker, I intend to make a priority as I lead the Ohio House over the next two years. First, we must build and maintain a thorough and efficient educational system—for everyone from the kindergartner stepping onto the bus for the very first time, to the recent vocational school or college graduate who has just been handed a diploma. Our investment in education will help lead Ohioans to greater economic, cultural, and social achievement. Our children and students are truly the future of this state.
Additionally, we will continue to build upon the success of our economic policies and seek to provide further tax relief for Ohioans while keeping a tight rein on state government spending. We have done much work in this regard, reducing our tax burden and enacting policies that encourage job growth, evidenced by the nearly 450,000 jobs created since 2011.
However, we must continue along this path to ensure the future success of Ohio’s economic health. By creating greater predictability and certainty in our state budgeting and taking on tough issues like unemployment compensation reform, I am confident that our goal to keep Ohio’s economy strong is achievable.
Another issue of the utmost seriousness that we will continue to tackle head on is drug addiction in our state. Small towns across Ohio are hardly recognizable; the opioid and heroin epidemic has ravaged many of our families and neighborhoods. In the coming weeks, the Ohio House will unveil a new policy agenda addressing the issue. This is a strategy of treatment, prevention, and education, in addition to a more aggressive response to drug-related violence that threatens our communities and law enforcement officers who work every day to keep us safe. This issue has challenged us time and time again, but we must not falter in our efforts to combat it.
There is a wealth of topics on which to focus, but I am looking forward to the next two years and to working alongside the members and staff from both sides of the aisle to craft solutions to the concerns Ohioans still face every day.
We are ambitious, and there is much work to be done, but I know that by coming together and working as one, we can undertake the distinct responsibility of serving the men and women of this great state.
Cliff Rosenberger is the Ohio House Speaker.