COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gov. Mike DeWine will give his State of the State address, in which he will discuss how he plans on using Ohioans' tax dollars, at noon on Tuesday.
Watch the address live below at 12 p.m.:
After a divisive month at the Statehouse, the governor is tasked with unifying Ohio. House Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) is feeling optimistic, at least for hearing DeWine's priorities.
"You have to be willing to work across the aisle, and I think that that's important," Russo told News 5. "I think based on what the governor's comments have been leading up to this, we are going to find lots of areas of alignment."
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said the administration is focusing on bipartisan goals.
"Our focus in this upcoming budget is going to be on people — eliminating the barriers that are in people's lives," he said.
Those barriers include a lack of access to affordable housing, mental health support, addiction resources, childcare services and education opportunities. The budget the DeWine/Husted team is proposing this year should combat these inequities, he added.
"All of those things are barriers that we want to knock down and get people off the bench and into the game, leading a productive, hopeful life here in Ohio," Husted said. "Look, our aspiration is to make Ohio the go-to state in the Midwest."
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With major economic projects starting in the state, a larger workforce and budget for workers is mandatory, Husted said.
"We need to make sure that we're balancing that with the freedom and opportunity that people want in their lives and allow them to live just their version of the American dream right here in Ohio, whatever that is, whether that's an urban Ohio or rural Ohio," he added. "We're a state that has it all and we want to keep it that way."
But Russo said Ohio needs to do more than just throw money at this problem.
"We also know that for businesses to want to come here, for people to want to stay here or move here, we have to ensure that Ohio is a place that is welcoming for all," she said.
She wants to avoid controversial bills — like policies surrounding abortion or the LGBTQ+ community. This could be accomplished by Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill).
The Republican, with help from Russo and her Democrats, won the leadership position over state Rep. Derek Merrin (R-Monclova Twp.), a more far-right conservative.
Since then, Merrin’s followers have revolted and formed a "new caucus," dividing the Republican party. This faction has shown they will be fighting against Stephens at every opportunity.
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"I hope everybody, Republicans and Democrats, will be focused on constructive conversations as we put some of the rifts of the election behind us and we get focused on the priorities of the state," Husted said about the bickering. "There are a lot of things in the budget the governor's going to be introducing that can get people of all political stripes to rally around."
"People send us here not to have inter-party squabbles or to vote strictly along partisan lines — they send us here to do the work of the people," Russo added. "And my caucus will be focused on that."
Stephens has needed to rely on the Democrats to get the house rules passed, and it's expected he will need them to get the budget through, as well.
Due to the two GOP factions, neither Republican group has 50 votes. Even though there are only 32 Democrats out of 99 lawmakers, the progressives are sitting in a beneficial position to have the Speaker consult with them.
Russo and Stephens are regularly communicating, she said. She is anticipating some major differences since Stephens is still a conservative, but both are "committed to getting work done for the people."
"As I said to him, we will support him as long as we can find those areas of alignment, but we will also push back and we won't be beholden to that support if there are things that we disagree on and there certainly will be."
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