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Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine gives State of the State address: 'There’s simply no better place to raise a family than Ohio'

The past two years have been filled with significant, career-defining moments for the governor.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — “Glory to Ukraine. Glory to the heroes.”

That's how Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine opened his 2022 State of the State address before declaring: “The state of our amazing state is strong! Ohio is strong!”

Wednesday's State of the State speech marked the first time Gov. DeWine delivered the address since March 5, 2019, which had been canceled for the last two years due to COVID concerns.

Here are some highlights from Gov. DeWine's speech:

Law enforcement: “While some people talk of defunding the police, we’re doubling down on our support for law enforcement. We’re doubling down our support for law enforcement by giving them more resources to keep the people of Ohio safe.”

We streamed Gov. DeWine's entire speech, which you can watch in full below: 

Money: “Working together, we slashed state spending at the time of the pandemic by a whopping $1.2 billion. We cut taxes by more $3.6 billion, creating Ohio’s lowest taxes in more than 40 years. Leaving more money for businesses to reinvest in our economy and create jobs – and to put more money in the pockets of our fellow citizens.”

COVID: “We continue to pray for those who died from COVID, and we pray for their families. My fellow Ohioans, two years ago at this time we began our battle against an invisible and a deadly enemy. My fellow citizens, here in Ohio, you did what Ohioans have always done: You rallied together. You made extraordinary sacrifices and you showed the world that Ohioans are resilient. We owe such a debt to our healthcare workers, our nurses, our doctors, our first responders, frontline workers, grocery store clerks, restaurant workers, local health department personnel, our teachers, all educators and so many others, all of whom stepped up in countless ways over these past two years.”

Great quality of life in Ohio: “No matter where you live in Ohio, you’re within driving distance of amazing art, great theater, major league sports. And there’s education: We have 14 public universities – great universities, 74 amazing private colleges and universities, 23 community colleges and a host of great career centers all over the state of Ohio. We have a world-class state fair that is back this year. There’s simply no better place to raise a family than Ohio.”

Jobs and manufacturing: “Our unemployment rate is only 4.3 percent, near historic lows. Manufacturing is flourishing. Ohio has always been a great manufacturing state, but now we’re bringing in the highest tech manufacturing known to man into the state of Ohio – and guess what? The world is taking notice. Just a few short weeks ago we announced the single-largest economic development investment by one company in the history of the state of Ohio. Intel Corporation will be investing $20 billion in Ohio – and that’s just the first phase – to build two new state-of-the-art fabrication facilities to make semiconductor chips. Now this will impact not just central Ohio, but the entire state, as many of their suppliers will be moving to Ohio.”

RELATED: 'A great day in Ohio history': Intel announces $20 billion plan to build 2 new factories with 20,000 jobs

Editor's note: Video in the player above was originally published in a previous story regarding Intel in Ohio on Jan. 21, 2022.

Mental health: “We’ve started the reform of Medicaid out of our really shared commitment to multi-system kids to a program that we’re calling Ohio Rise. Under Ohio Rise, children who have multiple medical and behavioral health challenges will now get the help that they need and get it in their own communities. Parents will no longer be forced to give up custody in order to get the children the help they need. Families under Ohio Rise will stay together. We’ve also worked to create a landmark program to address the mental and physical needs of children right in their own school buildings – for two budgets you’ve supported this. We specifically focused dollars for schools across Ohio to provide for on-site medical clinics, additional counselors, mental health services, prevention after-school care, family support, access to healthcare, as well as new training and programming around childhood trauma and mental health for our most vulnerable children. ... Mental illness remains on the rise in Ohio. Suicide is one of the top 10 causes of death for Ohioans age 10 to 24. With the rate rising in rural Ohio and in communities of color, accidental drug overdose deaths remain at record levels. The shared adversity of the COVID pandemic has worsened rates of depression, anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Access to care still remains elusive for far too many Ohioans.”

Gov. DeWine also outlined ways to make "help visible, accessible and effective in all communities in the state of Ohio.

  • We must grow our behavioral health workforce.
  • Increasing research and innovation.
  • Building a community capacity for care that offers better crisis response services and treatment, increased prevention efforts and more residential / outpatient services.

“I see an Ohio where shame, fear, stigma and embarrassment are erased. I see an Ohio where mental illness is treated as a health issue, not as a crime. Those who seek help are met with respect and treated with the dignity that they deserve.”

State parks: “Members of the General Assembly, Our dream is for Ohio to have the best state park system in the country. In the weeks and months ahead, I’ll be asking you to reinvest in our magnificent state parks as I know we share a commitment to preserving their natural beauty and the natural beauty that God has graciously bestowed upon Ohio. By continuing to invest in our parks, when visitors come they will feel like family. They will say, ‘This is Ohio.’”

Gaps in access to opportunity for too many children: “We have a moral obligation to do everything in our power to remove these barriers and to help them succeed. Every child needs a responsible, reliable adult in their lives. For most kids that’s members of their family: Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles. But we also know that tragically there are some children in Ohio – and they’re all over Ohio – who don’t have that, or at least don’t have it consistently. All children need mentors. Someone they can look up to. Someone they can count on. Someone who can help them in school and keep them out of trouble, away from the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Someone who can teach them life skills, and help them deal with the challenges of growing up and the added burdens of living in difficult, chaotic, stressful, complex situations. Members of the General Assembly, we have the ability to transform the lives of so many kids who for whatever reason don’t have somebody in their young lives who can be that role model. In the coming days, I intend to work with you and with community leaders and with our colleges and universities to create a combined scholarship and mentorship program that can be replicated all over Ohio so that no child in the state lacks the guidance and direction that they need.”

Highway safety and distracted driving: “Too many Ohio family members are still being lost on our highways. In fact, last year fatalities on our roads in Ohio were at their highest level since 2002. We all know – everybody knows because we drive and we see things – distracted driving is a key factor behind so many of these crashes. There were nearly 12,000 distracted driving-related crashes reported in Ohio last year causing more than 300 serious injuries and at least 43 deaths. 39 percent of these crashes involved drivers who were 15 to 24. We must do more. Ohioans, I believe, want us to do this. A 2021 survey of Ohio drivers found that 78 percent of respondents support legislation to toughen our laws on distracted driving. … House Bill 283 is pending before you now, that if passed, will significantly help decrease distracted driving tragedies. 24 other states have implemented similar legislation, and in those states they have seen significant reductions in serious and fatal accidents. My friends, lives are at stake. Please pass this bill.”

Dolly Parton Imagination Library: “They provide a book each month to Ohio children ages 0 to 5. When we started, only 13 percent of Ohio’s eligible kids were receiving these books. Now that number has risen to 43 percent. So far, over 6.9 million books have been mailed to children in all 88 counties. This month we’re up to nearly 313,000 children who will receive an age-appropriate book in the mail at no cost to that family. We know that a child’s brain is 80 percent developed by the time they turn 3 years of age. So these first years of development are so very important. Enrollment in the Imagination Library improves kindergarten readiness and family literacy habits. No matter where you live in Ohio, your child and your grandchild is now eligible.”

RELATED: Dolly Parton's Imagination Library program hits milestone in Northeast Ohio with 1 million books mailed

Editor's note: Video in the player above was previously published in a story regarding the Imagination Library on March 16, 2022.

Closing statement: “Ohio, is making some noise. People are going to have to pay attention to us. We are, in fact, coming for it all.”

Response from Democratic leaders:

Ohio Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko: “You know, I was kind of disappointed today, we didn’t hear a lot about guns. You know, when you think about we’re going on our third year anniversary in Dayton. I think we’ve all seen these buttons all over Ohio, it says 'do something.' When Governor DeWine went down to Dayton after the shooting, the people of Dayton said Mr. Governor, do something. We came back to the state house, we talked among ourselves, and we said what we need to do is do something. And what have we done? We passed your Stand Your Ground Bill. How does that help? It doesn’t. We’ve given permission for people to carry a gun without any training, without informing law enforcement [if] you get pulled over. Putting not only the individual at risk but the police officer as well.”

Ohio House Minority Leader Allison Russo: “Democrats have stood up for the vast majority of Ohioans who overwhelmingly voted for fair maps. Fair districts mean better representation, which means better, more responsive government by and for the people. We won’t stop fighting until Ohioans get the fair maps that they deserve.”

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