A growing Ohio public health crisis is ravaging our families and our communities. Over 17,000 Ohioans died of drug overdoses from 2010-2016, many attributable to abuse of prescribed opioids. Researchers at OSU now estimate the cost of the crisis to Ohio at somewhere between $6.6 billion and $8.8 billion every year.
This crisis is killing about 14 Ohioans every day. Many others are effectively disabled by addiction, unable to function or to qualify for many jobs. The number of opioid-related deaths among African-Americans has more than tripled since 2010. Also unconscionable is the fact that 28% of children taken into the state’s protective custody over this period had parents using opioids. Of the children in state care under the age of one, 70% had opioid-involved parents.
We must get illegal drugs like heroin and meth off our streets. But as many local law enforcement leaders have made clear, we cannot simply arrest our way out of this problem. Overprescription of painkillers must be restricted. Treatment and prevention efforts must also be front and center. Recent activity forcing the closure of opioid pill mills without adequate human service resources in place have undercut our efforts to address these issues effectively.
Local first responders must have the resources and tools they need for prevention, education, and law enforcement efforts stemming from this crisis. Cutting local government funding for first responders has been shortsighted and detrimental. Naloxone continues to be seen by experts as a constructive approach to preventing overdose deaths. Treatment bed availability continues to be a central challenge.
After years of inaction, state officials have only recently begun to take any steps to address this crisis that ballooned to epic proportions on their watch. Many cities and counties and states are now belatedly suing pharmaceutical companies and distributors that have directly contributed to Ohioans’ addiction to narcotic painkillers. We must have an all-hands-on-deck effort to stem the crisis plaguing our state.
Implement "State of Emergency" Coordination - This crisis is like a non-stop hurricane. As Governor, Rich would immediately declare a “state of emergency” requiring the strategic coordination of federal, state, and local government resources and community-based efforts - for both the short run and the long run. We will create clear, reliable channels for information flow about local needs and recommendations, supporting implementation of community-based solutions.
Protect the Medicaid Expansion and Increase Local Capacity - Funding for treatment and prevention efforts is critically tied to continuing the Medicaid expansion. We cannot allow this framework and these resources to be rolled back. The state cannot dither while we wait for further guidance from Congress – we must act to protect Ohioans now. Training, data sharing, and program options that support law enforcement and first responders must be reinforced. Better mapping and statistical analysis can allow more effective use of scarce resources.
Expand Access and Funding for Prevention and Treatment - We must go further to improve access to prevention and treatment services. Local government funding must be bolstered. Dozens of pending lawsuits must hold companies accountable for harming our people and our communities, and we must require industry officials to provide resources to address the devastating effects.
Provide Support and Resources for Families and Improve Foster and Adoptive Services - Family and friends of those struggling with addiction are often left isolated and overwhelmed. More educational and support resources are key to their roles in helping loved ones find successful treatment and recovery. Children who are at risk due to the behavior of parents and caregivers must be protected and supported wherever possible. We must seek new approaches to increase foster and adoptive services for the growing number of children and grandchildren left behind by the opioid crisis.
Replace Economic Despair with Broader Economic Opportunity - Clearly this epidemic is substantially a product of economic despair and hopelessness. Along with all of the other needed interventions, people all over Ohio must see that good jobs are available and that an alternative to addiction is a reality. Creating jobs and pathways to those jobs in communities throughout the state, not just in certain enclaves, is another critical element of confronting this crisis successfully.
As Attorney General, Rich teamed up to connect local law enforcement with retailers who sell products used to make methamphetamine. Cooperation and coordination with local law enforcement and local treatment officials are central to fighting the opioid epidemic effectively.
As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Betty was a steadfast supporter of funding for adequate drug treatment and services, including the ACA, which provided prevention and health services to people across Ohio.
Since 2014, 6 of Ohio's 7 major economic areas have posted job growth that was below the national average. The Youngstown and Akron areas actually had net job loss over that period. Ohio has fewer jobs today than it had in 2001.
Another paper will examine prior and current approaches to job growth, including the past performance of the Department of Development, the current Jobs Ohio program, the Third Frontier initiative, and brownfields redevelopment. But local communities need to be equal partners in job growth strategies, including siting, community development, and workforce development. Currently, many communities in Ohio feel left out or left behind. We must be more effective in spreading economic opportunity around the state.
At the same time, we are missing other opportunities that are right in front of us. Small businesses rooted in local communities frequently create quality jobs that stand the test of time. Ohio has 939,317 small businesses (99.6% of all Ohio businesses) that employ 2.1 million people – which is almost half of our private sector workforce. It is widely recognized that small businesses produce the bulk of the new jobs created in this country. Small businesses, nurtured with appropriate resources and support, can foster sustainable economic growth and innovation in communities across Ohio.
But making this happen will require intensive focus and effort on the part of state officials who must be willing to partner closely with local communities, local businesses, and local investors and financing sources. It will require a strategy that understands and works with the capital investment markets to bring more, and more timely, venture capital and other bank and non-bank financing into Ohio communities that are in serious need of sustained capital investment to grow jobs and economic opportunity.
Provide Better Tax Incentives, Grants and Small Business Loans – More effective focus on job training, infrastructure, transportation, and child care initiatives can create new businesses to meet those needs as well as help existing businesses grow in our communities. We need to incentivize business growth with available job training. We will launch "Startup in a Day" to allow entrepreneurs to get all required permits in a single day. We must also allocate specific funds for small businesses and MBE/EDGE companies.
More Transparency – Ohio should conduct full audits of development programs that deploy public funds. The essential value and benefit of these efforts must be documented and justified. We need to take measures to ensure accountability and appropriate contract review in these support programs for small businesses.
Empower a New Small Business Chief – Laser-like focus on job growth from our small businesses requires 24/7 attention from a senior leader with a strong team. Consolidating responsibility to help small businesses grow jobs includes:
Business Services/Business Development Support – Ohio must directly help small businesses access quality, low-interest capital at timely moments. They also need regulatory compliance assistance (pre- and post-launch); business education resources; mentoring/networking for entrepreneurs; help with siting, in partnership with local communities; help matching job seekers with business needs; and guidance and outreach on government contracting opportunities.
Community Development – We need competitive grant programs for community-based organizations, training them to build capacity through storefront improvements, neighborhood beautification and revitalization, urban planning, and leadership training to build local capacity. We must spread out this support to small and mid-sized towns around Ohio. Fellowship program should support hiring of recent high school and college graduates to do community development work (an “Ohio Peace Corps for our communities).
Economic Empowerment – We must certify minority/women-owned businesses (M/WBE), streamline competition for public contracts; target programs and mentoring; do proactive outreach on contracting opportunities for M/WBEs; help lenders create targeted low-interest loan programs; and encourage more entrepreneurs from historically disadvantaged populations.
Betty supported and Congress passed the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, a major overhaul of SBA loan programs to make it easier for small businesses to get loans and access capital, which saved or created 1.3 million jobs annually.
Rich was named the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Financial Services Champion of the Year for 2008. As Ohio Treasurer, he led Ohio’s GrowNow program of low-interest loans for small businesses, which helped them expand their operations or develop new product lines, all of which produced many thousands of sustainable, high-quality jobs based in our communities.
Reliable access to quality health care saves lives, promotes stable and healthy lifestyles, and provides security to Ohioans across the social and economic spectrum. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), which Betty voted for in Congress, has benefited a huge number of Ohioans by providing them with greater access to affordable health care, which is a major worry for people and their families. The ACA has allowed more than 666,000 Ohioans to gain coverage and more than 80,000 Ohioans under the age of 26 have been able to remain on their parents’ healthcare plans. Yet politicians in Washington, D.C. are currently seeking to strip away the health care protections that people need. We must fight to keep our health care and help Ohioans manage any gaps in coverage.
In addition, Ohio is one of the states that has adopted and implemented the Medicaid expansion, which has expanded access to affordable health care and bolstered the key medical sector of Ohio’s economy. This has been good for Ohioans, but more still needs to be done. Our uninsured rate is the 13th highest in the nation. And the state legislature remains opposed to the Medicaid expansion, seeking to eliminate it or freeze enrollment, putting these benefits at risk. We must make sure that our most vulnerable continue to receive access to healthcare. We can reduce inefficiencies in cost management, but access and affordability problems cannot be wished away. The coverage gaps are real, and we must assure basic health care rights to all Ohioans.
In 2016, more than 103,000 Ohio children went without health insurance. We cannot claim to be invested in our children’s futures if they are denied access to doctors and treatment. Betty co-sponsored the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and has been a leader on children's health issues for years. We need leadership to ensure that no Ohio child is left behind without essential access to health care.
Protect the Medicaid Expansion to Keep Our Health Care - Maintaining Ohio’s Medicaid expansion is crucial to protect healthcare services for families in our cities and rural communities, reduce infant mortality, and battle opiate addiction. Changes to current law must not be allowed to hurt seasonal workers, veterans, or the disabled. And we must reject punitive new cost-sharing proposals.
Improve the Exchanges to Provide More Choice, Reduce Costs, and Ensure Access Across the State - Last summer, 19 Ohio counties lacked insurers in their individual exchange market. Medicaid filled in, but lack of competition means higher costs and higher rates. Insurers need incentives to enter rural counties and providers on the exchange must cover the entire state. This will help limit closures of local hospitals and clinics that create community health care vacuums. Other states are having better performance on their exchanges and we need to learn from them and improve Ohio’s performance accordingly.
Expand Children’s Health Insurance Coverage in Ohio - We can expand coverage under the CHIP program in Ohio in a cost-effective manner. Ohio is one of the the worst states on infant mortality. Central Ohio’s Celebrate One campaign and other local initiatives address this challenge and should be taken statewide. Health care must be a certainty for children - and for mothers with young children.
Tackle Ohio's Opioids Addiction Crisis - Opioids have caused a growing Ohio public health crisis that is ravaging our communities. Rich and Betty’s plan for the appropriate treatment, education, and law enforcement tools needed to tackle this epidemic is addressed in a separate issue paper on the Opioid Crisis.
Focus Resources for Women and Children - The state legislature has pursued a narrow ideological agenda that has hurt women’s health programs in Ohio. It defunded Planned Parenthood’ programs for women’s health. It rolled back the rule requiring employers to provide contraceptive coverage, which had sharply reduced birth rates among teenagers. It has not invested sufficiently in pre-natal care, post-natal care, infant mortality programs, mammograms and other women’s health screenings. Rich and Betty will set a new direction in this key area.
Investing in Ohio's Health Care industry - Health care is one of our strongest areas of job growth. We will invest in pathways to these high-demand careers.
As an original co-sponsor of CHIP, Betty helped provide health coverage for 9 million American children who had gone without it. This cost-effective measure allows health care access to roughly 200,000 Ohio children.
In the Ohio House, Betty fought HMOs that were denying coverage. In Congress, she voted to pass the ACA, which led to a 49% decline in uninsured Ohioans. It was Betty's amendment that immediately limited health insurance companies' ability to reject coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.
The evidence is crystal clear. Preschool educational and developmental programming improves school readiness. It lays a critical foundation for children to succeed. It measurably enhances their ability to master language, literacy, and math skills central to navigating our society. We must immediately take steps to implement Universal Pre-K. Simply put, kindergarten isn’t what it used to be. Today, well-prepared children arrive knowing the alphabet, able to count, to recognize colors, and to distinguish rhyming words. Early development of these learning and knowledge characteristics mesh with the development of key social skills. Pre-K children learn to wait their turn, persist with tasks they find difficult, work with others, and control their impulses. These attributes and the benefits of Pre-K education are documented in both local and national research studies.
Where available, pre-school has also become our most reliable outside-the-home opportunity to identify health issues and learning disabilities among young children, allowing earlier interventions that better mitigate their effects. Yet these important Pre-K opportunities should not be determined by a child’s zip code. High-quality education is the foundation of our democracy, and of opportunity in our economy and our society.
In 2010, Ohio public schools ranked #5 in the nation in Education Weeks' annual Quality Counts rankings. In 2015, we fell to #18 and last year we slipped down to #22. In Ohio and across the nation, parents of young children say the main reason they don’t send their kids to preschool is that they can’t afford it. It’s time to address that need.
In 2017, the legislature crafted a biennial budget with only 0.6% of that money committed to Early Childhood Education. We need to help the legislature "connect the dots" so we can implement a common-sense approach to Universal Pre-K for Ohio’s young children.
Create a Statewide Pre-K “Hub” to Help Local Educators “Connect the Dots” and Build More Comprehensive Programs - From Cincinnati's passage of Issue 44 in 2016, to Montgomery County's Pre-School Promise initiative joined by Dayton’s leadership in passing its own levy, to Cuyahoga County's Invest in Children Universal Pre-K program, communities across the state are getting smart about this critical need. In growing numbers, they are now investing in the future of our youngest children to give them a better chance to succeed. The Cordray-Sutton Administration will establish a Local Educator Support Hub, led by practical education problem-solvers from Ohio’s school districts with support from their colleagues across the state. The Hub will support Pre-K expansion and quality by providing help and support with needs assessment, planning, multi-sector coordination, system capacity-building, fund development and allocation, research and evaluation, public policy development, quality assurance, financial aid system management, public awareness, and advocacy. Opportunities will be maximized by the Hub identifying cutting-edge approaches to Universal Pre-K and joining public and private sources to bring them to fruition.
Guarantee Adequate Funding for Universal Pre-K Through Combined Public/Private Efforts - We cannot assure Universal Pre-K in Ohio unless we identify the public and private funding sources needed to finance this effort. The Hub will be the focal point to generate and develop a funding plan that supports:
High-Quality Early Care and Education Programs, including center-based programs (preschools, child care centers, Head Start, and church programs); home-based programs (family child care homes and family child care group homes); and family support and education programs.
Pre-K System Infrastructure, including state and community-level entities that are linked to carry out coordination and basic infrastructure functions, with planning and oversight support provided by the Hub.
Access to Resources, including outreach and information about child development, early learning, health, community resources, linkages and access to health and other community services, parent and family education and support, consumer information on early care and education programs and providers, referrals and program quality ratings, and a consolidated tuition assistance application and convenient one-stop process for all sources of aid.
Betty Sutton has long been a champion for early education. In the Congress, she helped pass the most recent reauthorization of Head Start funding and fought for student loan forgiveness for Head Start teachers. She helped bring back over $3 million for the University of Akron’s Reading First program.
Rich Cordray, as Ohio Attorney General, recovered millions of taxpayer dollars fraudulently spent by a day care center that failed children and parents. At the Consumer Bureau, he pushed for new research on how child development can support teaching financial education concepts even at an early age. His team worked with parents and teachers to implement this new approach, including a book club to help young children develop impulse control and other learnings and skills needed to benefit from education at the preschool level.
Ohio is tragically missing out on the clean energy revolution. We could be creating more good-paying jobs, revitalizing rural communities, reducing energy bills, and improving our air and water quality. Instead, we rank #38 in renewable energy production and #31 for energy efficiency. This is simply unacceptable.
Cleveland’s own Charles Brush created the world’s first electric wind turbine in the 19th century to power his home. We cannot allow other states to keep gaining a competitive advantage with companies like Amazon and Apple, which want to expand their operations in places with renewable energy sources to power their businesses.
In addition to being a jobs engine, clean energy and energy efficiency are key to addressing climate change that threatens the Great Lakes and Ohio farmland. Ohio should be leading the way, not losing jobs to Michigan and Minnesota. Renewable energy and energy efficiency can play a key role in creating manufacturing jobs and revitalizing rural Ohio. We need to tell companies that Ohio is open for business once again in wind energy, solar energy, distributed generation, and cogeneration.
Betty Sutton was a champion of clean energy policy in the Congress, where she led efforts to pass clean energy legislation as a member of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee.
As Ohio Treasurer, Rich Cordray established a central inventory of state properties, which allowed counties across Ohio to use the inventory to consider potential sites to pursue development of new power sources.
As Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Rich worked to make sure that leases for solar projects weren’t being fraudulently misused to harm consumers and responsible businesses in the growing solar industry.
Agriculture employs one in seven Ohioans and contributes over $100 billion a year to our state economy. For years, Ohio has been a leading exporter of soybeans, corn, eggs, and cheese. Ohio farms feed the nation and the world; we must assure that our complex environmental and economic challenges don’t change that. Farmers must have 21st century tools and strategies along with support to adapt to new challenges.
When our farms and our farmers are secure and faring well, our rural communities and small towns thrive. But farm communities face one particularly daunting problem that calls for a comprehensive plan of action right now: the opioid crisis.
Half of those in rural communities report that they, a family member, or a friend have been directly affected by opioid abuse. For farmers and farm workers, it’s almost 75%. A recurring theme among those surveyed was the extraordinary lack of drug treatment facilities or programs in rural areas. We support the efforts of the “Farm Town Strong” movement to provide resources and information to farm communities and encourage farmer-to-farmer support to overcome the crisis.
These challenges are magnified by falling prices for beef, poultry, and pork. Half of our 4,400 dairy farms have been shuttered since 2006. Possible changes in U.S. trade policy pose substantial risks of retaliation that could threaten our farmers and our economy. We need to integrate resources across Ohio to help small communities create jobs and businesses around the agricultural supply chain. Farm communities must benefit from rural development opportunities to counter the challenges they face. Interest in local food eco-systems has never been higher and must be met with action. Ohio farms can continue to feed our state and nation.
We are facing an epidemic of gun violence in Ohio and across our country. While horrific mass shootings have captured headlines, the leading incidents of gun violence in Ohio are the daily homicides and suicides that often escape media attention. Gang violence and gun battles have taken too many young men from our urban communities. Armed domestic abusers have too many women fearing for their lives. Too many avoidable suicides are committed with firearms.
We cannot simply stand by and watch, hoping that the situation will get better while the steady horror of gun violence affects our communities, our families, and our schools. We must work to find concrete, practical solutions that will reduce gun violence and save lives.
We must balance the rights of responsible gun owners with the demands of public safety. We must craft measures that will keep all Ohioans safe by keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and those who would commit mass shootings. We must reduce the suicides, domestic violence, and gang violence that are responsible for too many gun deaths in urban, suburban, and rural areas. And we must allow responsible gun owners the freedoms granted by our U.S. and Ohio Constitutions.
The numbers are truly alarming. Since 1999, firearm deaths in Ohio have risen 58%. In 2016, over 1500 Ohioans were killed by a gun. Nearly 75% of Ohio homicides were committed with a gun and 1 out of 5 guns bought in Ohio is recovered from a crime scene within two years. And we are not acting as good neighbors - Ohio ranks near the top in having guns bought here used in a crime in another state.
But homicides only tell part of the story. Suicides by firearms have been rising since 2009. In 2016, Ohio had over 50% more suicides involving a firearm than homicides.
Ohio is a great place to live and make a home: to raise a family, go to school, work, and grow a business. And it can be, and should be, a great place to age with dignity and respect and to retire securely, surrounded by family and friends and with strong support from community programs and resources.
Investing today in the well-being of our seniors is the right thing to do and will help us retain and attract more retirees to live here. Ohio’s senior population is expected to double by 2040. Their diverse needs require planning and appropriate support. OSU researchers have shown that connecting more seniors to resources already available directly raises their quality of life and reduces costs of chronic illness and long-term crisis intervention. Too many seniors lack this support, and we need to change that.
We must focus on developing and training a high-quality workforce in the medical and helping professions. We need to support the caregivers who treat our seniors with the dignity and respect they have earned and assure the kind of broad support that our growing and increasingly diverse community of seniors demands. We should invest strategically to assure access to affordable places to live and other critical resources.
AARP estimates that about 2 million Ohioans work in jobs with no retirement plan. We will explore and adopt new approaches to provide more retirement planning and investment options to them, providing comfort that their futures are more secure.
Ohio needs to make a substantial reinvestment in community colleges so every student can get a post-secondary education and be ready for the workforce. For far too long, state government has failed to properly invest in higher education, pushing the skyrocketing costs of college onto students and families. Ohio now ranks 45th in college affordability. To solve this problem, we should provide free community college.
In the absence of affordable options, students are turning to for-profit higher education institutions, which prioritize profits over education, and often exploit students who are simply trying to get a good education and build a future. The hole growing in Ohio’s higher education system is leaving students with mountains of debt and with useless degrees, which don’t allow them get good-paying jobs to pay off their student loan debt.
Investing in our community colleges will benefit everyone - students, families, businesses, and our economy. Thousands of unfilled jobs could be filled with Ohioans who are prepared to join the workforce, if we only make the necessary investments in educating students. By 2020, 64% of jobs in Ohio will require at least an associate's degree, but today, only 37% of our working-age adults have a degree. Providing more access to affordable education and training won’t just help businesses, it will improve the quality of life across our state - a worker with a community college degree will earn hundreds of thousands of dollars more than a person with a high school diploma or G.E.D. over a 40-year career.