COVID 19 did not solve the workforce challenge facing communities and companies across the United States.  The growing group of unemployed are likely not skilled in the in-demand occupations companies are searching for.  In an attempt to answer the workforce challenge, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine submitted his state of Ohio operating budget for fiscal years 2022-2023 to the Ohio General Assembly and has proposed workforce, primary and secondary education and higher education funding and policy initiatives tied to developing a workforce in a COVID 19 economy.

The state of Ohio is a prime funder of Primary and Secondary Education in the state.  The education funding focus for Governor DeWine besides a substantial subsidy for Ohio’s school continues to be the renewal of funding on a signature program from the first budget. The Success & Wellness program funding is being increased by $100 million in each fiscal year bringing the overall funding for the program to $1.1 billion over the biennium. Overall state foundation aid to Ohio’s K-12 schools is remaining flat funded in the proposed two-year budget for a total, but there is likely significant debate awaiting the formal introduction of the budget, with both Speaker Bob Cupp and Senate President Matt Huffman both signaling their interest in rewriting the state’s school funding formula.

Governor DeWine is also proposing to boost funding in the successful high-quality community school program. Established in the current budget through the passage of H.B. 166, the Quality Community School Support Fund and program, provides additional funding for high-performing charter schools, which meet several academic, good-standing, and financial criteria established by the Ohio Department of Education. The program helps support high-quality charter/community schools to help them support and serve more Ohio families and students. The current funding level is being increased from the current amount of $30 million per fiscal year to $54 million per fiscal year.

Additionally, the DeWine administration has proposed to use $2 billion in federal COVID-19 stimulus funding to support schools to help kids catch up on lost learning opportunities by providing funding to support schools and districts to develop extending learning and learning recovery plans. The funding will also support partnerships between schools, districts and community organizations to deliver extended learning opportunities for targeted populations.

Governor DeWine also proposed utilizing $1.6 billion in federal funds to support nutrition programs, to reimburse schools, childcare centers, after-school programs and adult day centers for providing meals and snacks to students, older adults, and chronically disabled persons.

Higher Education funding and workforce development are another big focus of the DeWine administration. Continuing investment in the state’s Tech Cred program created in the last operating budget will see increased investment in the program to support an additional 45,000 credentialed individuals over the next biennium. Governor DeWine is also prioritizing funding for the state’s higher education institutions.

The administration is proposing to maintain the strong support provided to higher education institutions. An increase in funding to the state share of instruction, which provides state level funding to higher ed. The governor is also proposing to increase funding for the Ohio College Opportunity Grant (OCOG), which will result in an increase in the award amount by $500 over the two-year budget. OCOG is an important resource, particularly for first generation students and these dollars are an important tool to keep cost to students down. Additionally, the governor is proposing an increase in the “Choose Ohio First” scholarship to support at least 2,000 new scholarships for underrepresented populations enrolled in STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering, math, and medicine.

Education and workforce programs will be a prime topic of debate in the Ohio General Assembly as the operating budget is debated in the first half of 2021.  Please contact Dave Robinson at drobinson@montrosegroup.com if you have any workforce, education or other state policy questions.