Gov. John Kasich’s speech was getting praise from his Republican colleagues in the legislature.
House and Senate Republicans praised Kasich’s plans, saying they'll help Ohio’s communities. Kasich proposes using $20 million in high-tech Third Frontier funds to come up with new ways to fight opioid abuse by developing new treatments and technologies. House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger says he wants details on that.
“ I don’t know enough about the Governor’s proposal that he brought up tonight and I’m eager to learn a little more about it.”
Republicans said they want to work with Democrats on the opioid crisis and other proposals Kasich mentioned. When reporters questioned if that’s been happening so far since Republicans have a super majority in this legislature, Senate President Larry Obhof responded this way.
“Last several general assemblies, I think every general assembly, we have had more than 90% of our bills pass with bipartisan support so, to some degree, the numbers speak for themselves.”
Democrats say they want to work with the majority lawmakers to come up with solutions for things like the opioid crisis. But House Minority Leader Fred Strahorn says he doesn’t favor Kasich’s plan to spend millions on opioid research. Strahorn says he wants lawmakers to invest dollars in education, treatment, and local communities – things he says lawmakers know will help reduce the drug problem in Ohio.
“Fund the things that we know work instead of spending time and resources going down a rabbit hole that may or may not produces something.”
Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni, who's running to replace the term-limited Kasich next year, agrees.
“You know we have two counties in this state that have had to rent refrigeration trucks for victims of overdoses. This is real. You can’t just talk about drugs. You have to take action, make investments in educating kids, giving police the tools to deal with the problem and making sure we have rehabilitation for these folks.”
Ohio leads the nation in the number of opioid deaths with more than three thousand in a single year. The big question is whether state leaders will go with Kasich’s approach for innovation or focus more on community funding. That will be determined as the budget makes its way through the legislative process in the coming weeks.