Today, Governor Kasich and Attorney General Mike DeWine spoke at a heroin summit at Worthington Kilbourne High School outside of Columbus. Both Kasich and DeWine have been critiqued by health officials, editorial boards, and law enforcement for their delayed, anemic response to Ohio’s heroin crisis.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald released the following statement on the summit:
“It’s hypocritical for the Governor to speak at a summit on heroin abuse when for years he cut millions to police and social services, ignoring a problem that his own Department of Health said was foreseeable. Before he grandstands on this issue again, Governor Kasich needs to say whether or not he supports the MBR amendment that would cut millions from mental health funding to pay for addiction services. The Governor claims to be a champion for those in the shadows, but right now his Republican legislature is stealing from the mental health community to help address the Governor’s public relations crisis on heroin abuse.”
KASICH-DEWINE RECORD ON HEROIN CRISIS
Lack of Treatment Is “A Statewide Embarrassment,” State Officials Have Only Given a “Pep Talk”: The Plain Dealer has called the lack of treatment capacity a “statewide embarrassment.” [Plain Dealer, 2/18/14]. The Coshocton Tribune said that with few resources from the state, it is “disparaging when an elected official travels around the state giving what amounts to nothing more than a pep talk.” [Coshocton Tribune, 2/1/2014]
Heroin Crisis Was Foreseeable, Health Department Officials Say: “‘As strict legislation closed pill mills and prescription drugs became less available, Ohio was left with an opioid-addicted population in search of a drug,’ [Christy Beeghly,violence and injury prevention program administrator at the Ohio Department of Health] said. ‘We’ve sort of primed the pump of bringing heroin in,’ she said.” [Mansfield News Journal, 4/18/2014]
Attorney General DeWine Failed for Three Years to Acknowledge Growing Crisis: By his office’s own admission, DeWine did not even begin tabulating data on heroin deaths until Oct. 2013, years after the crisis began and states like Kentucky began responding. [Attorney General Statement, 11/18/13]
Kasich Cut Funding for Social Workers, Mental Health Programs, and Other Human Services Over 50 percent Across the State on Average: “Deep cuts have been made to all local governments and to special districts. Health and human service levies were hit especially hard, losing 54 percent of state aid, on average.” [Policy Matters Ohio, 9/13/2012]
DeWine Failed to Stand Up for First Responders: DeWine did not speak out against either Senate Bill 5 or Gov. Kasich’s massive local budget cuts for police and other first responders. This is despite his position as Ohio’s top law enforcement official.
Kasich Cuts to Local Government Fund Took Cops Off the Street: “Kasich insists that the state’s rainy day fund should be replenished with new budget surpluses, despite the fact that schools and communities across Ohio are still suffering from state budget cuts, which resulted in ‘cutbacks in essential local services, hikes in local property taxes, and layoffs of teachers, police officers, and firefighters.’” [Toledo Blade, 4/29/2012]