COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — President Joe Biden is set to hit some hot-button issues and lay out his case for re-election during his State of the Union address Tuesday evening.  

NBC4 talked to lawmakers at the Ohio Statehouse about some of the issues Biden might discuss.

The economy

Democratic and Republican state lawmakers disagree as to how they want Biden to approach the country’s economic issues.

Most Ohio lawmakers said it has been an exciting year for Ohio, with projects like Intel’s plant and Honda’s expansion set to bring jobs to central Ohio — and bolster the economy. 

“Biden is going to point to Ohio as a success story for him, but the groundwork of Honda and Intel coming here is a lot of what we’ve been able to do here in Columbus,” Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls), chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said.  

But lawmakers agree that inflation is still hurting Ohioans, despite the federal rate going down. State Rep. and Assistant Minority Leader Dontavius Jarrells (D-Columbus) said despite many viewing the pandemic as over, Ohioans are still feeling the long-term effects in their pockets.  

“My hope is that President Biden uplifts and talks about the additional support that’s needed to help families in a time where we see prices of groceries increasing,” Jarrells said.  

Jarrells advocated for the lowering of SNAP benefit requirements and boosting other federal welfare programs is crucial to support families experiencing economic hardship.

Dolan and Rep. DJ Swearingen (R-Huron), however, emphasized that they didn’t view federal funding as particularly helpful to address Ohioans’ needs.

“When you talk to Ohioans, they complain about things like the price of eggs right now,” Swearingen said. “And my response to that is twofold: one we need to cut taxes to ease the pain in their pocketbooks, and two, as a state lawmaker, we have to have a balanced budget and watch spending, and I think that’s something Washington, DC should be mindful of as well.” 

Health care

Medicaid requirements were lowered at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, making people more eligible for coverage. But with Biden’s announcement that the COVID-19 emergency will be lifted May 11, many Ohioans’ Medicaid eligibility might change or disappear.

“It’s costing the state of Ohio right now over $2 billion to continue paying for those folks who are on Medicaid, who otherwise aren’t eligible and should be working,” Dolan said. “It’s not kicking people off the system, its saying ‘the emergency is over, it’s time to get back.’” 

He said while the unemployment rate in the state is low, at hovering around 4%, that’s not reflective of the workforce shortage.  

“Employers need employees,” Dolan said. “So, we have that conflict of workers are needed yet unemployment is low which tells me there’s a number of people not really looking for work anymore.” 

But Jarrells said a health care cliff would “ravage this state,” and said expanded Medicaid eligibility has been a good thing for Ohio — and he’s not sure scaling back coverage will have Republicans’ desired effect.

“I don’t agree with the notion that taking them off Medicaid rolls gets them back to work,” Jarrells said. “Unfortunately, what it would do is get them to the hospital, particularly emergency rooms, at the expense of our communities.”

What Biden may face in 2024 election

Biden is widely expected to run for re-election in 2024.  

Although Republican and Democratic strategists see Biden’s chances for re-election differently, they both acknowledged that recent polls are not in Biden’s favor. 

“His future electoral prospects are declining,” Republican strategist Matt Dole said.

According to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 37% of Democrats say they want Biden to seek a second term — down from 52% before the midterm election.

“The president has some pretty bad poll numbers right now, and the two reasons voters cite most are that he’s too old and hasn’t accomplished too much,” Democratic strategist Dale Butland said.  

An NBC4-Emerson College and The Hill poll from October showed Biden’s approval rate among Ohioans was at 37%

Dole said he does expects Biden to be challenged by another Democratic candidate during the primary election.

“He was a dealmaker as a U.S. Senator, and he moved left,” Dole said. “Unfortunately, he hasn’t moved left enough appease those who are likely to challenge him in the primary. Primaries tend to be the fringe of the parties, so I think he’s facing the left of his party not thinking he’s done enough.” 

Butland said Biden has accomplished enough that he can build a strong case for himself.   

“Now there’s not much Biden can do about his age, but I hope he uses the State of the Union speech this evening to correct the record about what he’s done because it’s pretty remarkable,” Butland said. “Jobs and wages are up; inflation and the deficit are down, and the pandemic is in the rearview mirror.”