COILUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — On the second day of 2023, several freshman lawmakers will start their first term at the Ohio statehouse.
Of those new lawmakers are Democratic Rep.-elect Rachel Baker and Rep.-elect Nick Santucci, who both have a list of priorities.
“Healthcare, increasing access to quality health care, mental health care, looking at infant mortality,” Baker, a Democrat, said. “I think there’s a lot we can do in health care disparities.”
Meanwhile, Republican Santucci said he’s focusing on four “L” issues: lighting, litter, landscape and law enforcement. He also thinks the key to improving Ohio is economic development — even where others may not think of it.
“Some of these abandoned buildings that are sitting vacant, how can we either demolish them or improve them so companies can move here?” Santucci said. “And infrastructure as well is an economic development tool. We have to make sure those facilities have water and electric and everything they need so a company can move into Ohio and begin production.”
Baker said she also wants to address holes in places that became apparent during the pandemic, like the childcare system.
“Once the system is put under stress, we can really see those holes that need some fixing and attention,” Baker said.
Baker said while improving health care systems is at the top of her list, education is another priority.
“Public education and our education system and funding that system,” Baker said. “Making sure we’re setting kids and families up to be able to get a quality education, to be healthy and build the foundation for living a good healthy happy life in Ohio.”
This year, the Ohio Statehouse came close to passing an Ohio Department of Education overhaul that would give much of its powers to the governor’s office. Statehouse leaders said it’s likely to be reintroduced at the start of the new year.
Santucci said he doesn’t have a firm stance on the bill yet, but he wants to support teachers, parents and students. For her part, Baker said she would veer on the side of voters.
Santucci said he also wants to look at tax reform to help Ohioans who need it most.
“It’s great that we have all these resources and the ARPA funds, but we really have to look at tax reform to help the people who are struggling, and we have a lot of them in Ohio who need help,” Santucci said.