May 5, 2020

Mike DeWine Ohio Coronavirus Briefing Transcript May 5

Mike DeWine May 5
RevBlogTranscriptsPress Conference TranscriptsMike DeWine Ohio Coronavirus Briefing Transcript May 5

Governor Mike DeWine held a COVID-19 press conference on May 5. He announced $775m in state budget cuts to education, Medicaid and more.

 

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Mike DeWine: (00:00)
Today from Franciscan University, our friends in Steubenville. I want to start with the budget. As we all know, the COVID-19 epidemic has had a profound impact on the American economy, certainly has had a profound impact on the Ohio economy as well. Prior to the onset of the Corona’s pandemic, Ohio’s economy was strong and our budget was on track. For example, by the end of February state revenues for the fiscal year up until that point were ahead of estimates by over $200 million. That was at the end of February for the year. We now have figures in for the month of April, our fiscal year to date revenues have taken, as you can imagine, a rather dramatic turn, and just in two months. We are now below the budget estimates for the year by $776.9 million. So as you can see, that is a turnaround going the wrong way of up close to a billion dollars.

Mike DeWine: (01:28)
Just to put this in perspective, a billion dollars per month is what the state pays and spends on primary and secondary education as well as to our state colleges and universities each month. That’s each month. Our office of budget management Director Kim Murnieks and her team are projecting that state revenues will continue to be below budget in the coming months as we move through this crisis. Nationwide economic forecasts have of course been very unpredictable. The forecast as well as OBMs projections indicate to me that we need to make significant changes to our state budget to prepare for the coming months. As I have said, this is certainly no ordinary time, and we cannot continue onward as if this was a normal period of time.

Mike DeWine: (02:33)
In Ohio we of course have a two year budget cycle. Each fiscal year runs from July, 1st to June, 30th, and we are now starting the 11th month of our 24 month budget cycle. The budget has to be balanced throughout that entire period of time and it has to be balanced by end of each of those separate years. Unlike the federal government, we have to balance our budget and we intend to do so. So today I am announcing a $775 million budget reduction in general revenue fund spending for the remainder of 2020. That means that we have to obtain these $775 million in cuts in the next two months.

Mike DeWine: (03:36)
Decisions like this are certainly very difficult and unpleasant, but they are part of my responsibility as your governor to make. While we do not know what the coming months will hold, we do know that COVID-19 is here with us and will be here with us for a while. That does not exempt us from the obligation to balance our budget. Making difficult budget decisions now will help us down the road, and it will help us while we continue our discussions for the next fiscal year budget.

Mike DeWine: (04:12)
Let me explain a little bit about that. I have decided to not draw down the money from the rainy day fund for the next two months. We have decided to make cuts which will enable us to balance the budget for the next two months, and I’ll explain this in more detail in a moment, but simply stated we are going to need that money, that rainy day fund for next year and possibly for the year after.

Mike DeWine: (04:52)
The cruel nature of an economic downturn is that at the time when you are in need of a social safety net, it’s also the time when government revenues shrink. We’re trying to preserve basic services for people while we get through this period, and one of the things that we’re going to try to achieve is some stability.

Mike DeWine: (05:21)
Let me again return to the rainy day fund because I know we’ve received a lot of questions, “Are you going to pull down the rainy day fund?” And the answer is, “Yes, we will. We’re just not going to do it in the next two months.” I know that I have said that it’s raining, but we really do not want to tap into that fund yet. This rain is not a passing spring shower. It could be, we don’t really know, but it could be a long cold lingering storm, and we should not use that rainy day funding until we have to. None of these decisions are easy and I do not make them lightly, but they are necessary. As many of our businesses and our citizens of the state of Ohio are having to make difficult decisions is incumbent upon us in government to make those same decisions.

Mike DeWine: (06:21)
I want to outline briefly where these cuts will be made, and again these are cuts that we will be making for the next two months. We will reduce Medicaid spending by $210 million. K-12 Foundation payment reduction will be $300 million. Other education budget line items 55 million, Higher Education 110 million, all other agencies a hundred million, and that totals up to $775 million.

Mike DeWine: (06:58)
For the money in the budget, that is Ohio taxpayers money, only 9.4% is spent on operating expenses of state agencies. Over 85% goes out across the state as subsidies to schools, higher education, Medicaid services, local government, et cetera. So most of the budget does not get spent on state agencies, but are really transfer payments that go out to our local communities and to our local schools throughout the state of Ohio.

Mike DeWine: (07:44)
Any cut to education is difficult, but we have an obligation to do our best to balance these cuts and to protect the most vulnerable of our students. And we intend to do that with these cuts. Further, while no one can predict future revenues or exactly where our economy is going, we need to do everything that we can to try to ensure stability and funding for our schools and some predictability as much as possible. We have an obligation to our schools, to our students, to our parents, to give them as much predictability as we can. And so if we do not make these cuts now over the next two months, the cuts we will have to make next year would have to be more dramatic.

Mike DeWine: (08:40)
Now with regard to our state agencies, each of our agencies with the exception of the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections is taking cuts, including the governor’s office. Regarding our state agencies, on March 23rd, I initiated an immediate hiring freeze for state employees and state agencies, boards and commissions. That continues. I also ordered a freeze on pay increases and promotions of unclassified exempt staff, and a freeze on our new contract serious for the state. That continues.

Mike DeWine: (09:14)
I’ve asked each agency director to continue to identify additional savings in their budgets for the remainder of this fiscal year and for next fiscal year. Moving forward, all state agencies will continuing the hiring freeze as well as the freeze on pay increases and promotions. State agencies will continue to operate under the travel freeze already in effect, with exceptions for those staff providing direct services in regard to this emergency.

Mike DeWine: (09:44)
Further, agencies will immediately freeze new requests for contract services except for those services that are necessary for emergency response, and will strictly scrutinize the continued need for those services. Agencies will suspend purchasing authority for nonessential purchases with continuation of only mission critical contractual services.

Mike DeWine: (10:10)
Those are the decisions that we are making for the next two months. We have been in contact with the legislature about these. I bear the responsibility. We will continue to discuss with the legislature where we will go with next year’s budget, which will be immediately upon us, and I look forward to a consultation with the minority leadership as well as a majority leadership of both the house and the senate. Let me turn out to the lieutenant. Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted.

LT. Gov. Jon Husted: (10:45)
Thank you Governor. Good afternoon. I wanted to just expand a little bit on some of the things that the governor just announced. It has been my privilege to serve in public office in both the legislature and the executive branch, and so I’ve had a chance to go through difficult budget decisions over time. We went through them after 9/11, we went through them after the great recession, and now we’re in the midst of the global pandemic that coronavirus has created, and there are both health and economic consequences as well as budgetary consequences.

LT. Gov. Jon Husted: (11:26)
In all of those times, I can never recall a period where we went in basically a two month period to having a billion dollar swing, from having more revenue than we had estimated to having far less revenue, $200 million overage to a $779 million shortfall. That is the most dramatic swing I can ever recall. We don’t know how long it’s going to last. The economic consequences of budgetary consequences could be shorter, could be longer, but it’s prudent as the governor mentioned to plan for the long haul.

LT. Gov. Jon Husted: (12:04)
In the end this is about providing as much stability to the people out there, because that’s where State Government money goes, is outside of State Government. It goes to schools, it goes to healthcare providers, and I’m going to touch on that in just a minute, but we have to plan for that future. And Eric, if you could put up the blue slide or the pie chart there. This really gets at the heart of it. If you look at the three pieces of the pie.

LT. Gov. Jon Husted: (12:40)
The gray is essentially debt service, and that’s what we pay out of the state budget for debt service. The green is what you would call administration. That’s all of the elected officials and in the courts and everything that it takes, legal, administrative, all of that to administer state government. It’s not a huge part of the pie. The blue is everything else. That’s the money that goes out the door for Medicaid providers, that goes out for K-12, goes out for higher education and for local government.

LT. Gov. Jon Husted: (13:13)
That’s the challenge that we have. That’s why when you see money that gets cut from the things that we dread to cutting them from, schools, Medicaid providers and the like, it’s because that’s the state has to balance its budget, and that’s where all the money is. The green piece of the pie and the blue piece of the pie are getting its cuts, everything else is debt service. I just wanted to put that in perspective for folks so that they really understand how the state budget works. We balance the budget, most of the money we have goes out the door to serve other people, and that’s the nature of how a state government operates.

LT. Gov. Jon Husted: (13:58)
I do you want to say this as well, that, and I’ve talked about this for a while, it’s a health crisis. A health crisis that in response creates an economic crisis with budget consequences. That’s not just at State Government. That’s for our local government friends in this state. That’s for State Government. It’s a federal issue. It’s a global issue. This is an economic crisis that’s not unique to Ohio, and while we’re opening things up in Ohio, that’s not going to solve the global economic consequences of what we’re facing.

LT. Gov. Jon Husted: (14:44)
That’s why it’s important when you hear what we’ve been saying here over the last few weeks about learning to live with Coronavirus in our lives, protecting lives and livelihoods and doing two things at once. Those are the themes that you’ve heard often, because we know that we have to get the economy moving so that people can pay their bills, and so that the private economy, which funds public services can be as robust as possible.

LT. Gov. Jon Husted: (15:17)
They all fit together, and we have to design a policy, the governor is in charge of designing a policy that meets all of those needs, that tries put people back to work, that gets the private economy going so that we can fund that social safety net, that education and children depend on, that healthcare and people who need healthcare services depend on. It is the social safety net that is critical to our lives.

LT. Gov. Jon Husted: (15:50)
That’s why all of this has to come together at once. Why it’s so difficult to piece these pieces together in a way that strikes that balance. And I really believe that we are in a great position because of the early decisions, because the early warning that Dr. Acton provided, because of the quick action that the governor undertook, because of the partnerships that we have with business that is talking about how we can safely return to work protecting employees and customers, beginning to get the Ohio economy moving so that we can serve everybody that depends on both work and public services.

LT. Gov. Jon Husted: (16:33)
So I really believe that Ohio is poised to do this as well as any state in the country, and you’re getting from us at these podiums every day a bit more of what those plans look like. It is moving forward and it will all depend on how we pull together to make sure that we’re doing the things in our private lives to keep us healthy, to not spread the Coronavirus so that we can get the economy back working, get people back working, and help to provide for the services that everybody needs. Thank you. Governor.

Mike DeWine: (17:10)
Jon, thank you. Dr. Acton.

Dr. Acton: (17:12)
Good afternoon Governor, and good afternoon everyone. We’ll go ahead and start with the data. So today in Ohio we now have seen a total of 20,969 cases, and that’s up about 495 cases from yesterday. Unfortunately our deaths in Ohio are now at 1,135, that’s a change of reporting over the last 24 hours of about 79. We have had deaths in 63 of our 88 counties, and all 88 counties have had cases.

Dr. Acton: (17:57)
Next slide. Again, our testing numbers continuing to inch upward, we’ve now tested almost 160,000 in Ohio. That’s a little over one to one and a half percent of our population and other than that, I think everything else looks the same. Eric, and again, continuing giving you those [inaudible 00:18:23], these are 21 day trends. We do see that our cases do not increase as much as the average. We are up a little bit in our hospitalizations for the day compared to a five day or a 21 day average, and we’ll keep these numbers for you and many other numbers on our website.

Dr. Acton: (18:47)
Next. Again, this is our testing slide, really not significant change. We’re continuing to inch upward each day. Our last day being May, 4th, and we inched up again over up toward the-

Dr. Acton: (19:03)
… five to 6,000 mark and we’ll keep all of that again on our website. We do look forward to the governor. We’ve been talking a lot about new data sets that we’ll be sharing and of course we’ll bring that to you later this week. Next slide.

Dr. Acton: (19:18)
I do want to take a moment to go kind of along the lines of what the governor and lieutenant governor just said. There is, when I look at the health and wellbeing of Ohioans, I am thinking about each and every one of the 11.7 million of us, that from a complete physical, mental, emotional, and even your economic wellbeing. All of those things are what make us do better or worse. And when we’re trying to look at lives and livelihoods, it’s because we know that all of these things are impacting us. And so I wanted to share with you a little bit, we know a pandemic kind of reveals all the chinks in our armor and whether that be an old database that didn’t quite work when you thought you’d have a scale to use it or whether it means our own personal vulnerabilities. We know now that our mental health, a lot of us are really struggling with a lot and I’ve spoken to this before.

Dr. Acton: (20:21)
Kaiser Permanente, their foundation did a study that was just released in the last 24 hours showing an increase of over a 1000% of people reaching out for help. And so I just wanted to say I had a quick dialogue and exchange with our director of mental health services, Lori Chriss, you’ve met her before and she’ll be coming back again to share things with you. But I think it’s really important, Susan Borja who is the traumatic stress research program head for the National Institutes of Mental Health, said she’s being kept up late at night because she’s worried about our mental health system and it being able to absorb all the stress and the sort of pandemic stress and restlessness we’re all feeling.

Dr. Acton: (21:07)
And on our website again, coronavirus.ohio.gov, Director Chriss has put amazing set of resources. We’re not stopping there. We’re really working on making sure our systems there are just as robust to help all Ohioans. You’ll hear more from Director Chriss in the days to come. But I want us to know, it breaks us down a little bit. We struggle with what we’re dealing with, with our businesses and it’s also often the time that opens us up. It’s that thin feeling of being torn apart sometimes and sometimes in those same moments, even those worst moments. And I’ve seen this over and over in my life, at 54 and I have to remind myself, governor, every day because a day where I lose my temper or feel despair, right in there sometimes it’s just this little tiny pearl of something that I wouldn’t have seen. And it helps to have people to talk to when you’re feeling that way and it helps to get new perspective on issues you’re trying and problems we’re trying to solve and talking to someone might be that thing that actually helps you make that new innovation or see a new way forward. I just want to say again, on our website, it’s hard to see on this we have a 1-800 number 720-9616. Please go to our website. Also on our website you can text 4hope, four, the number four, hope, to 741-741 where there are trained crisis helpers to talk to you as well.

Dr. Acton: (22:37)
We really want to help folks and we want to help each other. Just please do see, don’t give up hope. These are hard times. We know they’re going to continue. We are going to be there with you through them. We all need each other right now. Ohio is pulling together. From our businesses to our government, to our nonprofits, to our philanthropies, to our neighbors, to each other. You’re helping me, I’m helping you. The things we’re doing are helping each other and I really believe Ohioans are digging deep on this and we have resources to help you, so please, please know they’re there. Thank you.

Mike DeWine: (23:19)
Dr Acton. Thank you very much. Questions?

Ben Schwartz: (23:33)
Good afternoon Governor DeWine. Ben Schwartz with WCPO in Cincinnati. Governor, I want to ask you a question that was sent in from a viewer. This viewer’s dad has tested positive for COVID-19 and his father works at a small business in Cincinnati where one third of their staff has tested positive as well. He says the employer has taken no steps to provide a safe environment for work and he’s wondering how the state will be able to properly manage nonessential businesses like that while things like this with not enough safety are happening at them, while also doing it with essential businesses that are already operating.

Mike DeWine: (24:15)
Yeah, Ben, did you say what kind, type of business it was?

Ben Schwartz: (24:20)
It’s small. When I say a third, I think it’s three in nine employees. I don’t know exactly what type though. I’m assuming it’s a small store.

Mike DeWine: (24:33)
Dr. Acton, do you have any thoughts on that?

Dr. Acton: (24:36)
Ben, I do have some thoughts on that. As I was just ending my last lines, I was thinking about how exciting it has been to work with businesses and help them. You’re really racking your brain and then you find that aha moment and I wonder if both the employees and the businesses out there aren’t armed with enough to help them make those decisions. And again, we’re still reeling, we’re still putting out guidance. It’s not all clear yet to everyone.

Dr. Acton: (25:05)
What I would suggest is both the owner of that business and the employees reach out to their local health department, which will in turn work with us and maybe we could give them some guidance because I know I don’t know this particular situation so I can’t comment on it. But I think what we want to do is reach out for help. Help the workers and make sure that someone, actually the local health department can help contact trace that and maybe get some testing to those folks and help the business actually handle that, what potentially could be a little bit of an outbreak, not knowing the situation myself. But I think we have to offer help. Reach out to your local health department and if that’s not satisfactory, please reach out to the state health department.

Mike DeWine: (25:54)
And I would say also, Ben, that if someone finds themself in a position that they feel is unsafe because of this, because of COVID-19, obviously they should talk to the employer but they also have the option if that does not bring any kind of good results, to go to the local health department they can go and they can do that anonymously as well. That’s not the ideal. What we hope is that every small business many times is like families and they treat each other like family and that’s what we would hope would happen. But clearly something has to be done. The facts that you described are very, very, very, very concerning and the employee certainly has a right to be concerned.

Ben Schwartz: (26:50)
Thank you very much.

Jon Husted: (26:55)
That the rules were written with the purpose of also empowering the employee. There are requirements that the business do. The employee can wear a mask, the employee can wash hands, the employee can distance themselves for other employees. If the employer does not fulfill the obligation to clean the common spaces or to provide for this environment, then the recommendation, talk to that employer and if the employer won’t do it, then as the governor mentioned, you can go to the health department or you can contact the state health department if the local health department does not follow up. But we found that’s worked very well at holding people accountable throughout the experience we’ve had over the last six weeks or so.

Mike DeWine: (27:50)
And while there’s not a requirement, it’s best practices. But while it’s not a requirement that someone who’s a customer who goes into a retail store wear a mask, there is a requirement that people in the companies wear that mask to protect each other.

Speaker 2: (28:08)
ABC 6 News. Can you talk a little bit more about what will the education cuts look like? And what solutions you might be offering to schools whose students have suffered so much during this pandemic?

Mike DeWine: (28:31)
Yeah. The budget director, Kim will be making, will be available to the press corps tomorrow to give really, really details. What we have done is outlined. What I read to you was the big broad numbers. That represents about a 3.7% cut in education funding, primary and secondary over this past year. It certainly will be significant in the next two months in the payments that go to the schools. She will be outlining that. The formula that every school obviously will be different. I have expressed here at these press conferences concern about students who are in schools that do not have the revenue, poor schools, poor children, and so that certainly is taken into consideration when we put that formula together. She’ll have more details on that tomorrow.

Shane Stegmiller: (29:51)
Hello Governor, this is Shane Stegmiller with Hannah News Service. In the last budget, you included a lot of extra money for schools aimed at helping wrap around services and that, how is what you’re announcing today going to affect that? Are those funds going to be slashed as well?

Mike DeWine: (30:09)
Those funds are not slashed. Obviously money is fungible so when you take money away from the school, it does or give that school less money obviously has some impact. And what we’re really trying to do, we look kind of, we don’t have a crystal ball. We can’t predict where this economy is going. We want to be optimistic and I am optimistic, but we also have to be cautious. And so what we wanted to do is to try to put the schools in a situation, so as they begin in July, they begin the next year, that the cuts that we would have to make beyond this would be minimal. Now, we don’t know if that’s going to be true or not. As Jon pointed out, the challenge is that when you start cutting budgets, other governors have found this and legislatures have found this, there’s some big items in the budget. Medicaid is certainly one, higher education is one, K through 12 is another. And so when you have to make these cuts, it is very difficult frankly, to exempt out any of those because they’re very significant parts of the budget.

Molly Martinez: (31:28)
Hi Governor, this is Molly Martinez with Spectrum News. In that same vein, could you explain the rationale behind such a deep cut to Medicaid during a pandemic? And also prisons make up 7.7% of the budget, why no cuts to them?

Mike DeWine: (31:44)
The budget of prisons are made up primarily at people. While we are seeing some reduction in the number of people in prisons, the virus has made it, some of the staffing issues more difficult. My guess is, and Director Murnieks can talk about this, is that prisons probably have additional overtime that they are paying. When you look at prisons and just say, “How are you going to make those cuts?” It was very difficult to find the money in the prisons. I think we all have a long term goal of seeing the numbers come down, but we also have an obligation to protect the public. And so I’m not going to make any dramatic radical changes in our prisons beyond what the legislature has already done. You look to find the money, they’re not really much of an opportunity in the prisons to cut that money. It’s all in staffing. It’s all in direct contact with prisoners and you need so many people to do that for them to be safe. And so that’s why it’s difficult.

Mike DeWine: (33:11)
Director Murnieks will go into some of the details about where we think we can find the funding, where we will find the funding in regard to Medicaid. We do not intend to reduce essential services to people who have been hurt by this pandemic. People who are drawing Medicaid. It’s a big budget and we’re confident that we can find that and will find that $200 million out of there.

Jack Windsor: (33:50)
Jack Windsor, WMFD-TV, Mansfield. My question is for the lieutenant governor, Lieutenant Governor, there’s a growing belief that county officials, particularly health department directors, have power to interpret and implement orders we’re now under. Similar to the governor’s latitude regarding federal guidelines and a few counties have already started to step out. Several others are in discussions and expressing beliefs that they have the power to determine what businesses are essential and when to restore civil liberties. Sir, do these counties and county departments of health have the authority and latitude? Further, will this administration be heavy handed or helpful as counties decide to go their own way?

Jon Husted: (34:32)
Well I can tell you that the administration’s always had the opinion that local government officials are our partners and that we want to work with them. Local governments have different opinions, just like average citizens. They have opinions that some want us to go faster, some want us to go slower. I’ve been on phone calls with local government officials who gave me both of those pieces of advice today. But the governor has spelled out clearly that we have a pathway that we want to do to take the state through this together and we rely on our local officials to enforce the rules and the executive order, which they have the obligation to do. And we’re working as swiftly as we can to provide that balance of protecting people’s health, which we want to do, but also opening up aspects of the economy and rolling back some of the restrictions that have been in place.

Jon Husted: (35:45)
But our whole plan, I want to be clear about what’s happening in Ohio. We were the first ones in, in this and we’re at the forefront of coming out. We may not be the first, but we are on the front end of doing that. And the very nature of doing that requires us to trust people. To rely on the fact that they will use their freedom as you defined it, with personal responsibility so that we can open up aspects of the economy without exacerbating the spread and infringing on the health and good standing of our community. It’s the balance that we’re trying to work through. We understand some want to go slower, some want to go faster, but I believe what we have is very effective at threading the needle on that and more things are happening all the time as the governor’s talked about. Throughout the month of May, we’re going to continue to loosen restrictions and trust people more and more every day.

Mike DeWine: (36:49)
Let me just add one thing to that, Jack. We’re moving certainly moving away as we open Ohio up from the distinction of essential and non essential. That was in the previous orders. We’re really moving away from that as we work through our way and open things up.

Tom Galagone: (37:14)
Governor, Tom Galagone with New Service. Getting back to wraparound services. Should districts expect that there will be a separate pool of money for wraparound services in the next budget?

Mike DeWine: (37:28)
Well, we haven’t done the next budget, but we are committed to wraparound services. Wraparound services are even more essential today than they were before. These have been met with, I think, welcome arms, so to speak. And people have taken this money and have used it for very, very important things. Mental health services, for example. This would not be the time.

Mike DeWine: (38:01)
I made a commitment that we would continue funding on wraparound services and we’re going to do everything that we can to continue that commitment because we know some of the schools, many of the schools have relied upon that, have entered into long longterm contracts or contracts that go beyond the next several months. So, we’re going to continue the funding on wraparound services.

Jessie Balmert: (38:33)
Hello, this is Jessie Balmert, with the Enquirer. You said that you’re not interested in touching the Rainy Day Fund over the next two months. Under what circumstances or criteria do you have for dipping into that fund? What are you looking for?

Mike DeWine: (38:51)
Well, we know we’re going to have to dip into it. I mean, it would be a miracle if we didn’t have to dip into it. We’re planning on dipping into it. What we wanted to try to do is get some cuts now, make tough decisions now. The nature of budgets is that the longer you wait to make decisions, the tougher it is to make them. If you make them earlier, then it’s not as difficult as you move forward. So, we know, in this coming year that starts in July, we’re going to have to dip into the Rainy Day Fund. There’s just no way, based on projections, that we’re going to be able to avoid that. It’s also possible that we will need some of that Rainy Day Fund in the next year after that. The whole goal is to try to, what the legislature in its wisdom and Governor Casey in his wisdom did, is provide a Rainy Day Fund.

Mike DeWine: (39:48)
That, one of the main goals of a Rainy Day fund, is so that you level out services, so you don’t have such a huge drop in those services. You spread that money over the time. Excuse me. So that, schools for example, just one example, but you try to avoid the huge dips that schools will have. Now, I understand the next two months are going to be a dip, but you try to avoid the rollercoaster and try to even things, out and you spread that money out over a period of time, and that’s what we intend to do. I mean, we could’ve started taking from it now. It just made sense to try to get these cuts. The more prudent, the more conservative attitude, it seemed to me, was to make some of these cuts now and take it out of this next two months, and then take that Rainy Day Fund and spread over the next year and then maybe even some of that money into the year after that.

Laura: (40:53)
This is Laura from Cleveland.com. Did the CARES Act stem, can you talk about the CARES Act and how that impacted budget cuts and also did you do any payment transfers to avoid cuts?

Mike DeWine: (41:12)
The CARES Act in the schools I think, know they’re numbers but the CARES Act is money for school. Part of that money goes to schools and that is going to be a help to the schools as they deal with the coronavirus, as they deal with this reduction. The CARES Act money will be pulled down by the schools over the next year or so and so that will be of help to every school in the state. Some schools, poorer schools for example, we’ll get more assistance and it will be more of help. But, every school, if you look at the numbers, every school does get something from the CARES Act. I think I missed the last part of the question. I apologize.

Jessie Balmert: (42:04)
Yeah, payment transfers. Payment transfers.

Mike DeWine: (42:10)
What? I’m sorry. What about payment transfers? I’m sorry?

Jessie Balmert: (42:15)
Were there any made and how did it affect the cuts? Did it help stem some of the cuts that needed to be made?

Mike DeWine: (42:24)
Well, one of the ways as you know, that you can obtain some money in one budget is to push things back into the next budget. We have tried to avoid that. That’s a onetime deal that you can do. We tried to push those back and not draw that money down and that’s basically, almost like a savings account I suppose. We decided not to do that and we just tried to make these tough decisions right up front. Just face them, go after them, do what we have to do, however unpleasant that is and we felt that that was better for schools and better for everyone in the long run. But, Kim Murnieks, tomorrow can give you the exact details in regard to that.

Noel H.: (43:18)
Noel [Hy al 00:00:43:20] Capital Journal. Yesterday, you started to outline how testing was going to be done through the coming months. We’re reopening the economy. There’s an internal White House memo that said that, I guess it was a draft, but it said that deaths could be 3000 a day in July. As we’re doing this, if I’m thinking about an employee thinking about going back to work or an employer thinking about bringing my people back to work, where will we be able to get tested and how will these tests be paid for? Is that part of the plan yet?

Mike DeWine: (43:55)
I’m going to let Dr. Acton take part of that. I’ll start though. Thank you for the question. I think anyone who watched the news last night, this morning would be struck by the lead stories, which is two different reports. One was a White House report or projection. The other one was out of Washington, which both indicated a significant increase in the number of deaths. I stated last night in an interview, that certainly is concerning. Anybody should be concerned about that. Again, I’ve not dug down into the basis of those decisions, what facts they thought had changed or what assumptions may be that we’re changing and we’re taking a look at that. But it does, I think, emphasize the importance of testing and for us to move very quickly on testing. We have the ability today. We have the contract. We are starting to stand up more people who are going to do the tracing. As we open up, having tracing, having testing is very, very, very significant. I’m going to let Dr. Acton take the rest of that. Dr Acton.

Dr. Acton: (45:09)
Thank you governor. Thank you. That is the, probably the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the Washington State University modeling numbers. Going back to modeling, if we all remember, that on that the White House has been using, and again, a lot of this has to do with the fact that modeling is very confusing to the general public. (silence).

Speaker 3: (45:55)
Speed again. Stand by.

Dr. Acton: (46:06)
I’m not sure where we were last. But again, with that modeling that came out of the White House, it was predicting that we would have 60,000 deaths in this country by August, and now we know we have them here in May. So please, we always have to look at these things, as the fact that we’re all learning about this experience at the same time. It’s an unprecedented thing. The science is there, largely to help us make better decisions and see trends. I’m sure if you talk to researchers like Dr. Chris Murray, they’d have a lot of caveats and explanations, but we do know that as we’re opening up, there will be more cases and there will be more deaths and a lot of it is very dependent on how well we can learn to live with this virus, control the outbreaks when they occur, and try to minimize the infection starting to spread through the community.

Dr. Acton: (47:13)
A lot of that, again, our ability to catch a case earliest, based on testing. So, back to your testing question and testing is just not enough yet. The testing we’re still looking at doing with our tiers, which are on our website, are still for prioritized groups. The most sick, the hospitalized, at-risk populations with preexisting health conditions, congregate settings of all sorts, that are higher risk. There is, we are not doing specifically, testing in businesses at this point. However, the local health department comes across a cluster outbreak, they may choose to use some of their limited testing to figure out, because a business in a way, in the future here, like the meat-packing industry we have seen will become a congregate setting. There will be some judgment but it’s not widespread.

Dr. Acton: (48:06)
I think this is a very important point. There’s a lot of other news about the misuse of antibody testing. Much of it, that wasn’t really vetted very well and is being marketed to businesses. I think I would give businesses a heads up, be careful, maybe talk to your health department about that. I think, there’s a lot being marketed right now as a business solution, that really hasn’t been studied. That’s just a caveat that I’d like to put out there now

Noel H.: (48:39)
… people where they can get tested and how they’ll be paid for?

Dr. Acton: (48:45)
Right now, we do tell people, when you talk to your physician, a physician has to do an order and when a physician or a hospital decides you need a test, you’re told how to get it. That exists. There are many payment mechanisms, from insurance to much of the state testing that we do, which is actually free of charge. There’s a wide variety, as in all of healthcare, about how testing is paid for. Thank you.

Andy Chow: (49:16)
Hi Governor. Andy Chow, with Ohio Public Radio and Television, Statehouse News Bureau. In regards to the budget cuts, what kind of involvement does the legislature have to have with that? Do they need to approve those cuts and have you given any thought to something like an MBR, a mid-biennium review to take a look at the budget issues further?

Mike DeWine: (49:41)
We consulted with the legislature, that input from leadership, but these are basically our decisions. But, everything that we do, in regard to the budget, we work with members of the State Legislature. As far as a review, we’re going to have, this is a continuous process. We’re in a very unusual, extremely unusual time and there is no one, national, state, any place else that can really give you real reliable predictions, because we don’t know where this economy is going. We are in an obviously, an international economy as well as a national economy My point, I guess, is that this budget is going to have to be monitored very, very closely and we’re going to do that with the legislature, so we’re going to go through constant reviews as we look at the revenues that are coming in.

Jim Otte: (50:54)
Hi, Governor. Jim Otte, from WHIO TV. Thanks for doing this. I want to ask, what guidance you are going to be providing to local school districts given this cut? Look a couple of months down the road, are you currently thinking that they’re going to return to the physical classroom in the fall? The fall seems like a long way off, but it’s really just around the corner and if so, is this the first cut? Will it be two or three more down the road? What should they be thinking?

Mike DeWine: (51:24)
We don’t want any more cuts. We certainly cannot guarantee that. We don’t know exactly where we’re going. We wanted to take this one, because we felt that, that would give us a better chance of having more stability as we go through this next year, but no one can guarantee that. We certainly hope that. As far as whether they’re going back into the classroom, I think everyone would like to see schools back in session in August or whenever, whatever date they have, when they’re going back in and we’re just going to have to see where we are. I do know that schools have been working on different options. I know that the State Department of Education has a working group, working with schools, to look at different options. In discussions I’ve had with superintendents, they are all principals and teachers, they’re all looking at different ways, how could they exist in a world where coronavirus is still very much here?

Mike DeWine: (52:33)
How do they get the social distancing? Very difficult, but some have come up with plans, just options. They’re coming up with many options. One option, I think we’ve discussed here before, is a two-day, two-day where you spread the students out more, which means that you’re really having students there for two days, other students there for two days, but you’re doing the distance learning during the entire period of time. So, it’s kind of a kind of a hybrid system. I’m not saying that’s where we end up, but each school is trying to figure out the configuration of their school building and their students How many of the students are picked up in school buses, all these different things, schools are looking at. We have to see where we are with the virus. But my recommendation to schools is, look at different options. Come up with what is unique to you, and where you need to have unique flexibility. Come up with different options and continue to work with the State Department of Education on that.

Andrew Welsh-Huggins: (53:47)
Hello, Governor. It’s Andrew Welsh-Huggins, with the Associated Press. Governor, we’re continuing to see coronavirus cases climb in adult and juvenile prisons in Ohio. We’re obviously, familiar with what’s going on in state prisons, but we’ve now got an outbreak at a DYS facility in suburban Cleveland. Franklin County Juvenile Detention Center has an outbreak. In Morrow County, jail officials say at least 50 detainees being held by ICE, have tested positive. My question is, should more be done to address outbreaks in all correctional facilities, if only because we’re already concerned about flare ups as we reopen and these could contribute to that this summer?

Mike DeWine: (54:35)
What is of grave concern to me, I know it is to the Director, we have many people who are working on this every single day. I’ve asked Governor Strickland, who has had experience, not only as a governor, but experience in working in the prisons, someone who knows a lot about mental health issues. He has been on a lot of calls that we’ve had over the last several weeks and I appreciate the governor being willing to do that. But, we’ve called in Dr. Reggie Wilkinson, who used to head up our prisons, Tom Stickrath. We’ve had medical professionals from the Ohio State University. We pulled in a lot of different people, in working groups, in regard to our prisons. But, it certainly is a grave concern. It is the nature, tragically, it is the nature of congregate living. A big percentage of our prisoners do not live in cells.

Mike DeWine: (55:46)
That might be the concept, if people have not been in a prison. But certainly the ones who are in cells are usually the most high-risk, most dangerous. But, most everybody else about 60% live in a congregate setting almost like you would envision dorms. The nature of that, is that it spreads very, very quickly. The Director was on the screen last week and was talking about the different things that she has been doing, but it is certainly of grave concern. I ask the same question every day. “Are we doing everything that we can?” We’re trying to come up with different things. But, that congregate setting that people, being that close to each other causes a great, great deal of spread. As you know, we went into, and the Director talked about this the other day, in the prisons were we really had a great outbreak. We’ve gone in and tested everybody. We’ve learned a lot from that. One of the things that the medical professionals have told us, as a result of what they found, is that it is probably not prudent to test everybody-

Mike DeWine: (57:02)
… but there are other things that… The testing of the guards are important. We’ve accelerated that. We’re going to continue to accelerate that, and it is of concern not just for the tragedy within the prison, but obviously out into the different communities where people who work in the prisons ended up going back out. Dr Acton, I don’t know if you want to add anything else to that, but…

Dr. Acton: (57:31)
Yeah, that’s… We are aware of those outbreaks, and I know that the local health departments and the hospitals are working alongside the juvenile facilities, and Director Gies is very much on that as well. So yeah, it’s hard. Congregate settings, as the governor said, present so much for the staff. And again, I think the staff and everyone deserve a little extra appreciation attention too, because they go to work and they keep doing the work knowing that it’s a tougher situation, just like our healthcare workers. But we are doing everything we can. And I talked to my fellow state health directors, and we’re seeing this everywhere. Yeah.

Speaker 4: (58:24)
Thank you.

Adrian Robbins: (58:28)
Adrian Robbins, NBC4. And my question’s for the governor. The shutdown has obviously had huge effects on businesses, and now the state as well. How much did seeing these revenue numbers go into your decision to reopen Ohio now, and is it fair to say that the state almost needs this reopening to go as smoothly as these businesses do?

Mike DeWine: (58:52)
I missed the last part. I’m sorry. Say that again, the last part.

Adrian Robbins: (58:56)
Does the state need this reopening to happen smoothly and quickly almost as much as the businesses do?

Mike DeWine: (59:07)
This was really not a factor in making the decision, not the revenue funding. What was part of the decision is we know the social cost, we know the medical cost, the health cost of a huge downturn. And Dr. Acton has talked about that, Lieutenant Governor has just talked about that. So there’s a big cost, not just economically, to a downturn in the economy. You find that depression goes up, you find that domestic violence historically goes up. There’s a lot of bad things that occur during a downturn in the economy, and we know that we cannot sustain that downturn forever, and we’ve got to start moving forward.

Mike DeWine: (59:54)
So all those things factor into the decision that you’ve got to start moving. But I… No, the specific numbers that I was seeing come in did not really impact the decision to open up. We’re not opening up to increase state revenues. Although we do know that the revenue that comes in or does not come in directly impacts schools, it directly impacts our ability to help people with mental health problems. And so it’s not irrelevant, and it certainly is important.

Adrian Robbins: (01:00:30)
Thank you.

Dr. Acton: (01:00:32)
Add to that. We’ve talked to so many different experts as this has gone on, and I’ve looked at a lot of the health economics data, economics being like a field unto itself, even different than looking at business data. And what they have shown so far, some of the best experts in the world, is how we do this and doing it well really matters. And so that’s the part where all the health safety that businesses are taking, and honestly our best chance of being able to maximize that is about our using things like this, and doing all the steps right.

Dr. Acton: (01:01:14)
And I really want Ohioans to understand this, because it is the virus. Our economy was already being disrupted, and there’s already data showing that before there ever was an order, because this is a global pandemic that’s having global effects on supply chains, and people are out sick for a week at a time and then can’t work. And so it’s bigger than all of us here. But the way we can do it the best in Ohio is to really respect the virus, and do it well, respect the workers when we go in by wearing this mask gives us our best chance of maximizing it for all of us. Thank you.

Kevin Landers: (01:01:55)
Kevin Landers, WBNS-10TV. My question is for the Governor. Real quickly, Governor, when did these cuts take effect, and what happens after the two months? And also, what was the biggest pushback that you got when you presented these cuts, did people lobby for deeper cuts? Thank you.

Mike DeWine: (01:02:17)
Well, they take effect immediately. We’re going to obviously go from right now putting these cuts into effect, and starting to look at the budget that begins in July. So those are discussions that we’re going to move immediately to, because it’s going to really be right upon us. We had discussions with the legislature. Look, I mean no one wants to see cuts to education. We’re concerned about the impact of local schools. So I don’t think anybody’s happy about anything, but it is what it is, and we simply have to do what we have to do.

Kevin Landers: (01:03:00)
Do you feel like you cut enough?

Mike DeWine: (01:03:06)
Well, I think it’s the right amount. Obviously we think it’s the right amount, what we up with. But you try to do it so that you can set yourself up, so that you don’t have the rollercoaster next year. I mean it’s, as the Lieutenant Governor pointed out, the vast, vast majority of the money in the state’s budget goes out. It’s not here to run the different agencies or different departments, it goes out into the communities. A lot of it goes out into schools. A lot of it goes out for social services, it goes out and administered locally. So trying to give those local communities some stability and some assurance, we felt that these deeper cuts now would enable us to have a better chance of having the stability as we go through this next year. Without any guarantees, we can’t guarantee anything. But we felt that taking that now, and in doing that however unpleasant it was and is, was the right thing to do and the responsible thing to do.

Randy Ludlow: (01:04:27)
Good afternoon, Governor, Randy Ludlow with the Columbus Dispatch. Disregarding the next couple of months, because many agencies can deal with cuts for a couple of months, but looking at the next school year and given how bad the financial forecast looks, do you envision heavy reductions to the schools continuing in the primary at near record number of school levies failed? The locals may see this as foisting more of the funding burden on local taxpayers, requiring more tax levies. Do you have concern about that?

Mike DeWine: (01:05:06)
Well, as far as your latter comment, of course I certainly have concern about that. I have concern about every school district in the state of Ohio. So yeah, we have concern. We hope to avoid additional cuts. But again, not having a crystal ball, we don’t know that. The reality, and Randy, you’ve been around a little while covering the State House and legislators and the governors. But when you look at the budget and you look at places to cut, there aren’t too many places where you get the real significant money. And we have an obligation with state agencies to go in and do the cuts and do those things. But that does not produce the money that you need, because it’s such a small percentage of the budget. And so when you look at the big ticket items today, it’s Medicaid, it certainly is education, it’s some of our social services. And that’s why these decisions, whoever the governor is, are never particularly easy. And it’s not particularly easy for members of the legislature, either.

Randy Ludlow: (01:06:30)
[inaudible 01:06:30] the local government funds in the next budget year?

Mike DeWine: (01:06:37)
You know, Randy, what we’ve been able to do, we’re able to do in the first year, along with the state legislature, is to give local governments some help by picking up some of the costs. For example, the indigent defense fund that really historically should have been a state obligation. And the locals have ended up paying most of it. We were able to get money back to the counties by picking up a much more significant amount of that. Another area that certainly near and dear to my heart is Children’s Services. We do not want to be in a position, the state does not pay that much for local children’s services anyway, we upped that dramatically in this last year, the budget, we would hope to be able to preserve that, and not foster that onto the local government and hurt the services that we’re providing these kids. But all of these are tough decisions, and we’re going to have to see exactly where we are as we move forward.

Jim Provance: (01:07:49)
Hello, Governor, Jim Provance with the Toledo Blade. Your H2Ohio program to clean up Lake Erie counts not only on funding or appropriations in the current budget these two years, but it was also relying on budget surpluses in future years. Surpluses that I assume you’re probably not too confident are going to show up now. Was H2Ohio one of the programs cut under your plans?

Mike DeWine: (01:08:18)
Well Jim, Kim Murnieks will give all the details, but I know that we made a decision to cut off applications at some point from farmers, when in a regular year we probably would have been able to extend those applications. And to just remind everyone, this is the program to clean up Lake Erie, to deal with the algae bloom. We’re still very much committed to that program. This is something in the longterm. So we want to keep that program going. We want to keep it going as robust as we can. But again, everything is subject to where this economy is going. So it’s still a priority, and we’re going to do the best that we can. But what we did do is where normally we would have extended it and taken some more applications in and got some more farmers in at some point, when it filled we had to shut it down, because we were afraid that we would not have the money to extend it beyond that deadline and those applications.

Jim Provance: (01:09:27)
Thank you.

Laura Bischoff: (01:09:32)
Good afternoon, Governor. It’s Laura Bischoff, Dayton Daily News, I’m last question for the day. Just wondering if you could provide some details on when you’re going to roll out the information on bars and restaurants reopening. And then also you mentioned that you’re working with governor Taft and Governor Celeste and Governor Strickland. I’m wondering if you have called on Governor Kasich for any assistance.

Mike DeWine: (01:09:58)
Yes, I have. And I talked to him a lot about the economy and how we move Ohio back, and we’re not letting the governor off, not without some consultation. So I have found that in these former governors there is a great deal of wisdom, a great deal of knowledge, and a great deal of experience. And I fully intend to continue to utilize all four of them as we move forward.

Mike DeWine: (01:10:35)
As far as your other question, I will be receiving and reviewing the next day reports from the business working groups that we put together, to look at daycare, to look at restaurants and bars, and the other group that was there has been working on hair. And so I will be reviewing these, and we hope on Thursday to have some announcements about that. So we will not be here tomorrow, legislature is in session. Those of you who watch the Ohio channel had the opportunity to watch the state legislature. It’s our goal to be back here on Thursday, and we hope to have, Laura, some announcements in regard to those issues then. So we look forward to seeing everyone, barring something unforeseen when we need to come back here tomorrow. We probably will not be here tomorrow. We look forward to seeing you all on Thursday. Thank you very much.