© 2024 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

State budget will benefit Portage County, State Rep. Gail Pavliga says

State Rep. Gail Pavliga is sworn in to represent Ohio's 72nd House District, which covers most of central and southern Portage County.
House Majority Comms
Ohio House of Representatives
State Rep. Gail Pavliga represents Ohio's 72nd House District, which covers most of central and southern Portage County.

The newly signed state budget will bring many benefits to Portage County, State Rep. Gail Pavliga said. The budget includes funding for affordable housing and mental healthcare.

Pavliga said she’s most proud of a provision in the budget that creates new tax credits for developers to build low-income rental units. She proposed the idea in a separate bill after hearing about the struggle residents had in finding low-income housing in Kent and Ravenna, with some residents spending more than 50% of their income on rent.

“And we feel that’s going to spur each year up to potentially a couple thousand new units," Pavliga said.

This provision will have a huge impact on Portage County, she said.

"We are now going to be able to attract development here with contractors to be able to build affordable housing and be able to get workforce, senior citizen housing and many other things that we so desperately need," Pavliga said.

The budget also includes $2.5 million for a crisis stabilization center in Portage County and fully funds 988, the suicide and crisis hotline. The crisis stabilization center, which will be part of Coleman Health Services, will fill a huge need in the county, Pavliga said.

"If somebody is having a mental health crisis, they usually end up either over at a jail or they end up at an emergency room at a hospital, which is not a great place for somebody who's having a mental health crisis or breakdown," Pavliga said.

The center will also have beds for children experiencing mental health crises.

"There will be hopefully in Portage County no such thing as a foster child or somebody in crisis sleeping in the JFS [Department of Jobs and Family Services] hallways or something of that nature, which has certainly happened due to not having the places to take children," Pavliga said.

Money will also go toward training more dentists to work in rural areas.

“NEOMED [Northeast Ohio Medical University], which is going to get ready to start the third dental school here in Ohio, we got them several million to continue toward their goal of opening in the spring of ’25," Pavliga said.

Also in the budget is statewide expansion of the private school voucher program and personal income and business tax cuts.

Notably missing from the budget is most of Senate Bill 83, a controversial bill that would have set what many called “anti-woke” rules for higher education. Pavliga, whose district includes three higher education institutions, said she will continue listening to people’s concerns.

“It was a very big bill," Pavliga said, "and I think that the parts of it that were passed within the budget are things that partially that people can live with, especially establishing the civics institutions at the different universities I think is a good start.”

The budget includes a plan to create five centers that will cultivate free expression at public universities, including Cleveland State.

Updated: July 10, 2023 at 11:42 AM EDT
The story has been updated to correct the district that Rep. Pavliga represents which changed as a result of redistricting.
Abigail Bottar covers Akron, Canton, Kent and the surrounding areas for Ideastream Public Media.