COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gov. Ted Strickland on Wednesday proposed a $1.7 billion economic stimulus package to revitalize the economy in the midst of a national slump. He also proposed a plan in his second State of the State speech that would allow eligible high school seniors to spend their last year in high school taking classes on an Ohio public college campus for free.
Strickland, a Democrat, also called for a high-quality associate or bachelor’s degree be available within 30 miles of all Ohioans.
The stimulus package could create 80,000 new jobs in Ohio, he said. The money would pay for renewable energy projects, state infrastructure programs such as bridge and road replacement and biomedical technology.
“It would be irresponsible for us for us to remain in neutral when there’s a need for us to be in high gear,” he said. “The national downturn in our economy is costing us jobs and we need to act quickly.
The plan would include investments of $250 million in renewable energy like solar, wind and clean coal power, $150 million in state infrastructure such as roads, $100 million in bioproducts made from renewable resources instead of plastic and $200 million in the biomedical industry.
The plan also would invest $200 million in a program to revitalize downtown neighborhoods and $400 million in the Clean Ohio fund to clean up abandoned factory sites.
Strickland struck an optimistic tone despite the state’s economic difficulties, reminding listeners of Ohio’s roots as a state founded by intrepid pioneers.
“The state of the state is resolute,” Strickland said. “We are challenged but we will not back down.”
The governor said he’s directing Eric Fingerhut, chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents, to create a system giving high school students the option of studying on a college campus their last year.
Upon graduation, participating students would receive a high school diploma and a year of college credit.
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