“InnovateOhio” was a central campaign promise of the Mike DeWine/Jon Husted gubernatorial ticket that ended up securing Husted a $176,426 salary.
DeWine and Husted, now governor and lieutenant governor, announced the initiative in September 2018 and said it would “bring the best and brightest technology minds” to Ohio to help “improve state and local government.”
“The private sector uses innovative ideas and technology to improve their customer service and save money, and there is no reason we can’t bring that approach to the way our government operates,” Husted said at the time.
According to a press release from the campaign, InnovateOhio is “about how we make state government a more effective and efficient leader in using technology to improve customer service and save tax dollars.”
“In doing so, we make Ohio a state that attracts talent, business, and new investment,” the press release added.
Specific proposals under the InnovateOhio initiative included the funding of “at least 10,000 in-demand industry certificates,” which was included in DeWine’s first budget proposal, and the establishment of “opportunity zones for economically-distressed communities.”
Republicans, who said they wanted to create a good relationship with the incoming administration, then addressed InnovateOhio in a December 2018 bill. Senate Bill 296 was initially focused on providing health benefits to the families of deceased first responders, but turned into a 43-page bill on government pay raises.
First, it increased the lieutenant governor’s salary from $78,041 to $113,900. It then established the “office of InnovateOhio” within “the office of the governor,” and mandated a $176,426 salary for the director of that office.
“If the governor appoints the lieutenant governor as an administrative department head or as the head of an office within the office of the governor, the lieutenant governor may accept the salary for that office while serving as its head in lieu of the salary for the office of lieutenant governor,” it then added.
On January 8, DeWine appointed Husted as director of InnovateOhio, meaning he could legally take its $176,426 salary in lieu of the $113,900 lieutenant governor’s salary. But, thanks to Senate Bill 296, Husted would still be guaranteed a six-figure income even if DeWine were to remove him from his role as director of InnovateOhio.
The lieutenant governor’s previous $78,041 salary was generally attributed to the ceremonial nature of the role. As secretary of state, Husted received a $109,691 salary, which means InnovateOhio provided him with a $66,735 pay raise.
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Jon Husted” by Jon Husted. Background Photo “Ohio State Capitol” by Alexander Smith. CC BY-SA 3.0.