In his record 15th State of the City speech last night, Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman promised to spend money to improve the local poverty rate, boost preschool education, decrease homelessness and improve the environment.
Coleman touted his policies of public subsidies for profitable businesses as job creators, but admitted the benefits have not trickled down to everyone.
Coleman proposed spending 1.5 million city dollars on partnerships with Columbus State Community College and others to identify positions that lack qualified applicants and develop job-training programs.
Coleman also introduced his newly appointed education director, Columbus teachers union president Rhonda Johnson.
Johnson served on the mayor's education commission last year, which issued recommendations to improve schools and backed the Columbus City Schools' levy voters soundly rejected. Johnson's teacher and school employee critics say she worked too closely with district officials and helped facilitate the district's troubled internal culture. Coleman also pledged to spend 5 million city dollars on programs to improve preschool education, citing the success of similar efforts elsewhere.
Coleman also pledged to spend 1.1 million city dollars to help the homeless find affordable housing. And he announced a 30 year, 2.5 billion dollar project that will divert storm-water runoff to rain gardens built on vacant land.
The project was launched on a small scale in 2012. Coleman also outlined details of a new program to add more affordable housing stock downtown.