Mike DeWine says, “This is a time to invest in Ohio and invest in Ohioans.” His first two-year state budget plan holds to that appropriate thinking. His fellow Republicans in charge of the Statehouse have cut taxes for years, by as much as $3 billion annually. The governor now is arguing that is enough, his proposed gas tax increase of 18 cents per gallon actually signaling there is revenue to make up. In that way, if he wouldn't invest everywhere the state has a need, his budget plan represents an overdue shift in direction.

Many aspects of the plan were previewed in the days preceding the full unveiling on Friday. The governor has made clear his determination to put “children first,” evident in such proposals as a near-doubling of state funding for child protective services and a similar leap for home visitation programs designed to aid disadvantaged mothers. Yet there was one element along this line the governor reserved for the budget presentation.

His plan calls for routing $550 million for the biennium to support the learning of at-risk students, or those dealing with the trauma that comes with poverty. As the governor has stressed, research shows it takes more resources to educate disadvantaged students. Unfortunately, Ohio has not responded adequately to the evidence, total dollars per pupil in the classrooms of wealthy districts exceeding the amount in poor rural and urban schools.

The governor proposes devoting the new money to mental health care and other wraparound services that help to put students in a better position to succeed. As Jon Husted, the lieutenant governor, noted at the budget presentation, many schools already commit some money to such services. The trouble is they do so at the expense of classroom funds. That isn’t the way to see at-risk students get ahead.

The flow of the additional revenue would track poverty levels. Those with the steepest challenges would see a larger share of resources. In part, the governor is saying that he won’t wait for the emergence of a sufficiently reworked funding formula. He is going directly at the problem. Lawmakers would do well to take his cue.

Ohio rates among the least affordable for higher education, contributing to its shortfall of residents with post-secondary degrees. The state’s vehicle for need-based college aid, the Ohio College Opportunity Grant, long has been underfunded, the $101 million for the current year far below the $250 million recommended by a task force during Bob Taft’s time as governor. Mike DeWine proposes taking the amount to nearly $150 million.

That is a welcome advance, as is the proposed increase, from $16.2 million to $40.2 million, in the Choose Ohio First Scholarship, aimed at students studying science, technology, engineering, math and medicine. This is what the governor means by investing the future. These efforts complement other initiatives such as expanding and elevating the quality of public child care and early education.

At the same time, it is worth stressing that this is just a beginning in view of how Ohio has failed to invest. That is something for lawmakers to bear in mind, especially those blanching at the DeWine levels of spending. For instance, higher education has been neglected the past decade, funding down 20 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars. Yet the governor proposes just a 1 percent increase in the state share of instruction for each year of the biennium.

So an argument that the governor would spend too much rings hollow. He is right to make the case for investment. The idea isn’t that the shortfall can be made up all at once. Rather, Ohio must get started.