As he prepares to deal with a state budget chock-full of policy changes to the biggest, most complex areas of state government, Senate President-elect Keith Faber is ready to toss his entire chamber into the fire.

As he prepares to deal with a state budget chock-full of policy changes to the biggest, most complex areas of state government, Senate President-elect Keith Faber is ready to toss his entire chamber into the fire.

The Celina Republican, who will officially take over as the Senate leader next week, has developed a new committee structure that includes, for the first time in more than 20 years, finance subcommittees designed to examine specific aspects of Gov. John Kasich’s budget.

Faber said he formed the new subcommittees “because this budget is going to be very important this year with big topics: Medicaid, K-12 and higher education, new formulas, new tax issues and other issues.”

Kasich plans to propose a variety of tax changes designed to significantly lower the state income tax, along with a new school-funding formula and changes to Medicaid in the wake of the new federal health-care law.

The Senate’s full Finance Committee, which has far fewer members than its House counterpart, traditionally deals with budget bills as a whole.

In what he’s calling the “out-of-the-box concept,” Faber said he is going to name a number of non-Finance Committee members to the subcommittees. This, he said, will allow nearly every member of the Senate to participate in budget hearings.

“We want to use the talents and skills of the Senate, which cross over beyond the few members that can serve on the Finance Committee,” Faber said. “One of our strongest advantages in the Senate on both sides of the aisle is the skill and the experience of our members.”

Faber is creating three finance subcommittees: Medicaid, education and general government.

He also is forming a new Work Force and Economic Development Committee that, among other things, will tackle improving worker-training programs, an issue Faber expects to make one of the Senate’s top priorities in the first half of 2013.

“To me, education and training are the government’s role in the economy,” he said. “Coupled with sound, flat tax policy, I think you get to a better environment.”

Faber said that although Ohio has good programs to help the unemployed get enhanced career training, the underemployed struggle. “We’re going to have to ask the private sector to participate,” he said.

Other issues that could surface in the Senate in the first half of 2013:

• Redistricting. On the last session day of 2012, a near-unanimous Senate passed a new system for drawing legislative and congressional districts. That plan, which would require bipartisan support to approve new maps starting in 2021, is expected to be reintroduced quickly this year.

House Speaker William G. Batchelder, R-Medina, has said he prefers having the new Constitutional Modernization Commission examine the issue. Faber said he is not opposed to that, “but I want to hear when we’re going to do it and how it’s going to come up on their agenda. Leaving it to languish for a few years is not a viable option.”

• Internet cafes. The House passed a bill in December that would have essentially shut down these gambling sites, but the Senate punted the issue to 2013. “The state has said gambling needs to be done for a public purpose, and I’m not sure where the public purpose is for Internet-cafe gambling,” Faber said.

• Election law. GOP lawmakers repealed their major election-law overhaul last year when Democrats were ready to put it on the ballot for voters to consider. Some version of that bill, with set days and hours for early voting, is likely to resurface.

“This is probably the best time to do an elections bill,” Faber said, noting it is far away from the next presidential contest. “I think everybody recognizes there needs to be some stability and consensus in the way we run elections and do early voting.”

Faber said requiring photo ID for voters will be discussed. “I’m curious to see what has happened in the other states that have passed photo ID.”

• Abortion. If Faber had been in charge last year, most think a bill giving Ohio the most-restrictive anti-abortion law in the nation likely would have passed the Senate. Former President Tom Niehaus blocked the House-passed measure because he saw it as unconstitutional and potentially damaging to the anti-abortion movement.

“I am not going to get in the way of the bill if members of the Senate want to move the bill,” Faber said, stressing that it is not a priority.