Governor John Kasich announced Medina as the location of this year’s State of the State address, scheduled for Monday, February 24, at 7:00 p.m. at the Medina Performing Arts Center.  The location was chosen in part to honor Speaker Bill Batchelder (R-Medina), who is term-limited and will be finishing his decades-long career in the Ohio House at the end of this year.  Last year’s speech was held in Lima, located in Senate President Keith Faber’s (R-Celina) district.  Both houses acted quickly to approve the change in location; though, as in past years, some members opposed the move on the grounds that the speech should be made in the Statehouse.

While the Governor has said that the speech has not been written yet, he has given indications in other forums of his priorities and items we can expect to be covered in the speech.  One of the first legislative goals will be the passage of new biennial capital budget bill.  The bill is already in development and marks the return of funding for community projects for the first time since the FY 2009-2010 capital budget bill passed in 2008.  The bill should be introduced in the upcoming weeks.

The Governor and the General Assembly also will be busy with the second Mid Biennium Review (MBR) bill.  Governor Kasich, as a former chair of the U.S. House Budget Committee, has committed to engaging in a thorough budget and process review in the second year of the biennium.  It is clear that tax reform will once again be a large focus of the MBR.  In a recent speech at the annual Ohio Chamber of Commerce Tax Conference in Columbus, Kasich highlighted his goal to get the state’s income tax rate below 5 percent.  The governor said he is a strong believer that continued reductions will put Ohio in a better position to keep its entrepreneurs in the state.  Kasich also continues to advocate for an increase in the oil and gas severance tax, despite some resistance from the legislature and the industry.  The Governor has also focused much attention on strengthening the social system to break the cycle of poverty, expanded career education options and fighting the state’s prescription drug abuse problem.  The MBR should be introduced in the spring.

An online lottery has been established for those seeking tickets to attend the address.  Anyone interested in attending can submit a request for up to two tickets at the Governor’s website - www.governor.ohio.gov/tickets - through 6:00 p.m., Tuesday, February 18.

Candidates for statewide races set

After flirting with challenging Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald for the Democratic nomination in the Governor’s race, Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune announced on February 3 that he will not run, leaving all statewide candidates with a clear path to this fall’s general election.  The current candidates for each race now include:

Click here to view table.

FitzGerald’s running mate, Sharen Neuhardt, is the newest face to the race.  Neuhardt, a Dayton attorney who has run for Congress twice, was chosen to join the ticket after Senator Eric Kearney (D-Cincinnati) withdrew amid concerns about state and federal taxes he and his business owed came to light. Ealy and Gray’s challenge to FitzGerald and Neuhardt was unknown until after petitions were filed on Wednesday, February 5. Ealy has previously run for offices in Montgomery County.

Candidates are working hard to prepare for the long campaign, as recent campaign finance reports from the Secretary of State’s Office show.  Governor Kasich led FitzGerald, reporting more than $7.92 million in his campaign fund.  The Governor’s re-election campaign said it raised more than $4.48 million in the last six months of 2013, while FitzGerald’s campaign committee reported raising $1.6 million for the last half of 2013, with $1.4 million in the bank.  In other races:

  • Attorney General DeWine reported raising $760,655 in the last six months of last year, with $1.8 million on hand. Challenger Pepper reported raising more than DeWine in the second part of last year - $848,455. However, his campaign lags behind the incumbent in campaign funds. He has $764,016 on hand.
  • Auditor Yost reported raising $290,795 in the last six months of the year, and has $776,284 on hand. His opponent, Representative Carney said in a news release that his campaign had raised more than $630,000 in 2013 and had $580,000 cash on hand.
  • Secretary of State Husted reported more than $2.1 million in the bank for his re-election campaign, with $580,234 in contributions for the last half of 2013.  Senator Turner reported raising $407,629 in contributions, but only has $298,652 on hand.
  • Treasurer Mandel once again showed his fundraising prowess, bringing in $1.1 million for the last half of 2013. His campaign reported a balance of $2 million. His challenger, Representative Pillich, reported $634,121 in contributions. Her campaign has a balance of $801,077.

The House Republican caucus reported $2.5 million in contributions for the reporting period, and over $3.9 million on hand.  While the House Democratic caucus reported $205,750 in contributions and has $173,437 on hand.  On the Senate side, the Republican Senate caucus reported $1.7 million in contributions and has nearly $3.6 million on hand. Senate Democrats reported $62,500 in fundraising and have $63,663 on hand.

This year’s general election will take place on November 4, 2014.  Also up for election this year are all members of the Ohio House and Ohio Senators representing odd-numbered districts.