Governor John Kasich and the members of the General Assembly traveled to the Medina Performing Arts Center on Monday, February 24, 2014, for the Governor’s fourth annual “State of the State” address. Governor Kasich provided an overview of the progress of his administration and the state, showing how far the state has come since the state faced an $8 billion budget deficit in 2011. Kasich included a strong focus on the tax cuts that have been enacted, including the elimination of the estate tax and cuts to the personal income tax; infrastructure investments; Cleveland school reforms and support for addiction and mental health services. The governor stated that Ohio is moving in the right direction, noting that 170,000 jobs have been created in the state over the last three years, but said there still is a lot to do to see a full recovery.
In talking about the importance of job growth, the Governor stressed that it is important to protect the state’s budget health, saying that when job creators see the state’s finances are in good shape, they want to come here. Kasich again touted the success of JobsOhio, the private economic development agency created three years ago to provide better business development services. The Governor also spent a large part of his address tying job creation to his early, K-12 and higher education proposals.
The proposals Governor Kasich asked the legislature to work on included:
- Another round of income tax cuts to get the state’s income tax rate below 5 percent;
- Increased administrative support and focus on minority business programs;
- Creation of alternative high school graduation pathways, including vocational training, to address dropout issues;
- Use of $10 million in casino licensing fees to create a matching grant for local student mentoring programs;
- Creation of an online portal outlining career pathways for students starting from the middle school level through the college level;
- Increased focus and support for programs to award credit for college courses taken in high school;
- Increased support and funding for early childhood education;
- Increased availability of college credits for armed forces veterans based on their service experience, and
- Increased funding for tobacco cessation programs.
In addition to announcing new proposals, Governor Kasich also used the speech as an opportunity to laud Medina native Speaker of the House Bill Batchelder for his long service in the House. Batchelder, who is term-limited this year, began his service in the 1960s and returned to the House seven years ago after serving as an appellate court judge. During the speech, the Governor announced that the Medina Highway Patrol Post will be named after Speaker Batchelder.
Governor Kasich also awarded this year’s Governor’s Courage Awards to Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, the young women who escaped captivity last year after being kidnapped in Cleveland more than a decade ago. All three women attended the speech and received their awards in person to a long standing ovation from the audience.
A recording of the Governor’s address can be found at: www.ohiochannel.org.