I was warned that Governor Ted Strickland’s State of the State speech was going to be pretty boring- but I had no problem watching it from start to finish- and that’s pretty rare for me.

As a matter of fact- I found it really pretty good- especially compared to the recent State of the Union speech given by Bush- which I had to turn off after just a few minutes.

Like all State-of-the-X style speeches this one included a list of initiatives and goals for the upcoming year and, after a quick review of the poor economic conditions in Ohio and nationally- Strickland jumped right into the announcement of a $1.7 billion jobs stimulus plan called Building Ohio Jobs.

While the name of his new plan, Building Ohio Jobs, is pretty generic (I would have gone with some cool acronym like Jumpstart Our Broken System) it does promise to add 80,000 jobs in Ohio by focusing on economic development in the similar areas covered by his Turn Around Ohio initiative: energy, infrastructure, biomedicine, bioproducts and public works.

Jobs and the economy are obviously huge issues to Ohioans – and Strickland did a decent job explaining not only where he was going to focus the stimulus money- but also why.

For example, investment in distribution infrastructure will allow Ohio to attract more distribution centers like the one currently operated by Avon in Zanesville. Avon currently moves over half of their U.S. product line through Ohio creating over 500 jobs for Ohioans.

The Governor moved easily from Jobs to the topic of Education, at one point declaring “Education is the central issue that I face as governor”, and announced a number of plans to help secondary and post-secondary education in Ohio.

I think we’ll have to wait and see if creating a new position, the director of the Department of Education, with oversight over all Department of Education efforts will help or hinder Ohio’s K-12 schools.

But I really like both of the higher education proposals:

The “Seniors to Sophomores Initiative” that will “give every twelfth grader who meets the academic requirements a choice of spending their senior year in their home high school, or spending it on a University System of Ohio campus. Tuition would be free.”

A “10-year strategic plan will guarantee that high-quality associate and bachelor’s degrees in core fields will be available on a campus within 30 miles of every Ohioan.”

Unlike last year’s speech- the Governor didn’t really propose anything controversial (like getting rid of charter schools) this year. I think Jobs and Education are themes everyone can support.

But I know the kids on the right are trying to work out ways to twist the Governor’s words around – making up statistics and lies to make it look like Ted’s not the strong leader everyone thinks he is.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what they come up with. It’s going to be hard since he really didn’t give them much to work with.

Call the speech boring if you want- but I wonder if maybe that was the point.

 

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