Look, if you want a short overview of Kasich’s State of the State address, here it is:
Here’s the long version: The speech was a rambling mess of incomplete thoughts, decrees with no explanation on the plans to address it (while I’m all for ending human trafficking in Ohio, we need a plan, not a Governor to take the time out to point out that 21st century slavery is wrong), and contradictions. Kasich’s aversion to having a speechwriter makes me wonder what a speechwriter could have done to traumatize Kasich to this point.
Kasich chose the Wells Academy to give the address because it’s the top ranked public school in the State. That lead most to reasonably concluded that Kasich was planning to provide some details as to the new school funding formula he’s been talking about for over a year to replace Governor Strickland’s evidence-based model that Kasich repealed with no real replacement in place.
Kasich, at one point in his speech, claimed logistics is becoming an industry in Ohio, and then defended his Administration for announcing it was delaying countless ODOT projects for decades due to lack of funding. Also, apparently John Kasich didn’t know that logistics has always been a major part of our economy. Before airports and the interstate highway system, there were railroads. Before that, canals. Seriously, someone should have just handed him an Ohio history textbook and asked him to read it first and then start over.
Schools need funding, not flags
He never even mentioned the need to get a school funding formula. NEVER mentioned it. Instead, Kasich recapped his record on quadrupling the number of private school vouchers and lifting the cap on charter schools. What’s clear is that Kasich had a plan for them before he took office, and his plan for public education was to drain billions in funding to balance the State’s budget and to subsidize failed charter school operators like White Hat Management. But we were at least promised a formula this year. Time and time again, Kasich fails to meet his own self-imposed deadline to create a funding formula problem of his own making. For a speech that was billed as highlighting successful schools, there was little for public education offered at all except a defense of what Kasich has already done… for charters and parochial schools. Not that Wells Academy was left empty handed. At the end of the speech, Kasich announced he was donating the gigantic State flag that served as his SOTS backdrop, but Ohio’s public schools need funding and a formula, not flags.
Kasich abandons Tea Party for… OBAMA?!?
Kasich publicly began his campaign for Governor speaking at a large Tea Party protest in Columbus on Tax Day. Kasich fueled the crowd with bromides against bailouts. A year ago, Kasich’s State of the State was filled with ideological policy proposals to privatize seemingly everything under the sun. Yesterday, Kasich was defensive about his turnpike privatization proposal to the point of even saying he may not even pursue it.
Yesterday was the day Kasich divorced himself from the Tea Party to run for the middle in the hopes he can rehabilitate his public image enough to win re-election in 2014. He ran for the middle. His speech seemed thin on details because Kasich had no plan for year two. He didn’t expect to be hobbled by the 60% of Ohioans who voted against Issue 2. How different has Issue 2 made Kasich? The guy who ran as the Tea Party candidate who would “stop Obama” is now praising him:
Our schools across the state are, frankly, consistent with the Race to the Top, where I give Arne Duncan and the President great credit for what they’ve done there. We’re moving Ohio forward, but we’ve got a long way to go.
Kasich is even writing an op-ed piece with the Wall Street Journal with the CEO of General Motors (called “Government Motors” by opponents of the successful auto bailout) about the resurgence of manufacturing in Ohio. That cannot be written truthfully without acknowledging that using the TARP funds to bail out the auto industry worked.
Kasich listed the improvements in the auto industry and steel industry. He cited new and expanded projects by Chrysler (bailout), GM’s Chevy Cruze being built in Ohio (thanks to Governor Strickland), Republic Steel (“Auto Bailout/Cash for Clunkers”) and V & M Steel (“stimulus”). Again, as we’ve pointed out before, these are developments the companies executives themselves credit Obama’s policies for making them possible now for Ohio. And many of them have publicly acknowledged were in the works with the support and involvement of the Strickland Administration.
Kasich takes credit for things Ted Strickland actually did and then promises to do things Strickland already did, too.
Kasich praised the creation of a biomedical corridor near Cleveland, which was part of Governor Strickland/Lee Fisher’s Hubs of Innovation. Kasich talked about how his Administration got Phillips to move their R & D from California to Cleveland.
Funny how that very project was announced… by Governor Ted Strickland in 2010.
Kasich, as his done in the past, tried to take credit for the improvement in the outlook of Ohio’s finances, too. The problem is, as we’ve pointed out, is that the credit reporting agencies cited the ability of Ohio’s finances to weather the recession and the fact that Ohio’s “rainy day” fund was being replenished again after being drained by the recession. The “rainy day” fund is how Kasich claims credit for the improved credit outlook. But what Kasich failed to mention is that every penny of the money that went into the “rainy day” fund came from the SURPLUS left by Governor Strickland, and the Kasich Administration had virtually no legal choice but to put that money into the reserve revenue fund.
Kasich also said that he wants companies to be able to trap “waste heat” as a source of renewable energy. Yet again, Kasich is too late. Strickland’s alternative energy portfolio already includes “waste heat” as a source of renewable energy that Ohio must start to utilize more. Time after time, much of what Kasich discussed has already been done by Strickland or is being done now thanks to Obama.
Kasich endorses Obama policy from State of the Union
Not only is Kasich praising Obama’s policies and trying to steal credit for Strickland’s, he’s co-opting Obama’s policies as his own, too. Here’s a portion of the White House’s briefing on Obama’s State of the Union speech last month:
You know we have 80,000 unfilled jobs right now in Ohio, can you imagine that? Okay. Let me tell you what else we have. We have a workforce training program – shame on us – think about this, we have 77 different programs located in 13 different agencies. Now 77 and 13 adds up to zero, because that means there is no accountability whatsoever.
Secondly, we need our community colleges to begin to educate people for these jobs. Now some of them are doing a pretty good job. Some of them aren’t doing a very good job. You know, we only have a 10 percent graduation rate nationwide for community colleges. Community colleges should be like the emergency vehicle when there is a job. Put kids and students in there, including adults, and get them trained quickly so they can get the jobs that are available. So we have to match the community colleges with the business community and the forecasting.
They’re essentially the same. (BTW, if Kasich thinks Ohio’s training programs are bad now, he’d be shocked to learn that Governor Strickland consolidated programs and ended the shameful practice of rejecting federal retraining program funding.) These are training programs, by the way, that Kasich largely opposed in Congress.
What I was able to get from John Kasich’s Second State of the State Address is a frightened politician abandoning the Tea Party to try to blend into a moderate middle. Whereas Kasich used to blast Washington over Obama’s policies, yesterday Kasich blasted the partisanship in Washington, which can only be taken as a slap to Speaker John Boehner.
The speech began with the singing of Kasich’s favorite hymn “How Great Thou Art” (No joke.) The Democrats wanted to play in response Carly Simon’s “You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you.”
I’ve said before that Kasich moved this speech because he simply feels out of his skin to have to be “gubernatorial.” The speech was delivered like you’d expect to see at a rubber chicken county party dinner or chamber event. It even had a brief award presentation. It was as surreal and bizarre as the Cincinnati Enquirer and Associated Press said it was.
But the most surreal aspect of it was suddenly listening to Kasich’s words and realizing that everything he called a success in Ohio was closely tied to Democratic policies. Again, he even explicitly praised Obama over Race to the Top funding. His speech explicitly and implicitly endorsed the polices of the President and tried to take credit from the Strickland Administration.
What was missing, besides a speech writer?
But there were noticeable absences, too. Kasich never mentioned the tragedy in Zanesville. He omitted any hint to SB 5. And he no longer calls his budget the “Jobs Budget” (probably because Ohio has lost jobs since it became law.)
A State of the State is normally a time for a Governor to make a case for his agenda. One of the failings of his last is that Kasich spent little time to try to make a public case for Senate Bill 5. But this is the second SOTS speech in which Kasich made no reference to his campaign promise to start phasing out the State’s income tax. Although his last SOTS speech omitted any reference to repealing the estate tax, too, but it was repealed effective June 30, 2013 in the State budget. Kasich also made no mention of any further planned tax cuts, and Columbus has gone virtually silent since the budget passed about address tax expenditures (mostly special interest tax breaks written into Ohio’s tax laws that cost the State billions in revenues.)
It was a speech devoid of any real substance beyond what I’ve covered. At the end, every aspect of the speech was a perfect symbol of this Administration. Sound and fury, strutting upon the stage promising everything, but signifying nothing. It left much of the media feeling this sentiment.