Anyone want to take a guess which “major new program” Kasich announced at the Ohio State fair this week?

Could it be he finally figured out a way to eliminate Ohio’s income tax, as he promised during the campaign?

Oooh! Maybe he FINALLY announced a school funding plan? Or a way to expand Medicaid to cover uninsured Ohioans? Or a way to sell Ohioans on his severance tax plan?

If you guessed any of the above you’d be wrong. Wrong, wrong and wrong.

Instead, the “major program” Kasich announced at the fair grounds, according to Vindy’s Marc Kovac – is…


Kasich, surrounded by the Statehouse press corps, made the big announcement that he wanted to get more “trees planted across the entire fairgrounds” while attending the State Fair last week. The program, which he appears to have just made up on the spot, will be “like nothing anybody‚Äôs ever seen before”. Except, he says, it will be just like Kennywood park in Pennsylvania, near Kasich’s home town of McKees Rocks, PA.

Now to be fair, standing out among the kiddie rides, games and food vendors at the fair myself yesterday, I did wish there was a little more shade. And trees would certainly be a nice solution to this problem. But as with most of Kasich’s big ideas, he never stops to consider any of the details or to consult with any advisers before just blurting promises someone else will have to keep.

According to local nurseries, a single, 20 foot shade tree, installed, could likely start at $500. But Kasich expects them to donate these trees – costing possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars – to him for free? Designing the proper placement of these trees will need to be done by expensive experts and will require planning around all of the underground and overhead infrastructure like electricity and water lines and sky rides, not to mention all the transient infrastructure like tents and rides and stages accompanying the wide variety of events on the site? Will Kasich expect all of these experts to donate their time as well? And who will maintain the trees, cleaning up the leaves and keeping the trees trimmed? How much extra funding will the expo commission need to fund this ongoing maintenance?

Another quick thought: the The Ohio Nursery and Landscape Association (ONLA) regularly lobbies the state on behalf of their members. Are they and their members now under political pressure to show up and support Kasich’s plan with their own dollars by donating trees? It seems to be a solicitation of a donation by Kasich, but outside of the campaign finance system. Kind of “shady” if you ask me.

Now I’m not trying to be a negative Ned here. I think we can all agree more trees is a nice idea. So is more shade at the Fair Grounds. But this whole plan – which Kasich seems to have just dreamed up on the spot without any input from anyone who actually knows anything about trees or fair grounds – reminds me of his big idea to put a new memorial on the Statehouse grounds, which he pushed forward against the advice of the people who maintain the Statehouse, without ever considering if the new monument might collapse the parking garage below it.

King Kasich commands it. Let it be done. And screw the cost, consequences or concerns of those who might actually be impacted by the decision.

You can see all of Kovac’s videos of Kasich’s day at the fair here, including this one of the Governor making his big announcement about the trees.