John Kasich headlined the Ohio Chamber of Commerce’s 2014 year end review in downtown Columbus on Thursday. The governor’s message and delivery were virtually identical to last year. From keeping Ohio’s fiscal house in order to creating a climate for job creation, Gov. Kasich was swooned over by Senate President Keith Faber, who will return in that role for the next two years, and House Speaker Bill Batchelder, who first entered the legislature in 1968 and whose final day arrives Dec. 31.
Now on the long list of possible GOP presidential hopefuls for 2016, Gov. Kasich told a ballroom full of agency administrators and lobbyists what to expect from his Administration. High on that list is fixing a lack of regulations on charter schools, further reducing income taxes and finding equilibrium with respect to renewable-energy mandates.
Back from a road trip last week to Arizona, where he tried to convince legislators there to adopt a resolution for a federal balanced budget amendment, Gov. Kasich said he hasn’t talked with anyone yet who’s not for it. The former Fox TV political talk show host has clearly not spoken to the Wall Street Journal or Forbes Magazine, two pro-business and pro-growth media sources, who think the idea behind his crusade is stupid in principle and dangerous in practice were it to become embedded in the U.S Constitution. Experts, both right and left, say it’s a long-shot that might be another decade in the making. Mr. Kasich hopes a couple more states passing resolutions for it will kick the issue to the forefront.
High on Gov. Kasich’s list of accomplishments this year was saying he went from a low 31-percent job approval record to winning his second term by approximately the same margin. He touted the benefits of expanding Medicaid, a fight he won administratively over a legislature out to prevent the state from doing so.
He called out JobsOhio, his privatized version of Ohio’s formerly public job-creation office, as a great advance. But as Mr. Kasich was inside repeating some of the same copy that appeared in his late campaign commercials on his job-creating prowess, Ohio jobs statistics released today show Ohio now has a new streak of seven consecutive weeks with its level of new unemployment claims in the elevated “job destruction” range. Cleveland-based George Zeller, Ohio’s undisputed master score keeper on labor data told OhioNewsBureau today, “The fresh deterioration in this week’s Ohio new unemployment claims is a potentially unfavorable leading indicator in advance of new Ohio job data for November 2014 scheduled for release tomorrow on December 19 that will measure whether Ohio’s continually below average recovery is finally improving to national norms.”
Gov. Kasich said reports show that JobsOhio is one of the best run entities of its kind in the nation. Meanwhile, Arizona State’s business school continually ranks Ohio among the bottom 15 states in job creation. Labor data specialist Zeller says statistics show Ohio under Gov. Kasich has gone 24 consecutive months of significantly under performing the national job creation average.
The significant bills recently signed into law by Gov. Kasich included the biggest budget in state history at $62 billion, an overhaul of Ohio’s municipal tax system, loosening of concealed-carry training requirements and legislation to impose new rules on abortion clinics, the AP reported. Kasich won with a large percentage, but in the lowest voter turnout since the 1940s, fewer than 1 in 4 registered voters cast their ballot for him. Some might point to his signing legislation eliminating Ohio’s so-called “golden week,” when voters could both register and cast their ballots. Final voter turnout was about 40 percent of the state’s approximately 7.8 million registered voters.
Gov. Kasich also brought his bus with him again today, the bus he promised when first elected in 2010 he would run over people who get in his way. Facing a room full of lobbyists, many of whom have realized all their hopes and dreams from this governor, Mr. Kasich said he’s ready to be even more confrontational in his second term to those who oppose him. His admonitions today are curious given his favorite sermon, that everyone but him is mired in politics and that progress can’t be made because people don’t come together. Gov. Kasich has done as much if not more to divide people along income, work and gender lines than he has to bring them together as he claims to want to do. He lost his Tea Party base early on, he split the state on women’s health rights, he’s cut off food help to others while cutting back on workers compensation schedules to Ohioans still looking for work under his administration.
Putting more money in the rainy day fund, Gov. Kasich said, is a priority for him. The former 9-term Congressman known for budget cutting zeal, said the rainy day fund needs to be strong enough to withstand future economic collapses so budgets don’t have to be cut. He issued a call for entrepreneurs, as all governors in all state do, and raised a concern he has no control over, but which has been Ohio’s Achilles Heel for decades now: slow growth in population. Each ten years the U.S Census Bureau perform a nationwide census. As a result of growth in southern and western states, Ohio has lost four congressional seats—which translates into four fewer Electoral College votes—over the last two cycles, while a state like Texas has gained that many and more during the same time period.
Gov. Kasich didn’t debate his challengers this year as previous governors have their opponents and bolted on reporters today unlike last year, when he, Speaker Batchelder and President Faber faced media. Some members of the media were overly miffed Gov. Kasich dodged them at two events today.