It would be hard to differentiate Tuesday night’s State Of the State Speech in Wilmington from the previous four Gov. Kasich has delivered in as many years. It would be easy, however, to have fallen asleep for the better part of the hour it took him to deliver it and have essentially missed nothing of note from the same syrupy sermon on economics and job creation he is expert at delivering.
In the world of John Kasich, built over decades by his handlers and those who surround him as protectors and purveyors of his brand of corprocratic mumbo-jumbo, the State of Ohio, when he took over in 2011, was about people losing hope in what their future would be. According to the now twice elected, he saw the look of anguish on people’s faces and forged as his mission to fix and restore them so they could regain their footing to seize great opportunities.
To others who heard the speech at the Roberts Centre, like Senate Democratic Leader Joe Schiavoni, Ohio continues to trail most other states in job creation, poverty is up while top earners are happy. The Governor is padding their bank account with another income tax cut, he said, “but if you’re like most Ohioans, you will be paying more taxes because of a tax shift that puts a greater burden on on the middle class.”
“The Governor has also failed to address the future of our state by adequately investing in education. More than half of Ohio’s school districts would see a funding cut as a result of his budget proposal. Charter schools, though, would see an increase in state funding. “That’s a flawed plan that would move our state in the wrong direction. The Governor should be focused on giving all Ohioans a brighter future, not just a few. And that means investing in job training, education and our local communities.”
Senator Sandra Williams, a Democrat from Cleveland, was likewise not swallowing Gov. Kasich’s claims of miracles being performed. She said the governor should focus instead on encouraging growth at the local level, by providing adequate funding to local school districts, public safety and emergency services, and small businesses. “Ohio has a hefty rainy day fund that can ease the burden that many of our communities are facing. It is time that we begin to restore the fiscal partnership between the state and local governments—and not provide more giveaways to big corporations,” she said in a statement. Instead of expanding tax cuts, a philosophy experts say there is no supporting data for in Ohio, Sen. Williams advises this administration implement policies that expand investments to working families, including investments that provide job training, fair and equal pay, and safe workplaces for those hurt most by the economic downturn. “Ensuring Ohioans have access to the tools needed to land high in-demand jobs will be the foundation in building Ohio’s future,” she said.
There was also no surprise in the well-rehearsed but leaky boat Ohio Republican Chairman Matt Borges, hand picked by Gov. Kasich, used to float his approval of tonight’s grab bag of policies and programs his party’s leader said he wants all the lawmakers who were in Wilmington tonight to endorse.
“Four years ago Ohio was a mess. We had lost 350,000 jobs, our Rainy Day Fund was nearly empty, and Governor Kasich faced an $8 billion budget deficit,” Borges said in a statement. “The Governor’s common-sense conservatism pulled us out of the ditch and balanced the budget with a surplus while cutting taxes. Now, nearly 300,000 jobs have been created. Tonight the Governor showed again why he is the right person to lead our state with innovative, common-sense, and compassionate ideas.”
New Chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, David Pepper, viewed the speech through a distinctly different prism, summing it up in four words: “trickle down doesn’t work.” Mr. Pepper said what other experts show as fact, Ohio’s recovery, at 37th, is lagging most other states, and workers wages remain stagnant. “Too many working families continue to struggle, and Gov. Kasich keeps asking those with the least to pay more in order to fund tax cuts for those doing well,” he said. Pepper notes that the average family in Wilmington will pay $122 more taxes, based on Gov. Kasich’s latest tax plan.
Mr. Kasich took aim at his key enemies of the state: special interests and the status quo. He vowed to win more battles against the them, and said Ohio cannot drift, otherwise special interests will “lock us in where we are today.” Leaders like the governor walk a lonely path because they don’t “put their finger in the air about who likes you.” He again said Ohio “is open for business” and that he talks with CEOs on a nearly daily basis. Unfortunately, all that talking hasn’t helped Ohio move higher than 37th place among states in job creation.
Gov. Kasich talked in circles at times, saying Ohio is getting older and that young people are not replacing aging baby boomers who are retiring, then doing an about-face, saying he wants young people to stay in Ohio instead of going to other faster growing states where new tech jobs are plentiful. But as always with Gov. Kasich, government has original sin, and restraining its growth is paramount to him. High taxes, he said, punish risk taking investments. He wants no taxes for small business that earn up to two million dollars a year. Even though he’s made his career out of government employment, Gov. Kasich attacks it as if it was a cancer and he is a cancer-fight drug. Ohioans, he said, “will always know how to spend it [money] better than government ever could … don’t forget, that low taxes signal to job creators Ohio is an attractive place…”
Already campaigning for president in 2016, the future GOP hopeful said new jobs need new businesses and new businesses need new investment. “Investments … ends with higher family income, let’s do more of it.” Explaining his “consumption tax model,” he said it depends on bringing the top [income] rate down and helping the working poor with incentives.”
He touched on the hot button issue of charter schools, saying “we need charter schools” and that he wants bad charter school sponsors to lose their schools to good charter school sponsors. And even for charter schools whose students don’t perform well, Gov. Kasich believes they are not failing because students could be worse off somewhere else. He said the days of agrarian schooling, where students went to class, are over. Consistent with his bedrock belief that dependency on government by people is bad, he said welfare should not be a “way of life but a way station to become independent.
Gov. Kasich saluted former Democratic State Senator Nina Turner, who last year ran for Secretary of State largely on a plan to undo the all the damage Gov. Kasich has done by signing bills that sought to protect his flank when running for reelection and that tried to suppress voting by traditional Democratic constituencies, including minorities, students and seniors.
Gov. Kasich also touched on increasing severance taxes, among others issues. He did not mention Medicaid or expanding Medicaid, a position Democrats pushed him to do, even though Republican lawmakers shot that policy down in the last budget cycle. Kasich went around them, by going through an administrative worm hole to accept $2.5 billion in federal funding made possible through the Patient Protection and Affordability Act, also known as Obamacare.