As Plunderbund and others forecasted, Gov. John Kasich’s State of the State [SOTS] speech from Marietta Wednesday night was mostly an echo of what he’s said in the five previous ones, with minor tweaks added that reflect his 177 days out of the state running for president.
The governor’s fifth SOTS held outside the Ohio Statehouse, this one held in a refurbished theater, offered his standard backdrop, an over-sized Ohio flag. On his way to the stage, Ohio’s 69th governor plucked a baby away from its mother and carried it, hugging it and beaming a big smile as he went, until the mother reclaimed so Ohio’s top leader could start his very familiar, heard-before remarks.
Gov. Kasich, who barely won in 2010 but waltzed to an easy victory in 2014, hit all his traditional talking points in a shorter presentation that was unique from his previous ones in on key way, he read from prepared remarks.
In his second try at the Oval Office in 16 years, John Kasich has only finished first so far in one out of 31 contests, winning his home state of Ohio. On Tuesday he finished a distant third in Wisconsin. Meanwhile, a new Quinnipiac University poll reports that Gov. Kasich is running third in his birth state’s [Pennsylvania] April 26 GOP primary.
Ohio Was Hurt But Not Busted
“Our budget was busted, our reserves were empty and our credit outlook was in the tank. We had an ineffective economic development program, high taxes and heavy handed regulation. We had lost 350,000 jobs. That’s 350,000 families that really got bad news. And we were $8 billion in the hole,” he told the crowd who traveled to southeast Ohio along the Ohio River and others watching on TV.
Ohio’s 63-year old, term-limited leader has embedded these talking points into his presidential campaign presentations. While they sound impressive, Mr. Kasich’s rendition of his time in office veers sharply from what others believe is a more truthful view of his real record.
In advance of his event, One Ohio Now [OON], a statewide tax and budget coalition of 100 health and human service, labor, and advocacy organizations, offered a contrasting view.
“If tax cuts are the answer for Ohio, when will we see the results?” OON spokesman Gavin DeVore Leonard said. “We’ve consistently trailed the nation in job growth and we’re below average for poverty, hunger, and wages.” Leonard noted the governor’s use of the word “jobs” 25 times and his promise to cut income taxes going forward. A big hit with his Republican base, cutting income taxes for the wealthiest while raising sales taxes that disproportionately hurt middle- and low-income citizens hasn’t proved its worth, OON argued, saying there is little to no correlation between state income tax cuts and economic growth. “In fact, after 10 years of major tax changes in Ohio, it’s hard to point to a single piece of evidence that those changes have worked,” Leonard notes in prepared remarks. He added, “Instead of spending billions more on tax cuts that have overwhelmingly benefited the wealthy, he should call for meaningful investments to these public services that will enrich the lives of all Ohioans.”
Brown Says Ohio Better In Spite Of ‘Drag Of State Government’
Similar thoughts were expressed earlier in the day Wednesday by Ohio’s senior U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown. In his weekly mid-week conference call with reporters, Plunderbund asked Brown to offer his views on the state of the state. Sen. Brown said the turning point for Ohio came when President Obama saved the auto industry, that one out of every eight working Ohioans are tied to directly or indirectly. Gov. Kasich, like other Republicans, has called the president’s move throwing good money after bad. Brown pointed to job growth, month after month, as a sign President Obama’s recovery plans are working even though Gov. Kasich and congressional Republicans refuse to accept the facts and work to hobble the president’s agenda.
Brown said the Kasich Administration has not been helpful when it cuts local money for local communities then pushes tax cuts for the wealthiest. Brown called on Gov. Kasich to make more investments in colleges and universities and local communities. “The state is generally in good shape and a good place to live,” he said, adding that there are still so many opportunities that could be if John Kasich was more progressive. The state of the state is generally pretty good, he said, but “it could be better without the drag of state government” holding it back.
Veteran Boccieri Weighs-In On Kasich Commitment To Veterans
In his remarks Gov. Kasich touched on help for military families and veterans. “And we also want to give extra support and encouragement to the children of our active duty military families who must often move from place to place. That can be hard for students, and our new Military Family Opportunity Scholarship will help provide relief by giving military families new choices to best meet their children’s education needs. It’s the least we can do for families who give so much to support our country,” he said.
A veteran pilot whose duty includes tours in Iraq, State Rep. John Boccieri (D-Poland) said better investment in public education, prioritizing workforce retraining and supporting the nation’s fighting forces are universal policies that we can all agree on. “It’s a common bond we share in the buckeye state,” he said Thursday in a media release.
The military veteran who again is back in the Ohio legislature, Rep. Boccieri isn’t happy with the state’s economic condition. “We are on shaky footing economically. In the past five years, the Mahoning Valley has lost millions in Local Government Fund revenue and our communities have suffered as a result. We still have a lot of work to do to raise middle class wages, invest more in our workforce and secure solid funding for our community schools, infrastructure and the like. I hope the governor has a plan to address these priorities quickly so Ohioans can get back on their feet.”
The view of the state of the state by Mr. Boccieri takes Gov. Kasich’s view head on. Kasich, he said, “has cut over $1.7 billion in local community funding during his tenure, money that cities and towns use to pay for emergency personnel, pave roads and deliver clean water, and provide a quality public education to our children. Over 70 cities have lost at least $1 million each year due to Kasich’s budgeting and tax decisions, and 12 small cities have lost at least $2 million each, per year because the state continues to keep more revenue instead of sending it back to the local communities in which it is generated. At the same time, 32 Ohio cities are on the state’s fiscal distress list because of inadequate finances needed to provide basic services and meet fiscal obligations.”
Kasich’s Job Record Challenged By Facts
“Our economic growth is increasing both the number of jobs available as well as the types of jobs available,” Gov. Kasich said. But that upbeat view is challenged by others who say Kasich’s narrative relies on jobs created by his predecessor, Gov. Ted Strickland, who was the real governor who turned Ohio around from the wreckage levied up it by the Great Recession. Plunderbund has reported on Mr. Kasich’s failure for 39 straight months so far to even meet the average national job creation rate. And the jobs created on his watch so far have been mostly lower paying minimum wage jobs. According to Ohio experts, about 285,000 Ohioans are still waiting for Mr. Kasich’s economic miracle to shed its light on them.
“We can solve so many of life’s problems by working person to person, neighbor to neighbor — by coming together. That’s where the best solutions come from, when instead of looking to government to do things for us, we use the tools and gifts we each have and take control of our lives. Yes, I know that government can create an environment for success, and tear down barriers, but in the end the responsibility for our lives and the strength of our communities lies with what we do. I happen to believe we must each strive to live a life bigger than ourselves, to take our special gifts that the Lord has given us. He’s given us these gifts to live a life bigger than ourselves for purposes of healing this world,” Gov. Kasich said last night.
While the rhetoric sounds good, those who know John Kasich the best know that his CEO-style mindset doesn’t allow for different views entering his ideology that attributes original sin to government, an institution he has made it his lifelong goal to whittle down, to reign in to serve as handmaiden to the private sector. Except for his one-off relationships over the decades with a Democrat here and there, few from the opposing party can point to any sustained relationship building between Kasich and his ideas and theirs.
For everyone who thinks John Kasich leaves anything to chance, a quick review of what he and his team are prepared to do to guarantee wins is on full display in a lawsuit that’s been filed with the Court of Appeals of Ohio, Tenth Appellate District.
Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni from Boardman got a ride on Kasich’s plan to Marietta. Although he accepted the lift to the speech, he’ cautious to not confuse rhetoric with action. He said as much after the speech when asked if the new John Kasich running for president is really the same John Kasich whose history of being antagonist and hostile to his opponents and detractors is part of his biography?
“I don’t want to say no,” Schiavoni told one news group. “But actions speak louder than words.