Ohio Governor John Kasich’s seventh annual State of the State address to a special joint session of the Ohio House and Senate in Sandusky touched on many of the themes that made him among the top Republican candidates during last year’s presidential campaign.
In his speech on April 4, he spoke of progress, innovation, combating addiction, and reconciliation.
“This is the 21st century,” Kasich said. “We’ve got to put our foot on the gas. And I can guarantee you, because I know other states see our success and they want it. So staying on the right track means keeping up the same energy that got us here and building on the ideas that we know work. Conservative budgeting, even in these tight times. More tax reform. More work to streamline regulations, more progress on connecting education and our workforce training with job creators.”
Piggybacking on the proposition of progress, Kasich encouraged innovative solutions.
“Change is coming, whether we like it or not, so let’s accept the change, but reject the fear and the hesitancy and the unwillingness to prepare,” he said. “We must get ahead of this coming tsunami. We have to act and not react. We don’t want to fall behind the curve.”
Kasich was willing to spend money to fight drug abuse and opioid addiction in Ohio.
“Even as we work together on this mission, do all this, drive our strategies at prevention and treatment and interdiction, we’ve got to have a new idea. I’m asking the Third Frontier Commission to provide up to $20 million to help bring new scientific breakthroughs to the battle against drug abuse and addiction. These funds will target existing, proven ideas that simply need an extra push to be brought to the fight.”
Civility and community, a common theme during Kasich’s failed campaign bid, was also part of his address.
“How can we ever learn new ideas or understand how to come together with Americans from different backgrounds unless we talk to one another and hear how others think? We’ve gotten to the point where so much of the time we think we know everything and whoever else doesn’t think the way we think – they’re just dead wrong. That’s not America. We’ve seen an extreme division in our political system.
“I think that if we can begin to address these problems, if we begin to deal with them where we live, solving these problems will bring us together, and it’s up to us. If we begin to work together, we’ll be surprised at how much progress we can make. We’ll begin to solve some of this. We’ll begin to start a dialogue that can pull our country back together, because it isn’t going to come from top down. It’s got to come from us up. That’s the only way this is going to work. And working on these issues together in our community brings us together. We need it.”
Reaction to Gov. Kasich’s speech was largely positive.
“Governor Kasich’s proposed funding to combat the problem of opioid addiction is applauded and welcomed by everyone,” said Dr. Sheldon Retchin, CEO of Wexner Medical Center, in a statement. “This epidemic has ravaged entirely too many Ohio families and communities. The Governor’s leadership is a vital component in this national effort to reduce and ultimately eliminate the destructive impact of addiction.”
“It’s easy for politicians to fan the flames of division,” said Sen. Joe Lieberman, co-chair of No Labels. “It’s hard to bring people together. In his speech, John Kasich did the hard thing and reminded us what real political leadership looks like. His message—that our warring political parties must find a way to common ground—is one that No Labels has been advocating for some time. But Gov. Kasich provided a renewed urgency and a powerful argument for reviving the lost art of bipartisanship. Although Gov. Kasich was speaking to his constituents in Ohio, I sincerely hope leaders in Congress and in the White House heed his call to action.”
“Throughout his tenure, Governor Kasich has consistently demonstrated a recognition of the serious issues of hunger, poor health outcomes and poverty in our state and a commitment to supporting effective solutions to those issues,” said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director, Ohio Association of Foodbanks. “Governor Kasich has spurred Ohio to be a leader in preventing hunger among our most vulnerable residents, and we couldn’t be more grateful for his leadership and partnership throughout his terms as governor. We look forward to implementing a comprehensive approach to hunger relief in partnership with the Ohio General Assembly and as a final testament to Governor Kasich’s legacy in fighting hunger in Ohio.”
Democratic politicians were not as effusive in their comments. Connie Pillich, who is running for Governor in 2018, was among them.
“Governor Kasich’s State of the State ignored the critical fact that our population growth is stagnant and it’s because people are hurting and clearly don’t see a future here in Ohio,” Pillich said in a statement. “This must not be swept under the rug, it should be a call to action.
“I know Ohio is ready to fight and we’re ready for a come back, but first we need unflinching leadership in Columbus to make it happen. I’m not going to ignore the tough realities, I’m going to take them on – just like I was trained to do in the Air Force. We’re a great state with even better people, and together we can improve our schools, rebuild our infrastructure, and bring back industry and the jobs that can support a family.”