Published Tue, Feb 19, 2013 8:28 pm Dateline
In his hour-long annual State of the State address Tuesday night, Republican Ohio Governor John Kasich highlighted job creation efforts around the state, his education funding reform proposal, new tax cuts in the biennium budget and the expansion of Medicaid.
It was expected Kasich would focus on the topics he had previously unveiled earlier in the month and use the speech to further tout his proposals.
Kasich began by saying jobs are the state's greatest moral purpose because they create stronger families and allow people to fulfill their hopes, their dreams and their purposes.
Kasich says he has succeeded in his promise to put Ohio to work and reclaim the state's title as one of the country's great states.
Kasich touted Ohio has added 120,400 jobs on his watch, is the number one job creator in the Midwest and number six in the country.
“We are succeeding here in Ohio at turning our state around and it is fantastic,” said Kasich to the crowd gathered in Lima’s Veterans Memorial Civic Center.
The governor also used his speech to remind people the state's budget is balanced and the state has gone from having 89 cents in its rainy day fund to a $1.9 billion surplus.
Kasich called his school-funding proposal an objective plan that applies equally to all districts based on their property tax wealth, residents' income and individual characteristics of students they serve.
"Ohio must help those schools that do not have the resources to help themselves," said Kasich.
Kasich said in his speech that Ohio's poorest districts and urban districts get more money than the state's wealthiest districts.
"This is driven by the needs of students, not by the needs of adults," said Kasich.
Kasich says those districts also get more per-pupil funding before funding guarantees are factored in.
The governor says his plan provides a total of $1.2 billion in new money in 2014 and 2015, which means that by the end of the next two years Ohio will be providing students more in state aid than they received at the height of the 2011 federal stimulus plan.
Kasich said that the state's higher education system is one of the greatest assets for economic development.
The governor also said in Tuesday's State of the State speech that the state must better integrate job creators in the state's academic settings and academic programs.
Kasich said this is important so Ohio children will receive the skills they need based on their passions and ambitions to fill the jobs of the future.
The governor says a full integration will allow young people to chart a course for a successful career or occupation that can lead to a better life and a stronger family.
Kasich also touched on the benefits of extending Medicaid coverage to thousands of low-income residents will help the state on multiple levels.
The governor said rural and urban hospitals need the expansion because otherwise, federal dollars will be phased out.
He proposed Medicaid expansion under the federal law in his two-year budget plan.
He's framed the decision as recapturing Ohio taxpayers' federal money.
The state would see $2.4 billion from Washington to cover those newly eligible for Medicaid over the next two years beginning in July
Many Republicans are averse to President Barack Obama's signature health care law and resistant to expanding government programs.
Kasich said he knows the issue is controversial.
But he says he's asking lawmakers to examine the issue carefully and examine their conscience.
He says the most vulnerable shouldn't be ignored, but lifted.
Kasich wrapped up his speech by honoring a number of Ohioans with the Governor’s Courage Award.
Astronaut and Wapakoneta-native Neil Armstrong was honored posthumously.
His sons, Rick and Mark, accepted the award on behalf of their late father.
Sondra Williams, an autism activist, was honored for her work in autism awareness.
Finally, Kasich named the staff of Cleveland-area Chardon High School as honorees of the courage award, for their roles in keeping students safe during a school shooting that killed three and injured three more.
The one-year anniversary of the Chardon High School shooting is approaching at the end of this month on Feb. 27.