State of the State address focuses on education, jobs

Governor John Kasich speaks at the Ohio Newspaper Association conference, Friday, Feb. 6, 2014. Kasich gave his State of the State speech at Medina High School, Monday evening, Feb. 24, 2014, discussing how education early on can later lead to job growth.

Rebecca Reis

Last year Governor John Kasich’s State of the State speech focused heavily on what he called “Ohio’s Jobs Budget 2.0” which put emphasis on cutting the personal income tax and tax cuts for small businesses, bringing and keeping jobs in Ohio.

This year’s one-hour-and-six-minute speech at Medina High School Monday mentioned those same cuts (with some adjustments) and also focused on “carving the path” for young people into Ohio’s workforce, specifically in education. Kasich’s address routinely compared his plans for Ohio as climbing a mountain with the summit in sight.

The crowd held a standing ovation for Ohio House Speaker William Batchelder, whose hometown of Medina was selected by Kasich for the speech in part because Batchelder is facing his term limit at the end of this year. Batchelder and Kasich were proponents of Senate Bill 5 in 2011, the proposed bill to restrict collective bargaining rights for public employees that was voted down. Kasich announced the renaming of the Medina Ohio Highway Patrol post in his honor.

Ed FitzGerald, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, also visited Medina High School this weekend as part of his election campaign.


The highlight of Kasich’s talk on education was the announcement of a new initiative called Community Connectors, which aims to get the community involved in education, including bringing in parents, community organizations, faith-based groups and businesses to mentor students. Kasich said this program will be designed to combat the 24,000 Ohio students who drop out every year. Kasich is proposing that the state allocate $10 million from casino licensing fees to education, and the state will also give communities $3 for every $1 they put in.

“We can show them why learning matters, we can teach them about workplace culture and professional etiquette,” Kasich said. “We can help them appreciate how important values are to success in life, values like hard work, discipline and personal responsibility — all of which can help motivate and inspire them to find their purpose and to reach for the stars.”

Kasich also wants to fight drop-out rates by giving youth more vocational school options. One of his plans is to start vocational school options beginning in the 7th grade for all schools in Ohio. He also announced new “online career roadmaps” where children and their parents can explore career choices and find direction “right on their phones. And that’s what they love.”

Kasich lauded Cleveland’s school reforms, saying, “It’s a new day and a new way for our children in the City of Cleveland.” He also mentioned working with Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman on education reforms in the future.


Continuing his plans for education, Kasich said he wants veterans to receive free college credits for their military training.


JobsOhio was frequently mentioned as creating the environment needed to attract more businesses, specifically referencing the Nestle USA company’s move from Chicago to Solon, creating 250 jobs. Kasich also cited Chief Executive Magazine’s “2013 Best & Worst States for Business” as calling Ohio “the most improved business climate in the nation.” The article, published May 6, 2013, surveyed 736 CEOs who ranked Ohio at No. 22, up from it’s rank of 35 in 2012. This was indeed the most dramatic increase in rank in the magazine.

Kasich briefly mentioned his support of minority-controlled businesses, saying “Too often we’ve seen the state simply ignore its obligations to treat our neighbors as ourselves. That’s not acceptable. Our administration is working hard so that we can give people the solid chance they deserve. It’s not easy and it won’t happen overnight, but it’s the right thing to do.” In 2013, 10.1 percent of state contracts went to minority-owned businesses, considered a move in the right direction by Kasich, even though Ohio’s goal is 15 percent.

Health Care

One of Kasich’s early remarks about health care included making breast cancer and cervical cancer screenings more available to low-income women, contrasting with last year’s Ohio budget decision to defund Planned Parenthood which provided more than 7,000 breast exams and 700 diagnoses and treatments of precancerous cervical conditions in Ohio in 2013, according to the organization’s media kit.

Kasich also mentioned giving more aid to the mentally ill, but didn’t directly bring up Medicaid. Much of Kasich’s 2013 address was about expanding Medicaid.


The recently launched Start Talking campaign to prevent drug addiction was mentioned by Kasich as an important way to fight substance abuse among children. Kasich said the program has spread the message about drug use to more than 9,000 students and that talking to children about drugs makes them 50 percent less likely to start using them. Kasich also announced that Ohio will begin to use tobacco settlement funds for tobacco cessation efforts.

Income Tax

Last year, Kasich vowed to cut the personal income tax by 20 percent across all tax brackets over the next three years. This year, he is proposing another round of tax cuts to get the income tax rate below 5 percent, saying that since 1995, 12 billion people have gone from Ohio to states with lower income taxes (specifically calling out Naples, Fla.).

Ohio Courage Medals

Kasich awarded the 2014 Ohio Courage medals to Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, the kidnapping victims of Cleveland man Ariel Castro. The loudest applause of the night continued even after the women exited the stage.

“Last year the world heard a story that words could barely describe. It is the story of hurt beyond anything we could ever imagine…” Kasich said. “It is also the story of three  women who found an inner strength and courage… who, despite having the worst of the world thrown at them, rose above it and rose as victors, not as victims.”

Kasich closed the speech by continuing the path up the mountain metaphor.

“It’s going to take you, and me, and our neighbors, and our neighbor’s neighbors all deciding to pitch in and carve the path if we’re going to reach that summit,” Kasich said.

“We’re not done. We’re not done by a mile. But we’re getting there. I hope you’ll stay with me on the path as we go higher.”

Contact Rebecca Reis at [email protected].