MARIETTA — Gov. John R. Kasich presented his State of the State address in Marietta on Wednesday, April 6. What follows is the third portion of the transcript provided for his presentation, for those readers who didn’t have a chance to view the speech. This third section discusses jobs, taxes and more in Ohio.
“Our economic growth is increasing both the number of jobs available as well as the types of jobs available. If you ask people about Ohio, many times they’ll say, well, it’s the football team or agriculture or steel. It’s always been our goal to bring about a significant broadening of the base of Ohio business, and we see that in the positions that have been created by some of Ohio’s newest employers.
“Think about this. Amazon. Three investments in the state, including in Wilmington. Amazon, picking us in the Midwest to carry the ball for them. How about the automotive glassmaker Fuyao?
“Talk about losing jobs? The Chinese have hired now over a thousand Ohioans with perhaps another thousand to be hired by this Chinese investment. And biotech companies such as Assurex Health and Enable Injections.
“As I announced earlier, part of creating this job friendly economic, we’ve cut taxes by five million, a billion more than any other state in the country. But there’s more that I want to do.
“And I will send you the General Assembly legislation to let Ohioans to keep more of their hard-earned money by accelerating the benefits of income tax cuts we passed last year. There’s no reason to wait. The money’s there. Let’s just move it up.
“And I say to my friends, the Democrats, we’ve already passed it. Just move it up, so the people have more money in their pocket. It’s not complicated. I’m not asking you to buy into the philosophy on this. But we can do it together. There’s no reason to wait. We can apply the benefits of these tax cuts to Ohio’s families right now. I do appreciate the Legislature’s Tax Study Committee, and I look forward to seeing their recommendations that will come down the road.
“But we are going to come with another comprehensive tax reform package early next year with more tax relief and reforms to better align our tax code with the way Ohio works in today’s economy. And that fundamentally means lower income taxes.
“You know, while we have worked to create economic growth by cutting taxes and restraining the growth of state government, we haven’t left other areas of focus behind. For example, I am a firm believer that economic growth and protection of our natural resources can go hand-in-hand.
“We continue to invest significant money into our state parks, and we have spent more than three and a half billion dollars in order to improve water quality from Lake Erie to the Ohio River. Three and a half billion dollars.
‘The quality, the well-being, and beauty of our natural environment are an essential part of a jobs-friendly business environment we want to maintain and grow. Of course, it’s also central to the success of our $40 billion travel and tourism industry, and all the local businesses that depend on tourism.
“It’s such a very important part of the local economy here in Marietta. Isn’t it, Governor Hollister? It’s a very, very big part. In fact, we’ve just launched an impressive new marketing campaign designed to strengthen Ohio’s brand as an attractive and exciting destination. And as Ohio continues to benefit from the growing shale opportunities, we’ll need to keep pace with the industry’s continuous innovation by proposing updates that support its continued success and ensure that we remain one of the nation’s leaders in protecting public health and safety as well as the environment.
“You know, I spoke a few minutes ago about the epidemic of drug addiction, particularly prescription drug abuse that has inflicted Ohio at every level of society. Fighting this battle takes everything we’ve got and attacking it from every angle and that comprehensive approach is the best part of Ohio’s strategy. A big part of that strategy is the medical community. And with the help of doctors, we’ve tightened up prescribing guidelines to make sure that people can get the pain relief they need but not more than what they need.
“The number of prescriptions for pain medicine has gone down 12 percent over the past four years. And with tighter controls, doctor shopping by patients has fallen dramatically by 70 percent in the past five years.
“We know that Ohio’s pharmacies are key players. And not just pharmacists, but also the thousands of pharmacy technicians who work side by side with them. Right now, however, we have no uniform standards or registration requirements for them. We need to join other states who register pharmacy technicians to ensure that they receive the ongoing training and education that can help identify and prevent opiate abuse and which also allows Ohio to track and discipline bad actors.
At the same time, we need to limit dispensing of painkiller prescriptions to 90 days and invalidate any prescription that hasn’t been brought to the pharmacy within 30 days of issue. And we must also put increased scrutiny on new drug treatment clinics and ensure that they’re using best practices to treat people and not perpetuating their addiction.
These and other proposals will bring to you. The spring will provide additional tools that Ohioans can use to improve the places where they live. But these, like the other tools we’ve provided, are only valuable if they’re put to work. As I said earlier, the spirit of our state is in our communities. The more that each of us has a chance to contribute to crafting our state’s future, the stronger that future will be because it benefits from the talents that we all bring to the table.
Making sure we all have a chance to contribute and that we all have a voice is why we came together last year across party lines to reform the way Ohio’s legislative districts are drawn. Our goal was the right one: To make the process less about politics and more about inclusion. We need to go further, however, which is why I’m calling on the General to look at how we make these same kinds of reforms to the way Ohio draws its congressional districts.
“Ideas and merits should be what wins elections, not gerrymandering. When pure politics is what drives these kinds of decisions, the result is polarization and division. I think we’ve had enough of that. Gerrymandering needs to be on the dust bin of history. 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.
“Those gifts are all unique and varied, and together they form the mosaic that makes our state and our country so resilient.
“I’ve had the opportunity as I’ve traveled the country by the grace of God to be able to look people in the eye and remind them that they’re made special. All of us, unique. All of us, created for a purpose, to literally live a life bigger than ourselves, and to make a commitment to lift, to heal the world.
“That’s what’s expected of us, I believe, when we were created. No one has ever been made like us before, and no one will ever be like us again — we’re here at a unique moment of time. And we find satisfaction in life. And we ignore some of the silliness, the fighting, the divisions, the ego, the turf protection. Because when we do our job, when we’re a teacher and give up a salary because we’re changing a young life, we’re changing the world.
“When we’re a physician and we make that call at 1 o’clock in the morning, we’re changing the world. When we’re a nurse and when it’s time for us to stop we’ve filled our role in the job, but yet we spend 20 more minutes to reassure a family that things are going to be okay. And up in Westerville the other day, I saw a custodian. I said, ―You’re special.
“You know how I know that?‖ He said, ―Yeah, I know how you know it. Because you know those kids will tell me things that they will never tell anybody else. And I’ll take care of them.‖
“And even taking that widow that I like to talk about who’s been married for 50 years, lost her husband and her phone doesn’t ring anymore. You call her on Monday and say, ―we’re going to dinner this weekend.‖ You know what she does on Thursday? She gets her hair done. And by Saturday, it’s still all in place. And when you pick her up, she wears that dress she hasn’t worn in six months.
“Did you change the world? I think you did. I’ve always been so inspired by people who understand this, and they live lives bigger than almost all of us. That’s how I got this whole idea of the Governor’s Courage Award, to recognize those Ohioans and hold them up as models from which we can all learn.
“One such person is Margo Hudson. A long time Cleveland resident who grew up on the south side of Chicago. She had it tough. No stranger to the hard knocks of life. Without a high school diploma, think about it. She struggled for years from job to job that didn’t pay much of anything. But well into adulthood, she was inspired to go after her high school equivalency. It took her 11 tries, but she stayed at it. She didn’t get discouraged. And she finally prevailed.
“Now with her GED certificate, Margo, believe it or not, is an active tutor and a mentor for young Clevelanders who are also seeking a second chance to earn their diplomas. She’s an enthusiast champion for the power of adult learning. Margo has been honored by the Commission on Adult Basic Education as 2016 National Adult Learner of the Year. Her courage in the face of so many challenges is inspiring, and I’m proud to present her the Governor’s Courage Award this year.
“Wallace Peck of Columbus is an exceptionally talented artist who has overcome significant developmental disabilities. Significant developmental disabilities and personal challenges, including homelessness, health problems, and an upbringing with little support or very little education.
Through all this, and with the support of some equally remarkable friends and volunteers, Wallace has become one of Ohio’s most honored and self-taught artists. Wallace’s paintings are primarily of people, especially those he knows, but also includes wildlife and nature. He uses bold colors in a style all his own to express the joy he feels in this world.
“My wife stuck all of your work in the governor’s residence, so you know. His most recent exhibit sold out in a single night. It’s a testament to the acclaim that has increasingly drawn the attention of museums and art festivals. In fact, the Columbus Museum of Art purchased one of Wallace’s paintings for its permanent collection.
“For his life of courage, perseverance and positive outlook, after so many years living in the shadows of society, I’m proud to award Wallace the Governor’s Courage Award, accompanied by the First Lady. Pretty clear, isn’t it, the Lord has made everyone special, for special reasons.”