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The Year in Review: Gov. Kasich looks at 2013
Kasich talks about JobsOhio, veterans' mental health and Lake Erie

Andy Chow
In The Region:
It was a year full of activity for Gov. John Kasich, from passing an aggressive budget plan to expanding Medicaid. Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow reports on the governor's point of view on his third year in office.
The Year in Review: Gov. Kasich looks at 2013

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Once again, Gov. John Kasich broke from tradition and decided to take a different approach to deliver his annual year-in-review report. In the past, governors have held one-on-one interviews to reflect on the year’s top issues and discuss their goals for the future.

After Kasich took office he first hosted a town-hall style press conference, joined by his cabinet members. The next year was a similar event but his cabinet members were swapped with the House speaker and Senate president. This year, Gov. Kasich summarized the year in an address to the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, then answered a handful of questions following his speech.

Kasich touched on many different issues but mainly focused on revitalizing Ohio’s economy by changing the business climate. As the governor explained, this change came about through steps like the creating JobsOhio, tax cuts, and the Common Sense Initiative to streamline business regulations run by Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor.

“It’s part of what we need in the toolbox to get people to understand this.  It says to CEOs, ‘wow, how did Ohio balance its budget and, by the way, generate a $1.4 billion surplus in less than three years? And you’re cutting taxes? And you got Mary Taylor changing regulations?’ That’s why people around the country are beginning to say that Ohio is working.”

A state makeover
But the governor believes the state can do more to make itself attractive to businesses around the country. That’s why Kasich says they’re working with retail mogul Les Wexner to create a powerful marketing plan for Ohio, although he didn’t provide any details on the arrangement, including the cost. Add that plan to more tax cuts and Kasich says the state will continue to improve, but he urges that he needs support from the chamber of commerce.

“I would encourage you—as members of the chamber—to always be for tax cuts. I haven’t always seen that over the last few years. $17 billion walked out of this state since 1995, where does it go? Anybody want to guess? Florida, Nevada, Texas, Tennessee, guess what all of them have in common. No income tax.”

The governor touched on many other elements that, in his opinion, are moving Ohio in the right direction. That includes protecting Lake Erie, reforming nursing homes, and taking care of veterans when they come home.

Kasich put a spotlight on mental health and drug addiction issues and says he wants to continue to improve the way people with these ailments are treated.

“What we have done with the mentally ill in this country is a disgrace. We took them out of the institutions and where do we see them? They’re in our prisons. So now we’re going to have the resources we need—we’re going to have the resources we need to begin to deal with the problems of mental illness in our communities.”

Public assistance programs also came up during the governor’s speech.

“You remember I’ve said it is a sin not to help people who need help. But my mother told me this and frankly it’s biblical as well—it’s also a sin to continue to help people who need to learn how to help themselves.”

To Kasich, this means the state needs to find a better connection among health, education, training, and social services. He says there are too many archaic systems that need to be revised.

“In other words if you have someone who’s on a benefit program and they can get a job but yet they can’t get a job that pays anything more than what they’re getting [then] it doesn’t work real well, does it? So we need to figure out a way to incentivize people back to work.”

The governor says the added benefit to getting parents back to work is that they set a good example for their children.

Kasich told the Chamber he has an ambitious agenda going forward into 2014, when he’ll be on the ballot for re-election, and he called on chamber members for help. When he ran the first time in 2010, the chamber broke years of traditional practice and endorsed his candidacy.
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