Gov. John Kasich made a little news with his State of the State speech in Sandusky last night.
CLICK HERE for a complete text of Gov. John Kasich's speech.
Facing a huge and deadly opioid crisis that’s killing an average of eight people a day in Ohio, Kasich proposed some new money toward the battle from a fund dedicated to high tech.
“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,” Kasich says.
Kasich also defended a proposed 17 percent income tax cut in his budget, which would be paid for with an increase in the sales tax and higher taxes on cigarettes, alcohol and oil and natural gas drilling. Republican lawmakers haven’t liked that last item, and also seemed cool to his praise for Medicaid expansion.
Some lawmakers aren’t fond of the proposed increase in sales tax, and some don't agree with Kasich’s proposed investment to battle the opioid crisis.
It has piqued the interest of Republican House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger. “I’m eager to learn a little more about it,” Rosenberger says.
But Democratic House Minority Leader Fred Strahorn rejects Kasich’s plan, saying those dollars should be spent on treatment, local communities and schools.
“Fund the things that you know work instead of spending time and resources that may or may not produce something,” Strahorn says.
Ohio leads the nation in the number of opioid deaths with more than 3,000 in a single year.
High-tech on other fronts
Aside from discussing the opioid crisis and tax increases, Kasich highlighted the growth of technological innovations and jobs in Ohio.
IBM Watson, an international technology-based company, purchased Explorys in 2015. Instead of moving it out of Ohio to operate in different areas, IBM plans to keep the startup in Ohio, leaving room for investments and jobs.
Kasich also mentioned recent commitments from online retailer Amazon to help boost the economy, as well as investments made by Japanese automakers. For a potential growth industry for Ohio, he pushed for more research into driverless vehicle technology.