Gov. John Kasich rolled into Akron on Tuesday touting his accomplishments during his short time in office: $8 billion budget gap plugged. Criminal sentencing reformed. Medicaid reformed. JobsOhio created.
“At the end of the day, it’s nine months,” he chuckled at the end of a speech for the Akron Roundtable at Quaker Station downtown. “It seems like nine years, doesn’t it, to most of you?”
In the wide-ranging talk before about 500 political, community and business leaders, the Republican governor used his hour-long speech and question-and-answer session to highlight his administration.
The goal is to reduce the cost of doing business in Ohio in order to keep and lure jobs to the state, he said. He cited efforts to keep ATM-maker Diebold Inc. and American Greetings in Ohio, and to lure the corporate offices of Wendy’s and Omnicare Inc. offices back from out of state.
“Isn’t it time that we have companies coming into Ohio instead of people taking our companies out of this state?” Kasich said. “We’re having results. We’re having victories.”
One issue still up in the air involves Senate Bill 5, a controversial effort that would make significant changes to Ohio law governing public workers. Opponents were successful in getting the issue on the November ballot and voters will decide whether to endorse or reject it, now known as Issue 2.
Kasich called it a matter of “taxpayer fairness” and said that public employees need to pay their fair share toward their health care and guaranteed pensions. He urged voters to read the bill and not be misled into thinking that the issue is an attack on blue-collar workers.
Private sector workers would love to pay a nominal amount or nothing toward their health care and receive a guaranteed pension, he said.
“Everyone should join in and sacrifice,” the governor said. “That’s how you build a happier family. And a more solid community. And a more solid state.”
He also touched on political partisanship.
Kasich cited his decision to appoint former Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner to the Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission.
He admitted during his speech that the decision likely didn’t go over well with Summit County Republican Party Chairman Alex Arshinkoff, who was booted off the county Board of Elections by Brunner in 2008.
“We need to work together to fix the problems in this state,” Kasich said. “No more politics. I don’t care if you’re Republican or Democrat. If you worked for Taft or Voinovich or whoever. I don’t care because Ohio is dying and we need to get it healed.”
During the question-and-answer session — when questions were written down from the audience and read to the governor — Kasich declined to say whom he would support for the Republican nomination for president.
When the question was read, Kasich responded: “Find another one,” drawing laughter from the audience.
State Rep. Lynn Slaby, R-Akron, called the governor’s speech inspirational.
“Whenever I hear him speak, I get pumped up even more,” he said.
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or email@example.com.