Previewing Gov. John Kasich's State of the State Speech

Gov. John Kasich campaigns in Cleveland in Dec. 2013 for the expansion of Medicaid. (file photo by Nick Castele)
Gov. John Kasich campaigns in Cleveland in Dec. 2013 for the expansion of Medicaid. (file photo by Nick Castele)
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Kasich has been asked about what might be in his State of the State speech for weeks. At an Associated Press event in January, Kasich admitted he didn’t know what he’d say. But he did say that it was likely that he might preview some things that he’s working on for his budget update -- the mid-biennium review or MBR.

“Taxes, economic development, education, job training," Kasich said. "I mean, there’s so many things yet to do. Maybe some initiatives that are around poverty.”

For at least the last few weeks, Kasich has been talking about how Ohio has added 175,000 private sector jobs since he took office and how the state has a billion and a half dollars in its rainy-day savings account compared to the 89 cents in it in 2010.

And he’ll also likely mention efforts to combat drug addiction and could touch on human trafficking, two causes he’s very concerned about.

But Kasich said he couldn’t be more specific about the content of the speech, because he wouldn’t write it until a few days beforehand. But he’s likely thought about it for months. Jon Allison was chief of staff for two-term Republican Gov. Bob Taft, and says the State of the State address in the year the governor is running for re-election is a different kind of speech.

“You certainly want to do a victory lap and make the case for your successes during the first part of your term," Allison said. "But you also want to try to set the narrative for your priorities with the legislature and kind of set the general narrative for the re-election campaign. It’s a big speech.”

And while both the Republican majority and the Democratic minority will have official response press conferences, Kasich’s likely Democratic opponent will also have a few reactions. In fact, he’s already shared a few thoughts. Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald spoke with reporters Friday, just before launching his “Real State of the State” tour across Ohio this weekend. He stopped in Cleveland, Medina, Columbus and other cities, while running mate Sharen Neuhardt campaigned in Youngstown, Toledo, Lima and elsewhere.

Tonight, he’ll be watching Kasich’s speech from in his hometown of Lakewood, 25 miles from the Medina Performing Arts Center.

“We have a different view of how Ohio is doing and what the priorities of the state should be," FitzGerald told reporters.

One example, FitzGerald says, are the two bills Kasich signed Friday, which shorten the early voting period and allow only the Secretary of State to send out unsolicited absentee ballot applications if the legislature sets aside the money

“To me it’s another example of misplaced priorities," FitzGerald said. "There’s over 400,000 people out of work in Ohio. We’re 45th in the country in job creation recently. That’s what the focus should be on.”

FitzGerald’s State of the County address was a week ago. Last year, he and Kasich delivered their big annual speeches on the same day. Kasich says of tonight’s speech, "Hopefully it will not a real long talk."

Last year’s speech in Lima was his shortest State of the State, at 62 minutes. His longest was his first road State of the State in 2012 in Steubenville, he talked for nearly 83 minutes.

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