Kasich Comes Back To Ohio For Sixth State Of The State Speech

For most governors, the State of the State speech is one of the biggest events of the year. But arguably Gov. John Kasich has had bigger moments this year – most notably, winning the Ohio primary. However, it can be a big deal when a presidential candidate comes home, and it certainly was to Marietta, the site of this year’s State of the State address. This one in the People’s Bank Theatre in Marietta began with the usual ceremonial touches, but with some new twists.

Much of his speech was focused on education. And Kasich had some emotional moments when talking about drug addiction. Kasich talked about his “number one moral obligation” as governor – to encourage a jobs-friendly climate, which he says starts by helping people move up the economic ladder. He talked about police community relations, job training, college costs - and promoted the arts in education. Kasich’s State of the State speeches have been light on policies and proposals, but he did have one to offer; announcing he wants legislation to accelerate income tax cuts we passed last year. And he closed the formal speech with a call to change the way Ohio draws the lines for its 18 Congressional districts, which created what experts have called one of the most gerrymandered maps in the country. He followed that with what’s become a Kasich State of the State tradition – three awards presented to individuals, groups and others who’ve drawn his admiration and respect.

Not long after Kasich concluded his speech, Republican and Democratic leaders offered their responses. And though Republican Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina) and House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) have both endorsed Kasich’s presidential campaign, it was clear that the demand for Congressional redistricting changes was not well received by them. But one Republican who was pleased with Kasich’s redistricting comments is Secretary of State Jon Husted.

Faber was more intrigued by Kasich’s accelerated income tax cuts, though he issued no promises, and neither did Rep. Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell). But naturally, Democrats weren’t pleased with that part of the speech. They’d done a pre-buttal of sorts the day before the State of the State, focusing on their concerns about Kasich’s policies. House Minority Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) said after the speech in Marietta that he liked Kasich’s defense of Medicaid expansion and his promotion of mental health and drug treatment, and said he was shocked and happy with redistricting reform call, which he called “a bold statement”. But he certainly didn’t embrace all of the speech. Also reacting were Sen. Lou Gentile (D-Steubenville), Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) and Rep. Debbie Phillips (D-Athens).

The speech came a day after Kasich’s distant last place showing in the Republican primary in Wisconsin – wasn’t lost on many observers. But Rep. Andy Thompson (R-Marietta) said he felt it was the right speech at the right time.

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