Gov. John Kasich can be a pretty hard guy to figure out.
One minute, he talks about wanting to be sensitive to Ohioans who are concerned about new limits on public employee collective bargaining.
Thousands of them came to the Statehouse over the past two months to protest that legislation.
“The day we sign it ... I don’t anticipate some big deal because this is hard for people,” Kasich told reporters early last month, in advance of the passage of Senate Bill 5, which he signed into law this week. “And anything that’s hard, I want to be respectful of other people’s feelings, their thoughts and their emotions.”
But the next minute, he unapologetically defends sweeping collective bargaining reform as necessary to deal with today’s economic realities. And he says people who are against the bill may be misinformed about its contents.
“... They’ll settle down,” he said of people unnerved by SB 5 and other changes being implemented by his administration and Republican lawmakers. “... I said that from the beginning that this was going to be a time of big change and that there would be people that wouldn’t like it. I have to tell you, I’m extremely calm. I’m in a good mood. I stand strong, and we’re doing the right thing.”
On the one hand, he expresses sympathy to people who think his policies will ruin their lives.
“I think it’s a time of upheaval in America,” he said. “I really think that people want change but they’re not sure what it should look like.”
He added, “When you’re dealing with real change and when the headlines everyday are about change, it unsettles people.”
And, “Change is hard, it’s difficult for everyone. The people across this country get nervous about it.”
But on the other hand, the governor tells Ohioans to sit back and trust his judgment — and that the state will be better in the end because of it.
“My mission is longer term,” he said. “It’s to plant the seeds so that we can get the kind of growth and Ohio’s legacy will be able to be maintained ... All I do everyday is I say my prayers and I say, ‘Lord, keep me on the right track.’ Because if what we’re doing is going to improve the lives of families and children, that’s fantastic.”
Kasich has frequently said he is making decisions aimed at improving Ohio’s economic climate and positioning it for future growth.
And though some of those decisions may be unpopular, he’s going to make them anyway regardless of what they do to his re-election campaign. Politics, he says, aren’t part of his decision-making process.
But then he turns around and takes a few swipes at organized labor while at the same time asking for campaign contributions in advance of signing SB 5.
“Will you support our ongoing efforts to fight for Ohio taxpayers with a $20, $10 or even $5 contribution today and help us continue to return the balance of power,” according to an email from his campaign. “There is a reason that the union bosses opposed these changes; because it strips power from union leaders and returns it to the taxpayers and workers. But make no mistake; we are fighting to save Ohio and need your help.”