By Marc Kovac
First of a four-part series
Eighty-three thousand jobs.
That’s what Gov. John Kasich is crediting his administration with either saving or creating since he took office in January.
In a speech to reporters that echoed comments he has made in recent months before other groups, the governor touted the jobs numbers, November’s drop in unemployment and the agency reforms implemented by his administration over the past 12 months.
“I don’t think anybody’s seen anything like it,” Kasich said. “I’m not sure that we’re ever going to see anything like it in the future, because it is really amazing.”
Kasich and members of his cabinet spent about an hour and a half of a two-hour media session at the governor’s residence talking about their accomplishments and briefly touching on plans for the new year.
“Remember that we had lost 400,000 jobs over the last four years, 600,000 jobs over the last 10 years. Only Michigan and California have done worse than Ohio. ... I think we were on death’s doorstep. The loss of all these jobs, the rise of poverty in the state. Our population growth was anemic. We lost two congressmen. Our credit rating was heading south. ... One-third of our young people were leaving the state after they graduated from college after three years, still a challenge that we have. They were leaving because the opportunity wasn’t in Ohio.
“We were in very bad shape. And then I come into office and I inherit this $8 billion deficit. Now there is not one member of the press that thought that that $8 billion budget deficit could be eliminated without a tax increase or without devastating poor people. There was not one person in the state that thought that. ... Political considerations or an unwillingness to face the music had put Ohio in this deep, deep hole.
“We’ve now stabilized the patient in this state, and the way I like to talk about it is that we now have eliminated the credibility problem that we had in this state. Our credit rating improved.
“We are now eighth in the nation in job creation... and we are No. 1 in the Midwest.
“[Unemployment] went from 9 percent to 8.5 percent. These numbers will move around. I’m not going to tell you this has all happened because we’re here. But I’ve got to tell you, if the numbers went up, you’d be whacking me, so why don’t we take a little bit of credit for the fact that this is the single, biggest drop in the unemployment numbers in 28 years.
“Why is this happening? It’s happening because of certainty. ... When there is uncertainty in an environment, businesses will run for the hills. And when businesses feel a sense of certainty and comfort, that’s when they’re willing to make investments. ... Stability. Certainty. We’re not going to turn around and raise their taxes or beat them over the head or over-regulate them. We just aren’t going to do that, and they know it.”
On His ‘Bus’ Comment
“Lobbyists get paid to come and protect sometimes their narrow special interests. This was a message to people — frankly, if this was explained to the public, they’d agree. They don’t have a lobbyist. They’re just out there on their own. ... What I was saying to people who represent special interests [is], ‘We’re all Ohioans, and we expect you to cooperate with us as Ohioans and not represent a narrow special interest.’ That’s what it was meant to say. ... [But] sometimes what you feel in your heart is not something that should come out of your mouth. But that’s what that was about, and frankly, lobbyists ... should not be calling the tune. And they’re not. The Legislature’s been fantastic. This administration’s been fantastic, and we’ve set a tone now of do the right thing.”