Gov. Kasich to share vision with Ohioans


Associated Press

COLUMBUS

After just eight weeks in office, Republican Gov. John Kasich already has begun to shake things up throughout Ohio government.

Economic-development efforts have been privatized, the bargaining rights of public-sector unions have been targeted, and state regulators have been instructed to back off small businesses for the sake of the economy.

How it all fits into the new governor’s vision for bringing back Ohio’s economy and closing an $8 billion budget gap will become clear over the next two weeks.

The process begins Tuesday, when Kasich delivers his first State of the State speech to a joint session of the state Legislature.

In his usual down-to-earth manner, and without a teleprompter, Kasich likely will lay out political principles and steer clear of focusing on most of the painful details of the dramatically reduced two-year state operating budget he’s said he will unveil seven days later.

Tuesday’s speech could shed more light on the direction Kasich will move on other privatization efforts he’s exploring to balance his budget. Those include selling or leasing the Ohio Turnpike and returning, by his estimate, $2.5 billion to state infrastructure programs. It could include liquor sales, which Kasich says could net $1 billion for the state, or farming out more prison operations to private operators such as one where his new prisons director recently did work.

Kasich also could be looking to take some public university expenses off the state’s books through a charter concept supported by his new chancellor, Jim Petro. The governor also is an advocate of expanded school choice options.

More favored subjects for the speech could be Kasich’s plans in the areas of education and health.

State lawmakers already are on their way to dismantling key elements of a sweeping school-funding reform package — dubbed the Evidence Based Model — that Strickland championed.

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