Kasich’s State of the State speech filled with optimistic generalities


On the side

J.D. Vance, author of the best-selling book “Hillbilly Elegy,” will be the keynote speaker at the Mahoning County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner on April 27. The New York Times called Vance’s book one of the “six books to help understand [Donald] Trump’s win” in the presidential election.

The dinner will be at The Georgetown, 5945 South Ave. in Boardman with a sponsor’s reception at 5:30 p.m., doors opening at 6 p.m. and the dinner starting at 6:30 p.m. The dinner is $40 per person or $75 per couple. To make a reservation, mail checks to the Mahoning County Republican Party, P.O. Box 9012, Youngstown, Ohio 44513.

The Mineral Ridge High School History Club will sponsor a candidates forum for the four Democrats running in the May 2 primary for Niles Municipal Court judge at 7 p.m. Thursday at the high school auditorium. Each candidate will give opening and closing statements and answer the same eight questions asked by a moderator.

Gov. John Kasich’s State of the State address looked to the past and the future, but didn’t offer much in the way of solutions to the problems facing Ohio.

Kasich, a Republican, delivered his 70-minute speech Tuesday at a theater in Sandusky. Like he’s done in previous years, he read the address very fast. I can’t imagine how long it would have lasted if he read it at a normal pace.

He closed out his speech with these words after a visit earlier that day to Sandusky’s Cedar Point.

“It’s the thrill of Sandusky’s famous rollercoasters. It’s going faster and higher; I don’t know how you could go any faster or higher, but the machines only work when all the parts work together. Ohio’s the same way. We can reach great heights, historic heights, but only if all of our state’s pieces are working the right way. State government is just one of those pieces, and its role isn’t to control or dictate but to serve. The state of our state remains strong. The state of our state remains stable, but holding on to the progress we’ve made takes continued vigilance. Challenges await and only by holding the line on conservative budgeting, fostering job creation and re-committing ourselves to helping each other along our journey will we succeed in the coming years.”

They are inspirational words.

But a day later, Tim Keen, Kasich’s budget director, said the state’s finances are even worse than anticipated – and they weren’t good to begin with.

Among the biggest problems was a nearly $450 million projected shortfall for this fiscal year that ends in June in state income-tax collections – the same income tax that Kasich wants to lower again.

During the State of the State, Kasich said: “A lot of you ask, ‘OK, Kasich, you know, we never get thanked when we reduce the income tax. Now you want to reform the tax code and you want to have some go up and the income tax go down. Why?’ Well, I’ll tell you why. You look at the states across this country that have the fastest economic growth. They either have no income tax or very low income taxes. It matters.”

I’m all for lowering taxes, but the problem is Kasich wants to increase the state’s sales tax to offset a cut in income taxes, something that will benefit the wealthy a lot more than the middle class.

Kasich also spoke of bipartisanship.

“We’ve seen an extreme division in our political system. I will tell you that I think work has been done in our state to minimize that. I believe it. These are fine people. The leadership – fine people. Of course, the Democrats get upset. When I hear from them, I go to Republicans and say, ‘Treat them right.’ We’re trying as best we can to pull together. But, you know, across this country, there’s rising polarization and inability for the political parties to work together.”

Remember that Kasich helped gerrymander districts that led to tremendous advantages for Republicans to control Ohio. Ohio is a Republican state, but Republicans, including Kasich, shouldn’t be talking about bipartisanship when they don’t really mean it.

State Rep. John Boccieri of Poland, D-59th, said, “We’ve been hearing about [bipartisanship] for a long time. But in practice, we just haven’t seen it.”

Democrats are such a minority in the General Assembly that Republicans don’t need them to get anything accomplished so there’s little reason to work with Democrats.

Kasich is actually talking more about Republicans: those who support President Donald Trump, a fellow Republican, and those who don’t.

During his failed presidential campaign last year, Kasich spoke of bringing the nation together and portrayed himself as the opposite of Trump.

Kasich has a new book coming out, “Two Paths,” that will likely address that issue while treading lightly on direct criticism of Trump.

Kasich said a couple of times during his address that he’s “not running” for another political office. Of course he said the same thing a few months before he announced he’d run for president.

But after getting crushed by Trump last year and then having his state Republican Party chairman ousted by a challenger backed by the president in January, Kasich faces the realization that he’s not what the country wants in a president.

As they have in previous years, Republicans will publicly praise Kasich, but will likely ignore most of his initiatives including raising the sales tax, adding three nonvoting business people to each local school board, and increasing the oil and gas tax.

Kasich spoke Tuesday of a future that he compared to the old TV cartoon show “The Jetsons.”

While it was meant to draw laughs – and did – Kasich discussed things such as “fully autonomous” vehicles and drones “delivering our groceries and maybe even a hot, fresh pizza right to our doorsteps.”

He’s creating a state chief innovative officer to encourage “advanced materials, the latest in biotechnology, aerospace, robotics, sensor and other areas that we haven’t even thought about.”

It’s forward thinking for a governor whose term ends in early January 2019.

Don't Miss a Story

Sign up for our newsletter to receive daily news directly in your inbox.