Wednesday, March 7, 2018
By David Skolnick
Members of the Mahoning Valley’s state legislative delegation said they were disappointed Gov. John Kasich didn’t talk substantively about the issues facing Ohio in his final State of the State address.
“The first part you didn’t know if you were in philosophy class or church,” said state Sen. Sean O’Brien of Bazetta, D-32nd. “This was my eighth speech with him, and this was definitely the most unique. I was really expecting him to give us insight, and it was just a philosophical speech. I was expecting a lot more substance.”
Kasich, a Republican, spoke for about 55 minutes Tuesday during the address in Westerville, a Columbus suburb.
“Gov. Kasich’s speech [Tuesday] left a lot to be desired,” said state Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Boardman, D-33rd, and a gubernatorial candidate. “He spoke for about an hour, largely about philosophy, and barely glossed over some of the most pressing issues facing Ohio families. Our communities are hurting under massive funding cuts. Our children are struggling to manage endless state tests in underfunded schools. And our residents are dying from opioid overdoses at nearly triple the national rate, yet Gov. Kasich claimed to be proud of the progress we’ve made.”
“I did not see how this connected with Ohio,” said state Rep. John Boccieri of Poland, D-59th. “It was more of his introspective philosophy. I hoped that he would focus on the people we represent. Ohio ranks No. 1 in heroin and opioid deaths, 42nd in economic health, 7 out of 10 jobs created in Ohio are low-wage jobs, and we’re No. 1 in college debt. Those numbers are moving in the wrong direction. The Ohio I represent isn’t the same as the governor apparently.”
State Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan of Youngstown, D-58th, said: “We’re dealing with drug overdoses, budget cuts, college costs are skyrocketing, education issues and gun issues, and he ignored them. He’s not talking to the constituents in the 58th District. He’s not dealing with the important issues we need to address.”
She added that Kasich’s speech “was really introspective and didn’t have a direction. He didn’t announce any plans for the future. I was disappointed.”
“He was very reflective and gave us a look at his values,” said state Rep. Glenn Holmes of McDonald, D-63rd. “The speech was geared toward challenging your values. But he didn’t say anything of substance.”
State Rep. Michael O’Brien of Warren, D-64th, said: “I don’t know what to make of it. I was waiting for him to talk in detail about the state of Ohio, and he was more interested in talking about issues in the nation and giving a philosophical speech on taking care of your neighbors.”
O’Brien said he was “surprised” by Kasich’s speech, adding that it didn’t “put food on the table or gas in people’s cars or help them in any way. I thought he’d talk about accomplishments. Everyone in the audience was astonished and looked at each other in amazement. He never talked about how he found the state and how he’s leaving the state.”