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Kasich discusses economy, technology, opioids in State of State in Sandusky

By Jim Provance • Apr 5, 2017 at 12:20 AM

SANDUSKY — Ohio must dare to take risks, whether it's fostering driverless vehicle and drone technology or making tough decisions on taxes, Gov. John Kasich said today as he took his annual assessment of the state's health to windy Sandusky Bay.

On his way from Columbus, Mr. Kasich made a detour to check out Cedar Point's roller coasters.

“I don't know if it can go any faster or higher, but the machines only work when all the parts work together,” the Republican governor told lawmakers, cabinet officials, and others in the historic Sandusky State Theatre.

“Ohio is the same way,” he said “We can reach great heights, historic heights, but only if all of our state’s pieces are working the right way together. State government is just one of those pieces and its role isn’t to control or dictate, but to serve.”

This marks the sixth of Mr. Kasich's seven annual State of the State addresses that he has taken on the road.

After holding the first in the traditional Statehouse, the governor has talked to lawmakers and cabinet officials in schools in Steubenville and Medina, convention centers in Lima and Wilmington, and, like Sandusky, a theater in Marietta.

“We were at the center of the industrial revolution because so many people dove head first into new ideas...about what to make and how to make it, and they accepted no limits on how they could go,” Mr. Kasich said. “That was all about risk-taking.

“And we don’t need to go any further than just down the road -- I just saw that Thomas Edison Freeway —Milan, perfect example of what I’m talking about,” he said. “Thomas Edison wasn’t just a brilliant and creative innovator, he was a risk taker.”

The state transportation budget just signed by the governor includes additional investments in smart-highway technology for autonomous vehicle research and authorizes support for drone research.

“Folks, (change) is coming,” Mr. Kasich said. “Make no mistake. This change will affect not just blue-collar jobs. Insurance adjusters, stockbrokers—they may be impacted by artificial intelligence.

“Who knows maybe even the General Assembly will be replaced by robots...,” he said. “And maybe governors as well.”

He argued that government can't be the cure-all for social ills such as addiction and infant mortality while saying the state can play a role.

He announced an investment by Third Frontier, a state entity that invests in technology and research. It will be used to study devices and other technology to provide an alternative to drugs for pain and fight withdrawal symptoms, an effort to deal with the state's opiate and heroin addiction epidemic.

The governor again used his speech to promote his proposals in his last two-year budget proposal. Despite the fact that the General Assembly is controlled by fellow Republicans, he faces push-back again on his tax reform plan to raise sales, cigarette, and alcohol taxes and expand the sales tax to more professional services to underwrite another income tax cut and a school funding proposal that could lead to cuts to about two-thirds of districts.

“Many ask why I feel so strongly about reducing the income tax and reforming the tax code in light of the challenging budget circumstances we face,” Mr. Kasich said. “It’s simple, without continued progress toward eliminating our income tax, Ohio will never be as competitive as we need to be.

“States with low or no income taxes have the strongest growth, because taxes and regulations matter to job creators,” he said.

In line with his arguments that social service programs should help to lift people out of the circumstances that make them eligible for help, Mr. Kasich gave one of his State of the State “Courage Awards” to Dan Rogers, president and chief executive officer of Cherry Street Mission Ministries in Toledo.

Cherry Street's Life Revitalization Center provides food and shelter to those who need it and also job-training to help them get better jobs to provide for themselves. A recent $500,000 donation from Owens Corning will expand that to include basic carpentry training.

“If you are in Toledo and Lucas County and run out of hope, he brings them in,” Mr. Kasich said.

* * *

Ohio lawmakers descend on Sandusky for address

SANDUSKY — Gov. John Kasich updated Ohio's lawmakers on the State of the State tonight here on Lake Erie, his sixth time taking the annual speech out of the state capital.

Some of the governor's top administrators spent the day in the city attending dozens of local events or attending a big luncheon at Cedar Point amusement park.

The speech began at 7 p.m. in the Sandusky State Theatre close to the city's historic waterfront. The theatre's block of Columbus Avenue is blocked off.

WGTE, Toledo's PBS station, will air the speech in its entirety at 11 p.m. It is broadcast on Channel 30 and appears on Channel 199 on Buckeye Broadband.

At the Sandusky Yacht Club, the state directors of taxation, natural resources and the Ohio Development Services Agency participated in a roundtable discussion about Lake Erie tourism, an $8 billion industry for the eight Ohio counties that border the lake.

Taxation Commissioner Joe Testa said tourism-related income taxes have gone up 19 percent in the last four years, generating $1 billion in the most recent year just for the state.

"Relative to different industries travel and tourism is a significant one," Mr. Testa said.

State Sen. Randy Gardner (R., Bowling Green) said the luncheon attended by about 350 people on the grounds of the closed Cedar Point amusement park was an eye-opener for some legislators.

"Some of them have not even seen this before," Mr. Gardner said. "There was one legislator that had not seen the lake before. He's coming back this summer."

Eric Wobser, city manager of Sandusky, said the city spruced up streets and parks to be the state capital for a day.

"We had company coming and we had to make sure the house was in order," Mr. Wobser said.

Among the officials visiting was former state Rep. Barbara Sears (R., Monclova Township), now the director of Medicaid for Ohio. She met with Jobs and Family Services employees and other local service providers from Erie and Ottawa counties.

Ms. Sears said the Medicaid expansion that Gov. Kasich implemented has contributed to a healthier population, helping them get and keep jobs.

"Of the 700,000 who came on Medicaid (under Obamacare) about 500,000 have touched behavioral and mental health services," she said, indicating a need that was there that was not being met. Ms. Sears also said that 89 percent of those people did not previously have insurance coverage.


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