SANDUSKY, Ohio (AP) — The text of Gov. John Kasich's state of the state address as prepared on Tuesday.
GOVERNOR KASICH: Thank you, Mr. President . Mr. Speaker . and thanks to all the members of the General Assembly for bringing this joint legislative session to Sandusky and the shores of Ohio's great lake.
For the people of a city that's about to celebrate 200 years of history with their bicentennial in 2018, I hope this joint session, and events surrounding our visit here, will go down as one more historic event for Sandusky, to be remembered for years to come.
With that in mind, I want to give special thanks to the people of Sandusky and Erie County, to the local officials, law enforcement officers and other community leaders who have laid out the red carpet for us. And of course, thank you to our hosts here at the historic State Theatre. All of you have helped make this year's State of the State possible and we're grateful.
Please join me in welcoming our Lieutenant Governor, Mary Taylor, and members of my Cabinet and staff who are with us this evening and have been out and about in the community all day, listening and learning. It's been an important part of this new State of the State tradition to take our Cabinet directors into the community, and we are grateful to all the local organizations and individuals who have helped with those visits.
I have to tell you, I've been in love with Ohio's North Coast and this part of the state for a long, long time. For about as far back as I can remember, my family packed up the car every summer and drove from McKees Rocks, near Pittsburgh, up to Vermilion.
And when we crossed the border in Ohio, my uncle - who was with us - would always say, "Johnnie, we've reached the promised land!"
I have a lot of good memories of summers here on the lake. And this region continues to generate good memories for hundreds of thousands who come here for the recreation, resources and hospitality this Lake Erie coast is well known for. And Sandusky is at the heart of it all.
That's why we're investing so much in our lake and coastal resources, to make the water cleaner and keep it that way - about two and a half billion dollars to improve Lake Erie since the start of this administration.
This includes a $1 million grant we announced here yesterday so the City of Sandusky can work with the state to restore the wetlands in Sandusky Bay that filter pollutants and make Lake Erie cleaner.
These are investments in water, in natural resources and our quality of life, but they are also investments in economic growth because when we take care of the world around us, it becomes another reason that job creators want to put down roots here and grow.
As I have said many times before, our greatest moral purpose as government leaders is to create an environment of job creation in which people can have work and support their families.
If we can think back to just a short six and a half years ago, we had a loss of 350,000 jobs, an $8 billion deficit and the rating agencies were ready to write down our credit.
This is old news to many of you, but I'm saying it again because we have some new members of the legislature here tonight who didn't go through that experience with the rest of us.
We are now up 460,000 new jobs and we are working to create a more diversified economy, so that when one sector is struggling, other sectors can lift us up.
Oh yes, manufacturing and agriculture still matter - they're two cornerstones of our state - but they are changing. Look at the auto industry, where engines and transmissions are more powerful, durable and efficient than ever. In aviation, breakthroughs are making jet engines quieter and cost less to operate.
And in agriculture, Ohio farmers are using the latest research to be more productive so food scientists can meet the demands of a growing population around the world.
The world's job creators know that Ohio makes things. That's why they're turning to us for their future success, and they're using new technologies and innovations that dramatically change the way products are made.
Just down the road in Norwalk, the German auto parts maker Borgers has spent $60 million on a new, state-of-the-art plant that will create jobs for more than 230 workers earning $8 million in annual payroll.
And near Dayton, the giant Chinese auto glassmaker Fuyao transformed an abandoned car factory into a new cutting-edge facility employing 2,000 Ohioans who supply all the major automakers with advanced glass.
Other big companies, like Amazon, are finding a home in Ohio. They're an amazing innovator and have combined highly trained workers and best-in-class processes to turning retailing inside out, but they're also the leader in cloud computing.
Amazon has three cloud computing operations in the United States: on the west coast, on the east coast and one right here in Ohio.
We also have Explorys, a fast-growing leader in the health data analytics field that began as a startup operation at the Cleveland Clinic and was recently acquired by IBM Watson.
And there's Cardinal Commerce, a leader in financial technology and digital commerce that just opened a new headquarters in Mentor, and Interstate Chemical, which is investing more than $50 million in a new plant in the City of Oregon, not too far west of here, and Alkermes, a pharmaceutical manufacturer that's growing its operations in Wilmington and bringing innovative products to patients worldwide who are battling addiction.
These job-creation stories, and dozens more like them, demonstrate the way our state - with JobsOhio's support - is attracting the businesses of the 21st century from a range of different industries.
How did we do it? We first stabilized our budget within our existing resources, which reassured job creators that Ohio knows how to fix its problems itself, without imposing new burdens on them. Then we cut taxes and eliminated income taxes for almost every small business, since they're the engines of job creation.
And we streamlined regulations and committed ourselves to constantly improving job training, so job creators have the workforce they need and Ohioans can take advantages of all the new opportunities coming our way.
All of this work is helping Ohio earn a reputation as the place to be. Last fall a survey of CEOs named Ohio one of the ten best places to do business - 34 places higher than we ranked in 2010, and last year Forbes ranked us the 11th best state for business, up from 38th five years ago.
There have been other good ratings, like the one from middle market executives that placed us first in growth.
This is all great, of course, but we can't stop now. The Midwest is ripe for investment, development and growth - and Ohio is at the center of it. The only thing that can hold us back is if we sit on our hands or stop to rest.
I guarantee you that other states see our success and want it.
Staying on the right track means keeping up the same energy that got us here and building on the ideas that we know work.
Conservative budgeting, even in these tight times.more tax reform.more work to streamline regulations.more progress on connecting education and workforce training with job creators.these are all critical to our future success and our Administration's budget proposal moves us forward on all of these fronts.
Protecting Ohio's hard-fought fiscal stability is again priority one in our budget. The General Assembly has been a good partner in holding the line on spending and I appreciate that teamwork. We saw the value of that in recent months when state revenue fell far below what were already conservative projections.
We're managing, however, because - together - we have kept spending in check. It's a reminder that challenges can always lurk just around the corner, so we should always hold the line on spending - and that's more true in this budget than ever before.
The way we respond to problems like these shows the world that Ohio has what it takes to successfully navigate rough waters, and that responsible governance is a beacon that helps draw job creators to our state.
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. 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.
That's why we need to reform our convoluted municipal tax system. Our tax department estimates that job creators could save $800 million if we do. That's $800 million that businesses can plow back into growth and hiring, and it adds nicely to the more than $5 billion in tax cuts we've already done together and the $5 billion in workers' compensation reductions we've already made. It all benefits businesses, schools and local governments.
We welcome your ideas on reform, because we need to listen to one another, but we must reduce the municipal income tax burden that is holding back our job creators from putting more Ohioans to work.
The barrier to these reforms, and many of the others we have achieved together in the past seven years, is the age-old fear of change. In a rapidly changing economic environment, in the digital age, in the age of worldwide markets, we can't always rely on the same expectations we once did.
We must anticipate and meet change head on, because if we hesitate the future will pass us by. We must leverage change to our advantage, and that means taking risks.
When we think about Ohio and our success in the previous century, wasn't it because we were risk takers? It's why Ohio is what it is today.
We were at the center of the industrial revolution because so many people dove head first into new ideas for what to make and how to make it - and they accepted no limits on how high they could go. That was all about risk taking.
We don't need to go any further than just down the road in Milan for a perfect example of what I'm talking about. Thomas Edison wasn't just a brilliant and creative innovator, he was a risk taker.
Can you imagine what he would be working on today? Or maybe what the Wright brothers would be up to? What technologies would they be embracing and what jobs would they be creating, with drones and self-driving cars and artificial intelligence?
They launched entirely new industries because of their vision and willingness to take on new challenges at great personal and financial risk to themselves. Their inventions and innovative technologies led to new jobs and prosperity for generations, across the globe.
The new Edisons and Wright brothers are out there, and Ohio needs to find them and encourage them. That's why I have proposed creating a chief innovation officer for Ohio, to help keep us ahead of the curve in a world where technology is changing faster and more profoundly than ever.
This person will lead a new Ohio Institute of Technology, which will mine our strengths, coordinate our resources and always be looking ahead to help our state stay in front of what's coming next, whether it's advanced materials.the latest in biotechnology, aerospace and robotics.sensors or other areas that haven't even emerged yet.
These are the ideas that will profoundly change our world in the very near future. Just think about it.
Cars will look completely different inside: you won't touch the controls because there won't be a steering wheel or pedals. Traffic deaths will fall dramatically - if not disappear - especially from drunk and distracted driving. We might decide not even to own cars, since we'll be able to order them up on-demand whenever we need one.
One place we might not visit as often will be the grocery store, since drones will be delivering our groceries - and maybe even a hot, fresh pizza - right to our doorsteps. It'll be something straight out of the Jetsons.
Drones will help farmers better manage their crops, help firefighters more safely battle fires and allow ODOT safety inspectors to more thoroughly peer into even the highest corners of our tallest bridges, without ever having to climb or hang from dangerous heights.
Big data will lead to better health care, by helping us find patterns in what works and what doesn't.
That will help us unlock the answers to tough challenges like infant mortality and drug addiction. We can even use big data to help us tackle education challenges, so we can understand the specific triggers behind dropping out, truancy and reading problems.
Advanced sensors also hold great promise. We're already using them, in fact. For some with disabilities, the basic act of taking a morning shower can have a profound effect on the kind of day they have. That's why caregivers are turning to new showerhead sensors that can alert them if the shower isn't turned on in the morning; then they know to reach out and make sure everything is OK.
When I talk to my friends in the technology area, they marvel at what's coming, but they also caution about the dramatic impact all of this will have on today's industries and workers. I heard the same thing from business leaders in Europe recently. The message was the same and clear - dramatic change is coming.
Assembly lines - and their workers - will see even more changes from robotics. Drivers - a top occupation - will be confronted by the reality of self-driving trucks. The entire automobile supply chain workforce will face a transition from internal combustion engines to electric power units.
Make no mistake; change will affect more than just blue-collar jobs. Even high-paying careers such insurance adjusters and stockbrokers will be impacted by artificial intelligence.
The bottom line for almost everybody in almost every profession is this - if we aren't prepared for change we're going to find ourselves out of a job. Change is coming whether we like it or not, so let's accept the change but reject the fear and the hesitancy and the unwillingness to prepare. We must get ahead of the coming wave. We must be acting, not reacting.
That leads to this question: can education and business come together, see change as an opportunity and help Ohio succeed in the coming brave new world?
Business, education, government - all of us - we all need to start thinking about what new jobs are going to exist, which ones will change - and, yes, maybe even go away - and plan together for how we will help Ohioans of all ages continue to succeed in their careers.
To that end, I'm announcing tonight that I am creating a new task force comprised of leaders from a variety of businesses and industries that will work with leading education thinkers to look into the future and try to anticipate what we might lose and what we might gain.
And then, they will outline what Ohio needs to do to prepare our people for the coming changes, so we can make the future an opportunity rather than an obstacle.
The need to leverage this coming future is why I'm already moving to help Ohio embrace coming technologies, such as smart roads that accommodate autonomous vehicles, drone technology, data analytics that chart a more effective course in solving problems, sensor technology, and improved cyber security.
We are in an ideal position to capitalize on these advances and the jobs that will follow. We have premier research centers, like right here in Erie County at NASA's Plum Brook Station and Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and at our universities.
We have the Transportation Research Center in central Ohio, the most advanced independent automotive testing facility on this continent. And, our capital city beat out all others to be the hub for intelligent transportation through the Smart City initiative, helping us move Ohio into the pole position for the future of smart mobility.
We also rank high among all the states for the quality and maintenance of our complex highway infrastructure. While many states have fallen behind in highway repairs and improvements, we have invested $14 billion on more than 7,000 projects since 2011 - an increase of more than $3 billion or nearly a third of what we might normally put into infrastructure.
And this has made it possible for us to free up resources to take us to the next level with new investments in smart highways and drone technology.
That only happened because we had the courage to take on risk and leverage the Turnpike's untapped economic value by issuing bonds that would allow us to keep pace with repairs and improvements - not only on the Turnpike itself, but also on other roadways that create northern Ohio's strong transportation network.
Yes, transportation, manufacturing, agriculture - all those things that have made Ohio what it is today - will be changed in fundamental ways. But perhaps the most profound effects of technology will be seen in education and in the ways that Ohioans, at all ages, prepare for rapidly changing workforce needs.
It's a matter of getting ourselves and our children ready to take on the jobs of future. And that, of course, requires change in our education systems. We cannot let education get in the way of learning. Schools must recognize the need for dramatic change.
Ask yourselves - are our schools adequately preparing our students for the future?
Earlier this year, I recognized a number of Ohio schools for their innovative work to help prepare students for college and career opportunities.
For example, three Cristo Rey High Schools in Ohio each partner with local businesses, providing work experiences for all their students. When these students leave, they know what it takes to work in a professional setting, and they have the resume and work ethic to prove it.
And in Marietta, teachers in the city schools begin exploring careers with their students starting in kindergarten and continuing throughout their schooling.
There are other simple initiatives we can apply to bring about change, like putting business people on school boards or asking teachers to learn about the workforce needs of local businesses. In the process, communities and schools will build closer ties, better support each other and better prepare our children.
We should embrace innovation like this. We will give schools more flexibility based on their programs to provide quality learning opportunities to prepare their students for the future.
Universities as we know them are going to be a thing of the past if they are not careful. Rising costs are not sustainable - whether it's their costs of operation or the way those costs are reflected in what students and their families have to pay.
Our colleges and universities need to embrace technologies and new ways of learning that help bring those costs under control.
That's why our community colleges have teamed up with Western Governors University - an online college that allows students to pay a single flat, low rate and move along at their own pace while getting credit for what they demonstrate they already know.
And just look at what they're doing down in Atlanta, at Georgia Tech, where they're offering a master's degree in computer science, entirely online - not a minute in the classroom - at a cost of just over $6,000.
That's a fraction of the typical cost for an accredited graduate degree, and students can earn their degree on their own time, in their own home.
Much needs to be done, but it's not beyond our reach. I'm confident we can make the changes we need. We're already pursuing new approaches to workforce development thanks to the broad base of input from the executive workforce board.
Look at the Ohio Means Job centers and the successful OhioMeansJobs website. And we will get there with education as well; as long as we can all pull together and stop fearing change.
The improvements we've already achieved in economic development remind us that big changes are possible - and that they can pay off.
Not that long ago people looked at what we wanted to do with economic development and wondered if the reforms we proposed would work, but the improvements that JobsOhio has brought to our state have helped us lift our game significantly.
Ohio was one of the first states to create an economic development agency, but over time it had stagnated, so we created JobsOhio to help us move at the speed of business instead of the speed of statute.
Today we have experienced, knowledgeable business experts working to create new jobs for Ohioans and Ohio is where it needs to be - at the top of the list when business leaders around the globe think of the best places to grow and expand.
I spend a lot of my time talking with CEOs from some of the world's largest companies and I can tell you they are fascinated by our economic development model. They want to know more about our success, and how it works.
As JobsOhio continues to pick up momentum and deepen its roots, they understand that their ultimate success will depend on the relationships they build with you and the job creators in your communities. That's why I have encouraged them to engage with you and your constituents, to learn from you what more they can do to create jobs in your communities.
Ensuring that we have the basics in place - fiscal strength, lower taxes, proper regulation - opens the door for us to sell our state across the nation and across the world. And while those efforts have begun to attract the industries and jobs of the future, we need to get ready to do more.
Ohio and the Midwest have the perfect opportunity to lead with the innovations and industries of the future. The east coast and west coast are too expensive. Companies are beginning to realize that they can hire workers and start businesses here at a fraction of the cost.
One of the most critical needs for a growing workforce is healthy workers.
That is why our administration and the legislature have worked to make sure that those who live in the shadows or those who find themselves in tough times are not left behind.
The expansion of Medicaid has brought health care to 700,000 people, one-quarter who have chronic illness and one-third who are struggling with mental illness or drug addiction. Expanding Medicaid has also freed up significant resources in our communities to help more people.
More coverage has strengthened local hospitals and made for a healthier Ohio. We've worked hard to bring innovation to our health care system.
Today, our Medicaid program is growing at just 3 percent, compared to the 9 percent growth we inherited six years ago, and we're keeping that growth flat. However there is always more work to do to address overall health care costs.
Our Director of Health Transformation, Greg Moody, has led an impressive effort to develop a system that rewards providers who keep costs low by incentivizing quality, not quantity, in health care. Medicaid, along with private insurers, will provide incentives for physicians who keep us healthy.
Engaging in payment innovations, like paying for outcomes, has led to more transparency and market-based reforms that will begin to result in more affordable health care for Ohioans. Our new effort serves as a model for other states to follow.
As people become healthier, we want to help them move onto a path to work. Thanks to your support, we are taking a comprehensive approach to help low-income young people, ages 16 to 24, get on the right track early and have a better opportunity to escape the cycle of poverty.
If you are in need, we will help you but our goal is always to get to the root problem and deal with the issues that are holding you back. Welfare without a job doesn't work. We are providing these young people with the tools to help them get back on their feet. We are in the early stages but this too can be a national model, one that's good for taxpayers, good for those in need, and good for providing hope and confidence in our youth.
Perhaps the greatest threat to that hope and confidence is drug addiction. It shatters dreams.
Seven years ago, I was heart-struck when I met a group of moms from Southern Ohio who had lost their children to drugs. I was not yet governor, but in their pain - and their passion for change - it crystallized the need for Ohio to get serious about fighting drugs.
That was the start of a campaign that shut down pill mills and prosecuted the crooked doctors who operated them. We moved the Highway Patrol into even more aggressive interdiction efforts to remove illegal drugs before they hit the streets in Ohio communities.
I'm so proud that our troopers continue to set new records. Last year, Highway Patrol troopers had their largest single heroin, meth and prescription pill seizures.
Ohio was one of the first states to create prescribing guidelines for doctors. We've linked our medical providers into our pharmacy system to slow doctor shopping and for the first time we're registering pharmacy technicians.
We've expanded access to the overdose-reversal drug to first responders, pharmacies and families of those addicted. And we created Start Talking! to encourage more adults to talk to children about the dangers of drugs. In all, we're spending nearly $1 billion a year.
And our work is paying off. We have seen a 20 percent reduction in opiate prescriptions and doctor shopping has fallen by 80 percent. But we have more work to do.
That's why I announced last week that Ohio is setting strict new mandatory limits - not just voluntary guidelines - but legal limits on how many opiates can be prescribed for acute medical procedures: seven days of opiates for adults and no more than five days for children.
These limits will be even more stringent than the recommendations issued recently by the CDC. Our physicians, dentists, nurses and pharmacists have been good partners and I appreciate their teamwork going forward.
Prescription opiates are often the gateway to heroin, as three-quarter of drug overdose victims had previously been prescribed a controlled substance. By keeping more people away from these addictive painkillers, we can begin to help the next generation.
Addiction is an enemy that knows no distinction between incomes or neighborhoods or skin color. Addiction simply seeks to devour everyone and everything. Therefore, there can be no divisions among us as we face this common enemy.
The partnerships must be absolute - across parties, layers of government, branches of government, the private and public sectors - whichever way you want to slice it. We must partner together and think and move as one.
That partnership starts at home, rises up to our schools and communities, goes up to our cities and counties, and then into our state and federal government.
Everyone has a role to play, but everyone must hold up their end. We all must stand together, shoulder to shoulder, against this common enemy.
Even as we work together on this mission, driving our strategies at prevention, treatment and interdiction, we must look ahead at the next idea and we are doing that.
That's why today I'm asking the Third Frontier Commission to provide up to $20 million to help bring new scientific breakthroughs to the battle against drug abuse and addiction. These funds will target existing, proven ideas that simply need an extra push to be brought to the fight - ideas like using a simple device that connects to someone's ear that can relieve pain and block the effects of opiate withdrawal.
This crisis is continuing to change, so our efforts to fight it must continuously change also. Through thick and thin, however, Ohio must stay unified, supporting one another, with each of us doing our part.
State government will be doing its part as well, by providing our communities, educators, medical professionals and other partners with new tools to help them fight this epidemic and we have more tools we'll announce soon.
But the ultimate partnership starts which each one of us, with our children, neighbors and others around us.
We love our children and care about our neighbors, so we've got to deliver this message to them: "Don't do drugs or you will destroy your life and you will destroy the purpose for which the good Lord created you."
As an American, I am very concerned with how divided our country has become. One reason is that people increasingly only consume news and information that reinforces their own views. How can we ever learn new ideas or understand how to come together with Americans from different backgrounds unless we talk to one another and hear how others think?
We have also seen an extreme division in our political system, with rising polarization and inability for the political parties to work together to address America's greatest challenges. This is not acceptable. Nor is it sustainable for the good of our country and the good of our children.
I believe one of the ways in which we can begin to address this problem - this very serious problem of polarization - is for people to find commonality in the challenges that lie before us.
Fighting the scourge of drug addiction and death is not something limited to one party, or to one ideology or philosophy.
Everyone mourns at the death of somebody who has been taken by drugs. We need to work together to solve this where we live.
Hunger in our communities is not a Republican or Democrat issue - or a Liberal or Conservative issue.
When we go to Kroger, we round-up to make sure that our local food banks get more money. And maybe we even take some time to staff a local food bank, because hunger knows no party affiliation.
When we read in the paper of the death of a baby because of the problem of infant mortality, we all mourn regardless of party or philosophy.
And it is up to all of us to come together to do what we can for those who are at risk, to make sure those babies are born and once they have been born they thrive.
When veterans come home from serving our country, it isn't a Republican or Democrat idea that they need to have a job, so it's up to us to reach out and help them and support them.
When someone in our community is aging and when they lose their spouse and have nowhere to go, it's not a Republican or Democrat issue to figure out how we give them some attention and welcome them into our families and our homes. Solving these problems will bring us together. It is going to be up to us, the people - where we live - to get it done.
If we begin to work together, we will be surprised at how much progress we can make. We'll begin to start the dialogue that can pull our country back together again. Working on these issues together in our community can bring us together as people, something we desperately need.
I'm not asking us to travel around the globe to achieve world peace or work great miracles, but to simply - one person at a time right where you live - start to rebuild the foundation of our nation. And that foundation is our people and our communities and neighborhoods. That's where America's greatness lies.
When I reflect on the work of Martin Luther King, he could never get politicians to create racial equality in this county because they thought it was too tough politically.
So he organized in neighborhoods, he brought people - black and white, rich and poor, liberal and conservative - together to drive change and to bring greater unity in our communities. We need to learn from that. And now, at a time when we're again so divided, it's up to us to attack the common problems that affect all of us.
By doing this, we can rediscover something that we seem to have forgotten somewhere along the way: We're all Americans, we're all people. You can't wait for a politician to show up and fix it.
Issues like these will never be solved in the Statehouse, alone - no matter how good our intentions. The solutions have to start in your house, in your church and your school - in your own town square.
When people begin to work together on these local concerns, they begin to understand one another, respect one another, and like one another.
They will rediscover their shared humanity and it opens their eyes and ears to the views of others. When we do that, we begin to heal our communities. It can be done.
We are seeing that pay off with the group we put together to strengthen community and police relations, where a cross-section of people with diverse backgrounds and points of view are having great success at finding real solutions to bring change.
Taking on tough challenges like those I've talked about tonight, require risk, a willingness to break from the status quo and to embrace - not shy away from - the stumbling blocks life throws in our path. Most of all, success in overcoming our challenges requires individuals with courage and a commitment to help.
Certainly, we have such men and women in Ohio today, the kind of men and women I have recognized each year at these sessions with the Governor's Courage Award.
I believe that Ohio and our nation works best when we believe in ourselves. It works best when we live a life a little bigger than ourselves.
Etched in the wall of our Holocaust Memorial at the Statehouse is an inscription - "If you save one life, it is as if you saved the world."
No problem is too big if we believe in ourselves. Love God and love your neighbor are the two great commandments. The first results in humility, the second in helping those in need. That brings out the best of us as human beings.
The thrill of Sandusky's famous roller coasters is going faster and higher, but the machines only work when all the parts work together. Ohio is the same way. 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.
The state of our state remains strong and 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 recommitting ourselves to helping each other along on our journey will we succeed in the coming years.
Ohioans make Ohio great. Government's job is to help support the environment in which they can do that - and then get out of their way.
We've seen such great progress. Let's keep going: higher..faster..together.
God Bless America. And God Bless Ohio.