Governor John Kasich took his state of the state address on the road to Steubenville, Ohio, a symbol of manufacturing’s good times and bad.
It was the first time an Ohio governor had made the annual address outside of Columbus.
“Manufacturing is coming back, encourage your people, your kids, if God made them to make things, let them make things,” the Governor told parents during an 80 minute speech.
He told a packed auditorium at a Steubenville grade school that Ohio has become the number one job creator in the Midwest and a leader across the country.
“We’re the number nine creator, job creator in America, from 48 to nine in one year!”
The Governor ticked off several companies that are either investing in Ohio or moving their operations here, including Honda, STERIS Corporation, Wendy’s and Timken.
Kasich also called for education reform, saying his position was not an attack on teachers.
“When the schools aren’t working and they’re under-performing, let our children go,” he said.
The Governor pointed to Wells Academy, where he was delivering his speech, as an example of educational excellence despite battling the same difficulties facing other urban school districts.
Sixty percent of its student body is from economically disadvantaged homes.
“In the teachers’ minds, in the administrators’ minds, nothing stands in the way of being great, not poverty, not broken homes, I mean these are obstacles!” Kasich announced.
Kasich said Ohio had just been awarded a $70 million dollar grant that would be used to fund early childhood education, something the Governor said his wife believes in strongly.
Kasich also called for a new energy policy that would allow for the growth of industries like oil and gas, renewable energy and coal.
“We’re the Saudi Arabia of coal,” said the Governor.
He insisted tough rules must be in place to prevent the destruction of Ohio’s environment.
“They can’t be complicated, they can’t be over the top because we need to have them, we can’t have some yahoo come into this state and damage this whole industry,” Kasich warned.
The Governor decried laws that prevent convicted felons from finding work.
He wants new legislation that will allow former offenders to obtain licenses to do jobs like cutting hair and driving commercial trucks.
Kasich also addressed the issue of privatizing the Turnpike.
He said he hadn’t made up his mind as to what he would do but he did say Ohio would never give up underlying control.
The Governor became emotional as he announced the creation of the “Courage” award.
He called to the stage the father of a fallen soldier, a human trafficking survivor and the founder of a group of survivors who lost loved ones to drug overdoses.
“I think you shine a light on people who do great things,” Kasich said.