By Melanie Yingst
MIAMI COUNTY — Ohio Governor John Kasich tackled multiple issues facing Ohio with a roomfull of his supporters in Troy on Tuesday evening.
Members of the Miami County Republican Party hosted Gov. Kasich as an honored guest speaker for their annual Lincoln Day Dinner at the Crystal Room in Troy.
“Ohio has really worked for me,” Kasich told the crowd of local Republican supporters. Kasich recounted his political path that led him to run for the governor’s seat in 2010 in which he defeated former Gov. Ted Strickland. Kasich began his first term in 2011 and is seeking re-election in the spring primaries.
A native of Pennsylvania, Kasich told Miami County Republicans that his love of Ohio began as a student of The Ohio State University. He later served in the Ohio Senate at the age of 26 and then won the 12th district of Ohio Congressional seat in 1982. He served as a congressman until 2000.
When approached to run for governor of Ohio, Kasich said he made the decision because, “I could give back and help a bunch of people.”
Of his gubernatorial accomplishments, Kasich noted the turn around of the state’s $8 billion shortfall at the time he took office was the highest deficit Ohio had in its history.
Kasich used the analogy of running a restaurant with no customers on how he turned Ohio’s spending problem around. Kasich said, as of today, the state now has a $1.5 billion surplus and has maintained its credit rating.
“If you don’t have any customers, you don’t raise your prices,” he said.
Kasich spoke on how he supported the state’s elimination of its estate tax to draw more business to the Buckeye state. The state of Ohio’s estate tax was eliminated on Jan. 1, 2013.
In an exclusive telephone interview with Troy Daily News, Kasich said he is excited about the economic expansion and job opportunities Ohio has recently experienced.
Kasich cited the local growth of Abbott Labs in Tipp City, Pratt Industries’ ground breaking of its new $44 million box manufacturing facility in Lewisburg in November and the recent announcement of Chinese glass supplier Fuyao’s intent to reopen part of the GM Moraine plant.
“We’re working again,” Kasich said Tuesday, noting Ohio “wasn’t out of the woods yet” in terms of job creation, but, “we’re doing better.”
At the Lincoln Day dinner, Kasich said Ohio “has to run at the speed of business.”
Kasich also noted the state’s highway infrastructure will get a future boost if Ohio voters pass a bond proposal on the May ballot.
“I think we’re moving in the right direction,” he said of the infrastructure overhaul.
The renewal of these bonds, which will be put before voters on the May ballot, would authorize $1.875 billion of funding over 10 years without raising taxes on Ohioans, according to Kasich.
Kasich said he is “happy with how we are doing” in terms of K-12 education funding and the implementation of the Third Grade Reading Guarantee.
Kasich said the initiative stops social promotion and provides early intervention well before elementary school.
“I think it really opens up a whole world for kids,” Kasich said of the emphasis on reading.
At the dinner, Kasich said he was in favor of school choice, which he said provides competition for other schools to provide education in areas of under-performing public school districts.
“I think it helps to provide competition,” he said of school choice. Kasich also said he approves of the recent change of the state education’s new report card with A-F designation from its previous “Excellent-Academic Warning” label of local schools.
“It shows where our schools are doing well,” he said, adding it provides a “real inventory of performance of your school.”
Of the many challenges Ohio has, Kasich said marketing Ohio is a priority to tout the state as a great place to live, work and attract business and industry.
“One of our big challenges is making our state marketable,”said Kasich, noting great strides with stable budgets and cutting taxes are “sending the right message.”
“There’s a lot more to be done to be more aligned for the needs of job creators,” he said, noting education and work skills to fill the job needs of employers go hand-in-hand in attracting new business.
Kasich also addressed the growing trend of prescription pill and drug abuse in the state, as well as addressing the state’s mental health concerns.
“It’s like a tsunami in this state, in this country,” Kasich said of drug abuse.
Kasich shared how a new program to warn children of the dangers of prescription pill abuse will soon be implemented in local schools.
Ohio Senator Bill Beagle said Kasich’s attendance at the event shows Miami County is an important region for the Republican party.
Troy Mayor Michael Beamish said it was a great opportunity to host the governor in the city of Troy.
“He knows he has a good listening audience,” Beamish said.
Councilman Bobby Phillips said Kasich’s visit to Troy “shows the importance of our region, both politically and economically.”
For more information about the Miami County Republican Party, visit www.miamicountygop.org.
Melanie Yingst can be reached at (937) 440-5254 or you can follow her on Twitter @Troydailynews