Ohio Gov. John Kasich delivered his sixth annual State of the State address Wednesday at 7 p.m. before a joint session of the Ohio General Assembly in Marietta, Ohio.
Kasich focused on drug abuse and education in his speech, as well as building Ohio into a leader in America again. “Together, all of us … have actually lifted Ohio out of the ditch,” Kasich said. “The state of our state is getting brighter each day, and the outlook is good right here in the Buckeye State.”
Kasich also spoke about several programs recently created in Ohio, including mentoring programs like the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative, Start Talking, Ohio’s Medicaid expansion, Ohio Means Jobs, STEM education and the military family scholarship.
He spoke extensively on education throughout the night. Kasich is an advocate for reaching more students with STEM subjects but made the case for equally stressing the arts because they would help with “creative and critical skills.”
Kasich brought up the high cost of a four-year education. Average student debt levels in Ohio are above the national average, but legislation has been passed to constrain schools’ abilities to raise tuition.
He stressed the importance of guidance counselors, advocating for their support and new standards for them. But he also noted some successes, like Ohio’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee, which now has 94 percent of third graders passing the diagnostic test.
He also brought up drug abuse in the state. Ohio was ranked second in drug overdose deaths in the country in a study by the Centers for Disease Control based on 2014 data, right behind California.
The Ohio Democrats responded to the governor’s address, criticizing Kasich on being out of touch.
“I want people to do really well in Ohio, but it’s important for Ohioans to know that demand drives an economy, not tax breaks for the rich,” House minority leader Rep. Fred Strahorn said. “There is a clear disconnect between what is being said by certain people like the governor and the reality facing so many Ohio families every day.”
The speech was almost a homecoming for Kasich, who has spent a week in Ohio leading up to the primary but has been campaigning for presidential nomination for much of the rest of that time.
Kasich ended his address by presenting the Governor’s Courage Awards. Those who were honored included Margo Hudson, an adult literacy tutor who passed the GED test in 2012 on her sixth attempt; Wallace Peck, a self-taught Ohio artist with a developmental disability; and a last award shared by three people, including Belpre Schools Superintendent Tony Dunn, Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks, and Kelli Allman, who are leading the fight against addiction. Their awards will be displayed in Belpre High School.
The address streamed live on the Ohio Channel.