Ohio is on the road to recovery and the Dispatch points out in this editorial how it’s thanks to the innovative thinking of Governor Kasich. Working with the Ohio Legislature, our state is laying the groundwork for job creation and it’s paying off:
For Ohio and its governor, 2012 has been a transformative year. John Kasich sped through his second year with his trademark zeal for getting done the big and difficult things, hardly skipping a beat after his 2011 reforms stabilized the state.
When Kasich took office that January, the state’s budget had an $8 billion shortfall and its economy was in a freefall. More than 400,000 Ohioans had lost their jobs. Former Gov. Ted Strickland clearly was in over his head. Hopes were high that Kasich, having learned politics in Congress and business in boardrooms, could repair the damage by the end of his first term.
He did it in a year.
The man who once balanced the federal budget, line by line, took a scalpel to the Buckeye spending plan and erased the deficit without raising taxes. He launched reforms of Medicaid, prisons and job-killing red tape, to name a few.
He got rid of the estate tax, shed government bureaucracy and proclaimed Ohio was once again “open for business.”
Is it ever. In a year-end review with reporters on Wednesday, Kasich cited employment statistics. Ohio went from being nearly dead-last in job creation to No. 5 in the nation this past year and No. 1 in the Midwest; we’re up 132,900 jobs. And unemployment, nationally at 7.7 percent, has dropped in Ohio during his tenure from 9 percent to 6.8 percent.
The state’s rainy-day fund, which held $1.78 in pocket change two years ago, now stands at $482 million.
The new third-grade reading guarantee aims to end social promotion and holds educators accountable for making sure struggling students are identified early and are provided help to catch up. The payoff will become obvious as students succeed, raising test scores and graduation rates.
The governor also tackled education reform in Cleveland, established a task force and signed tougher laws to fight human trafficking and brought university presidents together to distribute tight state dollars, requiring them to work together for the good of the entire system.
And instead of waiting for 2013, Kasich revisited the state’s two-year budget at the midpoint, enacting 3,400 pages of changes that continue right-sizing government and encourage innovation and collaboration. This month, he rolled out a deft compromise involving the Ohio Turnpike.
He knit together a deal that the Teamsters Union, the Democratic mayor of Cleveland and many northern Ohio cities are hailing, and one that will provide the state with $3 billion to rebuild snarled and dangerous roads and bridges within six years, instead of the previously projected 20. Again, he avoided raising taxes.
The governor plans to unveil a new school-funding plan next year. Though he has provided no details, Ohioans can expect that it will reflect more innovation and pragmatism.
Kasich also is gearing up to push through a boost of “fracking” taxes in order to lower income taxes, a deal that was held up in the legislature this year. This proposal makes sense because Ohio’s severance taxes on shale drillers are the lowest of any major producing state, and its 5.9 percent income tax “is too darn high,” Kasich said.
In the past two years, Kasich has courted, prodded and sometimes shoved lumbering, sclerotic state and local government toward innovation and efficiency. This is what leadership looks like.
But Kasich’s most critical accomplishment doesn’t appear on a spreadsheet or in legislation; it rests in the hearts of the many Ohioans who again have hope that their state and their prospects are on the rise.
You can read the original editorial here.