National Review Online (a conservative publication) conducted an interview with Ohio Governor John Kasich. NRO editorial associate Brian Bolduc sat down with the governor and gathered his thoughts on 2011 and the future. The article is sympathetic with Kasich but acknowledges some of the governor’s setbacks and challenges.
Bolduc began his piece by discussing Issue 2 and the defeat of Senate Bill 5, which he described as a “significant defeat” for Kasich. Interestingly enough, Bolduc wrote, “Kasich had hoped to incorporate the legislation into the state budget — and thus shield it from a repeal effort — but a rogue state senator introduced the bill as a stand-alone, and eventually, Kasich had to defend it.”
The “rogue state senator” is Shannon Jones, who introduced the original version of SB5.
Not ironically, however, Kasich signed into law a state budget that included merit pay for teachers, which was one of the elements of SB5. Many postmortem analyses of Issue 2/SB5 partially blamed Kasich’s poor salesmanship of the law for its riveting defeat, but the measure’s opponents outspent and out-advertised Kasich and the issue’s supporters. One might even say that Kasich didn’t really defend the law, at all—and if so, he did only half-heartedly.
Bolduc shifted to Kasich’s approval rating—36%—which he credited for Kasich’s inability “to make the sale.” Ironically, Kasich, a mere two months after beating incumbent Ted Strickland, a Democrat, his first Quinnipiac poll registered a 30% approval rating with 22% disapproving. The latter figure steadily climbed once SB5 was introduced in February. In reality, Kasich’s unpopularity was the result of SB5 rather than hindering his salesmanship.
But the title of Bolduc’s piece is “Kasich Reboots,” so it is forward-looking. As Bolduc transitioned, “But Kasich isn’t down for the count.” Governor Kasich has many accomplishments that are all but forgotten due to his one major setback. Bolduc credit’s the governor for “200 new jobs at a material-handling company in Cincinnati, 450 new jobs at a Republic Steel plant in Lorain, 1,100 new jobs at a Jeep complex in Toledo” as well as 40,000 new jobs.
According to Bolduc, Kasich’s strategy includes a heavy dose of “tax incentives to lure businesses to the Buckeye State” in large part because neighboring states—viewed by Kasich as competitors for jobs—are doing the same thing. He cites Sears as an example. Earlier in the year, we wrote that the company was considering moving its corporate headquarters from Chicago to Ohio. Now, it appears that an Illinois state legislator jockeyed for a sweeter deal to keep Sears put.
Kasich also balanced the state budget without raising taxes and abolished the estate tax.
As for the future, the governor will focus on “work-force training” programs, energy policy that includes oil drilling, health care reform involving outcome-based medicine, and education. On the latter, Kasich said, “What we are attempting to do is to get businesses to start forecasting what kind of a work force they need and then begin driving within technical schools and community colleges outcomes that are consistent with job needs.” According to Bolduc, Ohio has 70,000 job openings but the state’s workforce is insufficiently trained to the meet the demand.
In closing, Bolduc revisits Kasich’s unpopularity and the SB5 setback. He wrote, “Kasich is soldiering on despite his critics’ gripes.” In Kasich’s own words, “If you don’t have a critic, you’re not doing anything.” Overall, the piece is a fairly-written article that seems cautiously optimistic for the future. While Bolduc acknowledges Kasich’s setbacks, they seemed mere speed bumps on the road to job creation.