A letter to Gov. Kasich, concerning Ohio's State of the State

by MARC KOVAC | CAPITAL BUREAU CHIEF Published:

Dear Gov. Kasich,

I'll be heading to Lima later this month to cover your State of the State address to lawmakers.

I like Lima. I did my internship at The Lima News back in the summer of '92. I ate a lot of lunches at the Kewpee and played many pickup games of basketball out at the high school in Elida.

A shaky security guard even falsely accused me of shoplifting a Roger Waters cassette tape at a big-box store in the city, not too long before that business went belly up (possibly for falsely accusing people of shoplifting Roger Waters cassette tapes).

So a February drive to Lima will be a welcome change of scenery from Capitol Square.

Nothing against Steubenville.

That was a fine drive to a fine community at this time last year, too.

But I'm begging in advance, please don't repeat the scene that was your 2012 State of the State.

That's not a commentary on whether your policy proposals are good or bad. It's just this: The annual speech is supposed to be something special -- even more so if you're making everybody drive a couple of hours away to hear it.

That wasn't the case in Steubenville, where you gave the same speech most people in the audience had heard multiple times.

Yes, I had a Strep-induced rash and fever at the time, which probably affected my attitude, but that's beside the point.

Granted, the "Courage Medals" you handed out were a nice touch, providing some much-deserved accolades to unsung heroes.

And you did drop a few new ideas -- that massive broadband upgrade to OARnet comes immediately to mind.

Otherwise, it was a repeat of comments you offered to newspaper editorial boards and reporters and industry and community groups multiple times in the preceding months.

That seems like bad form, given the distance people had to travel.

Yes, I know you made it clear during your budget rollout last week that you wouldn't be saying anything new during the speech.

I fully expect to hear all that stuff about the $8 billion budget hole you filled and the nearly $2 billion your administration has secured for the depleted rainy day fund.

You will no doubt mention how the state was 48th in job growth and now is first in the Midwest.

It's hard to envision a State of the State without that line about the state being dead in a ditch and you coming along and pumping it full of life-saving policy and how we're on the mend but there's still work to do despite the "headwinds" from Washington.

You'll have to mention Davos and the companies you met at the World Economic Forum and how enthusiastic people around the world are about Ohio. You can easily rattle off a list of the businesses that are expanding in Ohio due to your policy decisions.

With help from the Republican-controlled legislature, you fulfilled many of the promises you made prior to taking office.

With GOP super majorities in the Ohio House and Senate, you're poised to move even more law and policy changes.

You have plenty of new things to talk about -- school funding, Medicaid expansion, tax reform, Turnpike bonding, the crackdown on human trafficking. The list goes on and on.

But can we skip criticism of "foreigners" working in Ohio's oilfields and that line about how your plumber earns more than your lawyer and your shtick about the Ohio Turnpike applying for membership in the United Nations?

Some jokes remain funny with repetition. I don't think these are among them.

Also skip the edu-speak and cliche and marketing nonsense.

If we want to watch infomercials, we'll stay up late at night and flip through television channels.

Tell people what you want to do this session and why, in plain language that everyone can understand.

It would be best if you refrain from comments about your "hot wife."

Stuff like that only detracts from your message.

Two final things: Be careful eating that Kewpee burger; you don't want ketchup stains on your shirt in prime time.

And I know you are a Roger Waters fan.

If you decide to browse his albums at the local big-box stores, keep your hands out of your pockets.

Those security guards mean business.

Cheers,

Email Kovac at mkovac@dixcom.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.

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