Kasich focuses on opioids, automation, political unity; avoids political landmines

State of the State speech

Governor John Kasich ran the gambit, during his penultimate State of the State address, Tuesday night.

The approximately hour-long speech, covered the Great Lakes, health care, opioids and automation, but the thread of political unity seemed to weave its way through several topics.

However the Governor steered clear of addressing several national topics affecting Ohioans like a new health care bill currently in the works, and dramatic proposed federal cuts to Great Lakes funding.

“We should fight together…. hunger in our communities that’s not liberal or conservative or Republican or Democrat,” Governor Kasich said Tuesday night. “Hunger knows no affiliation.”

Kasich also characterized the opioid crisis as a decidedly non-partisan issue, spending a significant amount of time speaking about progress and solutions.

Opioid prescriptions are down in Ohio 20 percent over the last four years, according to a report using Ohio Automated RX Reporting System data.

Kasich referenced the statistic to indicate areas in which the crisis has seen progress. 

The Governor proposed legal limits on the amount of time a health-care worker can prescribe opioid medications, proposing restricting the allotment to seven days for adults and five days for children.

“Prescription opiates are often the gateway to heroin, as three-quarters of the drug overdose victims had previously been prescribed a controlled substance,” Kasich said. “By keeping these pills away we can help the next generation.”

Kasich says the proposed limits are more stringent than those suggested by the Centers for Disease Control. 

Putting $20 million toward new technology and tools to thwart the dramatic increase in opiate use, was another idea heralded by the Governor inside the historic State Theater as he also called for improving communication across the aisle. “Our partnerships in fighting this have to be across parties… which it is… it is.”

The two-term governor has built a reputation on bi-partisanship throughout his term as the head of Ohio’s executive branch and has stood against his own Republican Party establishment several times.

Perhaps his most recent outspoken admonishment of the Grand Old Party came when he called Republican efforts to railroad “Trumpcare” legislation through on Capitol Hill, without reaching across the aisle, “pathetic.”

In true Kasich style, he also said President Donald Trump would be open to cooperation on a bill.

Kasich took heat from his party members when he expanded Medicaid in Ohio, extending healthcare coverage to 700,000 people --- a move he labeled a success Tuesday.

However, the Governor fell silent on directly addressing new efforts by Republicans to craft a replacement for Obamacare and closer to home the issue of infant mortality.

While he acknowledged infant death is a big problem in Ohio, saying “we read in the paper…. the death of a baby and the problem of infant mortality… that’s all of us… that’s shared humanity,” specific solutions were not offered.

Despite Kasich’s pledge to “work to destroy this evil of infant mortality,” the Governor gave no tangible ideas about how to deal with Ohio’s dismal 43 out of 50 state infant mortality rate ranking.

One of the first topics Kasich addressed was the Great Lakes. After thanking the City of Sandusky, the Governor moved to address the nearby Lake Erie Shoreline, which could be seen from the entrance to the facility where he spoke.  

Hundreds of people who filed into the State Theater faced Lake Erie as they waited to gain entrance to the Governor’s speech.

Perhaps the display was a strategic move to highlight the Great Lakes, which are facing major federal cuts.

President Trump’s proposed budget would cut the $300 million per anum Great Lakes Initiative by 97 percent, a veritable decimation of a federal program aimed at keeping the water clean.

20 percent of the world’s fresh water supply can be found in the Great Lakes, and protecting Lake Erie was a stated priority of the Governor’s Tuesday night. “We’re investing a lot in our lake… to make the water cleaner and keep it that way,” Kasich proclaimed.

According to the Governor, “$2.5 billion have been invested in Lake Erie” since the start of his administration. “I hope that those that come after me will realize this is the great… great… jewel of Ohio.”

Governor Kasich touched on a changing economy which is continuing to see greater automation in cars, shopping, farming and manufacturing.

He spoke about hoping to see continued training and education in the hopes of maintaining a workforce prepared to succeed in a rapidly transforming economy, while his administration works to strengthen economic diversification.

Creating a prepared workforce seemed to extend to primary and secondary education, where Kasich is proposing adding non-voting business leaders to local school boards and requiring teachers to spend time in and learning about the workforce.

© 2017 WKYC-TV


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