State Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) recently expressed disappointment in Gov. Kasich’s state of the state address, saying the governor failed to provide 11 million Ohioans an explanation on why the state is on “the verge of a recession” after six years under his leadership. The lawmaker also noted that the governor’s budget failed to adequately address the real state of the economy, education, healthcare and recent drastic state cuts to communities in Ohio.
“I was disappointed that Governor Kasich again tried to convince Ohioans that 51 consecutive months of job growth below the national average is a good thing by not addressing the real economic issues, and that he continued to push his 40-hour public school teacher externship idea—which has not gained traction with any member of the 132nd General Assembly. I think the Governor should ‘GET REALS’ and stop the tax shifting and funding cuts on public education.”
Under Gov. Kasich, Ohio’s job growth has trailed the national average for 51 consecutive months, and 2016 was the slowest year of Ohio job growth on record since the Great Recession in 2009.
In fact, the last time Ohio led the nation in job creation in 2010 was under a Democratic governor and a Democratic House of Representatives.
For many struggling families, the jobs that are available do not provide enough to help make ends meet. The average household in Ohio is bringing home thousands of dollars less than the average household in America, ranking 32nd for income nationally. Roughly one in seven Ohioans are living below the poverty level, a rate slightly higher than the national average for poverty.
“The last time the governor addressed the legislature he warned that Ohio was “on the verge of a recession’, but weeks later introduced a budget that doubles down on the tax-shifting policies that have harmed so many working families and brought us to this point,” said House Minority Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). “Ohioans deserved to hear honest remarks from the governor on his plan to address the economic and other challenges facing our state, not just more of the same.”
Since taking office, Gov. Kasich has cut over $1.7 billion in local community funding, money that cities and towns use to pay for police and fire, keep the roads paved and the water clean, and provide a quality public education to our children. 33 Ohio cities are on the state’s fiscal distress list because of inadequate finances needed to provide basic services and meet fiscal obligations.
“Republicans promised the economy would grow and good jobs would be created with trickle-down tax shifting policies, but these policies of the past have held Ohio back from growth and opportunity,” said Assistant House Democratic Leader Nick Celebrezze (D-Parma). “Ohioans deserved to hear the governor’s plan about how he will put them back to work and drive economic growth, but instead they got a highly-marketed self-promotion campaign.”
During Kasich’s tenure, Ohio’s education rankings have tumbled from fifth in 2010 to 22nd nationally, according to the education-industry trade publication, Education Week. School funding is still lagging behind pre-recession levels, with $1 billion dollars less for public schools since 2008 while Ohio charter schools have received an historic $1 billion in taxpayer dollars.
“Communities across the state are struggling to pay for the police and fire that keep us safe, to keep teachers in the classroom and to keep roads and bridges from crumbling – all due to drastic cuts made by the governor and his legislative partners to pay for tax breaks for the wealthiest Ohioans,” said House Democratic Whip Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood). “If we expect our workers to compete in the 21st century and our state to attract the best and brightest of the next generation, we have to invest in our communities, not starve them of critical resources.”
Though Kasich expanded Medicaid in Ohio under the Affordable Care Act, many Ohioans continue to face barriers to good health. According to the United Health Foundation, Ohio ranks 39 out of 50 nationally for population health and the average Ohioan’s life expectancy is a full year below that of the average American. Instead of pursuing policies to increase access to care, however, Kasich – in his new budget – is kicking some 40,000 vulnerable Ohioans off of healthcare through new taxes and fees.
In addition, while the nation’s infant mortality rate has dropped to an historic low, Ohio has lagged behind other states in improving its abysmally high infant mortality rate. The Buckeye State has consistently fallen near the bottom of state rankings of infant mortality rates under Kasich’s watch, and a pronounced racial gap in the rate means black babies in Ohio are three times as likely to die before reaching their first birthday than a white baby.
Meanwhile, Ohio leads the nation in heroin and opioid overdose deaths under Kasich’s watch. Despite repeated calls from Democrats, the governor has refused to recognize the statewide opioid epidemic as the statewide emergency that it is and release emergency funding to support law enforcement, treatment providers and first responders struggling to address the crisis at the local level.
“From our high infant mortality rate to the growing opioid addiction crisis, Ohio’s challenges to our health and well-being hold us back from full growth and opportunity,” said Assistant House Democratic Whip Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron). “Unfortunately, the governor has so far ignored the calls for him to lead with resources, especially in terms of combatting the statewide heroin and opioid emergency that is claiming more lives with each passing day.”
Instead of the tax-shifting policies in place under Kasich the last six years, Smith called for the governor and GOP-controlled legislature to change their approach by rebalancing taxes to rebuild the middle class and recession-proofing the state by investing in the future – in our kids and communities.