By: Molly Gase and Maggie Duff
Over 500 Akronites showed up for a Roundtable event with Governor John R. Kasich Tuesday, held at Quaker Square Inn.
A mixture of local business people, University of Akron faculty and UA students were among the crowd to hear the governor speak. During the Roundtable, Kasich addressed many of the issues Ohioans are currently facing.
“The mission is to lift the state,” Kasich said. “When I came into Ohio, I believed that Ohio was dying.”
The goal, according to Kasich, is to fix the state and not cater to specific groups. He said that he is “not interested in cutting” programs and that, instead, the idea was to reform the state in order to eliminate the structural budget deficit.
According to Kasich, Ohio is in competition with its fellow states. He pointed out several of the state’s problems and solutions in competing. He said that Ohio’s prices for business were too high, that Medicaid needs to be recreated and there is a need for programs that allow the elderly to stay at home, decreasing their living expenses.
“Kasich was a good speaker, but he seemed very pro-business,” sophomore political science major Emily Sherwood said. “While I may have disagreed with his methods, he seemed to have the best intentions.”
Kasich also wants to restructure the prison system in Ohio to decrease the cost of locking up approximately 12,000 people per year. He suggested that the privatization of the prison system and the creation of a community setting for reformed prisoners would save the state money and improve conditions for prisoners. Kasich said that this system saves lives, gives offenders a second chance and has led to a 50 percent decrease in violence within the prisons.
Kasich also wants the state to work toward encouraging economic development.
“We cannot have economic development that moves in the speed of a statue,” Kasich said. His solutions to the slow moving economy include the hiring of experts in advanced mechanics and materials and “killing the death tax.”
Kasich then spoke about the positive industries that are not only in Ohio, but specifically in Northeast Ohio. He pointed out that Goodyear is here, Diebold has stayed in Canton and that this area has the benefit of the Akron/Canton airport. The fast-food chain Wendy’s is once again back in Columbus as well.
Governor Kasich next moved on to some of the more heated issues surrounding his government in Columbus. Issue 2 was called “taxpayer fairness” according to the governor. It includes changes to state employee’s cost of healthcare and guaranteed pensions.
“This is not an attack on labor unions…we all pitch in together,” Kasich said.
When asked about Senate Bill 5 and if there are sectors that exempt politicians from the bill, Kasich answered with a no. He said that the bill will do such things as pay employees on the basis of performance.
Other topics that Kasich spoke on were privatization of the turnpike and other things that currently fall under the public domain. He also wants to allow casinos in Ohio.
Kasich said that casinos will add “ambiance and culture” to the area. He continued on to say that the $225 million coming in from casinos will “come in handy at food banks.” There is currently a 10-year freeze placed on the construction and opening of casinos, race tracks and other gambling facilities in Ohio.
One of the last topics Kasich discussed was how we try to reunite as a people in Ohio. Kasich said the excessive bipartisanship as a serious problem in the government in general. He believes that if the two parties were more willing to work together and could come to more sound conclusions on issues, the government would accomplish much more.
Campaigns against both SB 5 and Issue 2 have been seen on campus recently. Badges and t-shirts with both 5’s and 2’s crossed out do not express a hatred for the individual numbers, but for what they stand for. Students have learned about the governor’s legislation at tables that have been set up around campus and in the Student Union at different points throughout the year, and some students have decided to sign the petitions to protest the Issue.
During his speech, Kasich mentioned how he was raised near Pittsburgh and grew up in a blue-collar community. He graduated from The Ohio State University and was first elected to the State Senate at 26. Kasich also mentioned he held positions as managing director at Lehman Brothers, a FOX News commentator and has appeared on the New York Times list of best-selling authors three times.