Governor Kasich delivered his State of the State Address to the General Assembly in Steubenville recently. Rather than hold the session at the Statehouse this year, we travelled to Wells Academy, the top-ranked public elementary school in the state.
I was pleased that part of the focus was on many of the accomplishments that the House worked on during the past year. This includes getting Ohio out of its budget hole of $8 billion and doing so without raising taxes. The budget focused heavily on jobs and education. Additionally, Governor Kasich noted the legislature’s critical, bipartisan reforms we made to eradicating prescription drug abuse and restructuring criminal sentencing in Ohio.
During this annual speech, we grasp an understanding of where Ohio was just a few short years ago and where we currently stand. However, it is also important that we develop a vision for the future realizing that there are a number of issues that must be addressed in the coming months.
Jobs will continue to be the top priority, and Governor Kasich made this abundantly clear by listing many of our state’s accomplishments in this arena while also making a passionate argument for what we have yet to do. Members of the House Republican Caucus are eager to get Ohioans working again.
We already have a head start by taking a closer look at how we can reform our workforce development system and fill the more than 70,000 jobs that are already available. This requires listening to the needs of business and making sure that our community colleges and universities are producing the skilled workforce that Ohio requires.
I am hopeful Ohio workers can easily be trained in a variety of jobs, including the work that energy exploration from the shale beneath us will require. In addition, we will ensure that our young graduates are being trained to take the jobs that need filled as we tap into this resource.
We must also continue our focus on education. One of the problems we face is that it is becoming increasingly difficult for college students to complete a college degree in four years. We believe that we can better align Ohio’s colleges and make important reforms, including making it easier for students to transfer schools without having to retake classes on the same subject matter among our priorities.
Our universities do not necessarily need to be competitors. They can work together to do what is in the best interest of the state as a whole. One of the ways that Governor Kasich is hoping this can be accomplished is through a capital bill that will be of great benefit to our entire university system. All of this is in addition to the focus we will have on working to solve Ohio’s school funding problems at the K-12 level.
As the House, Senate, and governor work together on the issues of the day, we will continue to listen closely to our constituents and their ideas. Members of the House are continually honored by the opportunity to represent those back home. I am pleased to have listened to the governor as he laid out the road map he would like to take, but I am also glad to hear from you on what you believe will be necessary to put Ohio back on track. Together, we can accomplish great things for our great state.