LIMA — Legislative Democrats want to help Gov. John Kasich get an expansion of Medicaid in Ohio passed, Rep. Matt Szollosi said today during a luncheon preceding a slate of events leading up to Kasich's State of the State speech.
“Medicaid expansion is something we’re pushing very, very hard, and we’re very open to working with the administration on,” said Szollosi, D-Toledo, House assistant minority leader, speaking at a luncheon for the General Assembly at Memorial Hall.
Leaders representing the four caucuses, including Speaker of the House William Batchelder, R-Medina, spoke at the lunch. Mayor David Berger, Allen County Commissioner Jay Begg and Rep. Matt Huffman, R-Lima, welcomed the crowd of 300, including many from the Ohio Legislature.
Batchelder said Ohio is moving in the right direction.
“The things that are going on in Ohio today are going to help people who own their own businesses, who work in small businesses,” Batchelder said.
Batchelder said he was proud of technological advances, allowing more Ohio House committee work to be shown live through webcasts and broadcasts. He made a joke at his own expense, discussing his lack of tech expertise and referring to computers as “little TVs” on desks.
Senate President Pro Tempore Chris Widener, R-Springfield, and Senate Minority Leader Eric Kearney, D-Cincinnati, also spoke at the lunch.
Wanting improvement for Ohio’s families and future generations is a bipartisan ideal, Widener said.
“No matter where you are from, you’re for jobs, you’re for job creation, job retention,” Widener said. “We believe in keeping jobs in Ohio, bringing new jobs to Ohio. We believe in creating a business climate so that can happen.”
Widener praised Kasich, saying he’s not seen a leader like him in his time in Ohio government.
“It’s different to have a leader who actually cares about the future and has some innovative ideas about how to get there and doesn’t care whether people are for it or against it, he wants them to hear them,” Widener said.
Szollosi said he and Huffman talked about Ohio’s role in fulfilling energy needs for the country. Ohio has four major refineries, and one each are in Huffman and Szollosi’s districts.
Senate President Keith Faber, R-Celina, who normally would have served as a host legislator Tuesday, could not attend the lunch; he had a previously scheduled jury trial during the day.
Little news was made during the lunch, as speakers used most of their time to express appreciation to the community for the efforts on the day.
Batchelder reminisced about the first legislator from Lima he served with, lawyer and minister Walter White. Huffman interjected that White was on his paper route.
After the lunch, legislators departed for community tours or committee hearings.
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