LIMA — Gov. John Kasich has formally asked the General Assembly to hold the annual State of the State address Feb. 19 at Veterans Memorial Civic Center in downtown Lima, the governor’s office said today.
Kasich must ask the Legislature to convene a special joint session in Lima. Kasich hopes to make it an evening event, with a 6:30 p.m. start time.
Kasich’s office said he wanted to make a tradition of something he did last year: moving the annual address out of the capital city to highlight a community’s success. Last year, Kasich went to Steubenville’s Wells Academy, the top-ranked public school in the state. It was the first time an Ohio governor moved the speech out of Columbus.
Lima Mayor David Berger was so pleased with the announcement, he was moved to speak with an acronym for his town.
“This is a great surprise! A unique opportunity to showcase Lima and Allen County as a community where Life Is More Abundant,” Berger said. “We look forward to welcoming the governor, the cabinet and Legislature to our community.”
Kasich’s decision to deliver the State of the State outside the capital again is rooted in his desire to make state government more accessible to Ohioans and shine a light on communities across Ohio making contributions to the state’s success, according to a news release from his office.
Since January 2011, Allen County has experienced strong economic improvement, including an increase of 2,000 jobs in the Lima Metropolitan Area. Over the same amount of time, Allen County has gone from 10.8 percent unemployment down to 6.7 percent, reflecting Ohio’s strong economic resurgence and the importance of an improved environment for job creation via low taxes, streamlined regulations and a structurally balanced budget, the news release said.
Allen County is represented by the president of the Ohio Senate, Keith Faber, R-Celina, and the number-two Republican in the House, Rep. Matt Huffman, of Lima.
Huffman joked that the trip was not a result of his lobbying.
“I’m very excited about it, but while I’d like to say I have these great persuasive powers, it came out of the blue for me,” Huffman said. “It’s something the governor’s doing. He wants to highlight our workforce accomplishments, and other things that make this a strong part of the state, our manufacturing, our transportation center. It’s a great thing for Lima. It will be a very exciting day.”
Ohio governors deliver the annual State of the State address to a joint session of the General Assembly; therefore the General Assembly must pass a joint resolution enabling the legislature to convene for the day at the Civic Center in Lima.
Legislators last year and this year complained the move wastes taxpayers’ money, while others have said it highlights positive areas of the state outside the capital. Justices were unable to attend because court was in session, and some statewide officeholders and legislators either couldn’t or chose not to go, according to the Associated Press.
Kasich tried to make his case in a letter to members of the Legislature.
“I understand that many of you regard the governor’s State of the State address as a tradition typically held in the chambers of the Ohio House of Representatives. As a former member of the General Assembly I share your respect for this tradition, and also believe that we, as the state’s leaders, have a responsibility to make the work of government more accessible to Ohioans,” Kasich wrote. “Taking the State of the State address out of Columbus and bringing all 132 members of the General Assembly, the governor and lieutenant governor and members of the cabinet to communities across Ohio helps achieve this, and also showcases the diversity of our great state with little or no extra expense.”
Ohio Senate president Keith Faber, R-Celina is in Kasich’s corner.
“So much of our government is centered in Columbus, and I think it’s great that we’re using this unique event to put a spotlight on the rest of our state. I’m especially honored to host the governor and my legislative colleagues in Lima, one of the economic hubs of my district,” said Faber. “We’ve got a great story to tell, and I know Governor Kasich has an incredible record and vision to share in this important ddress. This is how government ‘of the people’ should work.”
Kasich’s State of the State will come after he unveils proposals for K-12 public school funding and a state budget in early February.