The eyes of the state of Ohio will be on Lima tonight as Gov. John Kasich delivers his annual State of the State address. As the president of the Ohio Senate, and more importantly, as the senator from the 12th District, Iím proud to be hosting the governor and my colleagues from the House and Senate in northwest Ohio.
Gov. Kasich has an ambitious policy agenda before us this year, with a focus on job creation and workforce development.
Good jobs are essential to family stability and economic growth. We are committed to providing employers with the necessary tools to sustain their workforce. At the same time, we need to streamline workforce programs so Ohioans have the appropriate training to stay current with evolving skills and technology.
In addition to creating jobs, our agenda focuses on reforming taxes to lower the burden on families and small businesses and spur economic growth.
Two other major priorities are managing health care and strengthening schools.
Medicaid makes up the largest government program in the state budget. We must create a more efficient system of managing this federally mandated bureaucracy. We are also working to fight Medicaid fraud, encourage quality care, and creating systems to modernize the Medicaid management process.
Ohio spends more than 50 cents of every state dollar on education, and we need to ensure these resources are going toward student learning.
Education is the key to our childrenís future, no matter what career they choose to pursue. We need to be sure they are getting the best education possible, no matter where they live, what background they come from, or how much money they have.
We have a lot of work to do, and much of it will start with the governorís proposed budget. Just two years ago, Ohio faced a projected $8 billion budget shortfall. The legislature worked with Gov. Kasich to pass a conservative, responsible budget that eliminated that shortfall without raising taxes.
We went from double-digit unemployment rates to one of the top five job-creating states in the nation. The numbers in Lima reflect that improvement, dropping nearly in half from a high of 13.9 percent in 2010 to just over 7 percent in December. Thatís lower than the national average.
As a state, Ohioís credit outlook is stronger. Our business climate is better. And Ohio is being talked about globally as one of the up and coming places to live and work.
We should not underestimate the work that still lies ahead ó to balance our state budget; to educate our children; to build up our economy; to create jobs; and to make Ohio the greatest place in the nation to live, work and raise a family. This is no small task.
It is fitting the governor will be addressing these important messages today in Lima.
Ohioans know a lot about whatís going on in Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati, but many have little idea about whatís happening in Lima. Few people realize that the 12th Senate District is the stateís largest agricultural district and the second largest manufacturing district. As the largest city in the 12th District, Lima plays a major role in the economic prosperity of the region.
But Limaís reach extends much further than my Senate district. Our fellow Ohioans might be surprised to know that the Tide detergent in their laundry room was made in Lima; or that the battle tanks used by the U.S. Army to defend our freedom are built in Lima. In many ways, we are all dependent on the people of Lima.
Thatís why the legislature has decided to take the special session for the governorís State of the State Address on the road. We want to highlight the success stories in other areas of the state and remind us all that Ohioís success isnít driven by Columbus. The real engine is the hard work and dedication of Ohioans in places such as Steubenville and Lima. Our job as the legislature is to put policies in place that encourage economic growth and make Ohio the best place to live, work, and raise a family
I believe we are on the verge of an incredible resurgence. And I look forward for hearing the governorís vision for our great state from right here in Lima.
State Sen. Keith Faber, R-Celina, represents the 12th District and is president of the Ohio Senate.
See more State of the State coverage