CELINA — Gov. John Kasich visited the area on Monday, stopping in at the Mercer County Republicans’ Reagan Day dinner at the Galleria and speaking on topics such as agriculture, manufacturing, job creation and education.
Sen. Keith Faber introduced Kasich, who thanked those in attendance, such as Jim Zehringer and Rep. Jim Buchy.
“This state had drifted for many years, people unwilling to make choices, and it’s a shame because Ohio fundamentally is a great place to live,” Kasich said. “I say it because it happens to be a fact ... We are a huge state. We’ve got tremendous size. Try to drive it, you’ll see. You’re not just driving through wilderness, there’s some great rural farmland areas. You can’t drive through Ohio without bumping into a whole bunch of communities that are really significant. And then you take a look at our big cities. We’ve got some great big cities.”
The first he noted was Cleveland, followed by Cincinnati, Columbus, Toledo, Youngstown and Steubenville.
“There’s a lot of big stuff going on in Ohio, and we’re very diverse,” he said, noting Buchy tells him Mercer County is “the center of all the agriculture in all the world.” “It is. When you look at Ohio’s size and then you look at the people, and the people have these various skills.”
Agriculture, he said, is one of his focuses.
“I think for too long agriculture was sort of like the forgotten thing in the state,” he said. “We have farmers, we have chickens, we grow corn and wheat, that’s just a given, that’s just there. Well that’s not the way you should treat agriculture. You should think about agriculture in terms of how does it take advantage of the incredible opportunities we have in agriculture to access markets worldwide? How do we begin to think about using agriculture as a big deal?”
Kasich said the future is focusing on how agribusiness and how to market and sell agriculture. He noted food processing as one of Ohio’s skillsets.
“If you take manufacturing, for too long Ohio just bet on manufacturing,” Kasich said. “We make cars and we make things. We put all of our eggs in one basket and then when we drop the basket, we crush the economy. Manufacturing is a big part of our state because there are people the lord made who make things.”
An example, Kasich said, is the work they are doing with the automotive industry.
“Manufacturing isn’t what the old man used to do, manufacturing is different,” he said, noting manufacturing done throughout the state. “Many people in the manufacturing area make more than the lawyers and the doctors that live in your town.”
Kasich noted medicine, such as the Cleveland Clinic, and Philips who focuses on imaging who is relocating to Ohio, as well as a credit card company who is bringing a data center to Columbus.
“What we’d like to do is have Ohio, the Midwest, instead of being a fly-over state, if you want to be in information technology, stop in Ohio, stop in Ohio and realize there are many exciting companies in this state that you don’t have to go to Austin, Texas, or go to California, stay right here in Ohio,” he said. “And we’re developing information technology like you wouldn’t believe.”
Kasich then noted shale gas, is something he said would be a viable option instead of oil.
“This industry of natural gas can help us to get off the oil fix,” he said. “How long have we talked in America about not depending on people in the Middle East to satisfy our energy needs, and now under the ground, the good lord has placed these terrific resources that people from all over the world are coming in trying to figure out how to take out of our state.”
Shale, he said, means jobs, and the benefit “shouldn’t just apply to where the shale gas is.”
“I want to make sure they pay for the stuff they’re taking out of our state,” he said.
Kasich noted he also wants to give everyone an income tax cut, logistics, the lack of business-minded officials in the government, nursing home lobbyists versus keeping Ohioans in their own homes and the prison reform and “keeping politics to the minimum.”
For education, Kasich said residents should find out how their schools are doing and stated 40 percent of students going into college are in remedial math and English.
“What have they been doing in high school — 40 percent,” he said, then asking how many of those students drop out. “When our universities take our children in, they have an obligation to graduate them, not just enroll them. We’re going to start pushing that in the state and start giving the kind of advice and tutoring they need to get a real job — give them a skill so the young people have value.”
He also stressed no kid should be promoted beyond the third grade if they can’t read, and K-12 education in American, he said, needs to be improved.
“I’ll tell you what part of it is — professionalize the teachers, pay those teachers who do a fantastic job of getting our kids over the hurdles, measure how they’re doing in school, get more dollars in the classroom not in a bunch of stuff that’s not connected to the classroom, teach the basics, have high standards, not low standards, high standards,” he said. “If we can get that done, it would be fantastic for our children. Get the higher education system oriented the right way, it would be fantastic for them. The only thing that gets in the way is fear.”
Kasich said he is against “tax and spend.”
“We have a balanced budget ... We need to cut the taxes, we need to streamline our regulations,” he said. “We don’t want to have the government as an enemy.”
Kasich said he believes the country needs a new president, but “at the end of the day it’s us.”
“I don’t believe that the power or the fixing of America is going to come from the White House ... Washington is broken — it’s too much politics and too much about me, so we’ve got to take care of Ohio,” he said. “Ohio is now the No. 1 job creator in the Midwest. We are now No. 5 job creator in America, that’s fantastic from where we were, and it’s working because we’re focused.”
Kasich noted the three things he believes people need in America.
“We need a much better education system because America is falling behind ... We also have to modernize our entitlement program,” he said. “We need to restore the great Jewish-Christian tradition.”
The key, he said, is that it’s not just about “me.”
“Life is not just about me,” he said, noting the phrase love thy neighbor. “If we can think about the greater good ... If we can do a little bit better job of thinking about others, this country would be so much better, this state would be so much better. I think we’re on the way.”