Paul E. Kostyu reports:
Gov. John Kasich used his State of the State speech Tuesday night to plead with members of the Legislature – including skeptical members of his own party – to expand Medicaid to provide health coverage to more poor Ohioans.
“This is an unprecedented opportunity to bring $13 billion back to Ohio to fix our problems,” Kasich said. “It makes sense to bring this money home. It’s health coverage for the poor, a great number of them the working poor. What are you going to do, leave them out on the street? Are you going to leave them under bridges?”
In this third State of the State speech, the governor took a more serious tone than usual. . Absent were the numerous ad-libs and shout-outs to people in the audience, though there were a few. Last year, for example, he mentioned Ohio State University President E. Gordon Gee 13 times. This year Ohio State didn’t get a single mention.
Testing what is sure to be the outline of his campaign speech when he seeks re-election in 2014, Kasich hit general high points of the past two years in the 60-minute address at the Veterans Memorial Civic & Convention Center here. The evening speech marked the second time Kasich has taken it outside its traditional home at the Ohio statehouse in Columbus. Last year, Kasich gave the address in Steubenville.
He got a cool reception when he talked about Medicaid. And the 1,600 people who attended the governor’s annual State of the State address here were silent when the governor talked about raising taxes on companies that extract oil and natural gas from under Ohio.