Today, Ohio’s Gov. John Kasich (R) delivered his State of the State address, celebrating the successful passage of his ill-conceived JobsOhio program and for securing Cleveland, OH as the setting for an upcoming movie. But when Kasich began touting the state GOP’s assault on the collective bargaining rights of 350,000 public workers, a hail of boos descended from the gallery, derailing his stream of self-promotion. Youngstown Vindicator reporter Mark Kovac noted that this was “the first time I’ve ever heard heckling” during the State of the State address.
While Kasich painted a rosy picture inside the chamber, thousands of protesters filled the capitol, chanting slogans like “kill the bill” and “we won’t quit” in an attempt to “drown out” Kasich. The Columbus Dispatch captured the pandemonium outside, as teachers, firefighters, policemen, librarians, and other public servants fought to be heard. One of those workers, a 58-year-old teacher Portia Boulger from Chillicothe, OH, broke down in tears over Kasich’s treatment of public employees:
BOULGER: When he says he respects us, it’s a lie. He doesn’t respect me I’m 58 years old. I’ve been working since I was 13 and he wants to take my retirement away from me. Is that respect? Is that respect? No it’s not. He cares nothing about me. He cares about the Koch brothers and the money they put in his pocket. And I’m extremely angry and upset. And I’m not greedy. I am a hard worker and he doesn’t care about me or any of my kind.
While Kasich’s seemingly off-the-cuff speech was light on the details, Kasich previewed a budget proposal that would balance the budget on the backs of the less fortunate. While he reiterated his no-taxes pledge, Kasich “will look to save money” by, among other things, “administering the Medicaid insurance program differently.” Given his party’s stated goals this fall, that plan could include cutting Medicaid eligibility in half. Kasich also foreshadowed cuts to Ohio’s school systems. The total damage Kasich plans to inflict, however, will not be known until he releases his budget proposal on March 15. But if precedent serves any guide, Kasich will surely sacrifice the welfare of the majority of Ohioans to pad the pockets of the wealthy few.