Governor says Mahoning Valley and Ohio seeing better times - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

Governor says Mahoning Valley and Ohio seeing better times

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BOARDMAN, Ohio - Ohio Governor John Kasich believes Ohio is poised to become the most successful state in country "if we don't fear big ideas" and "we are willing to change."

In a speech at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber's annual meeting, the Governor covered topics ranging from education to the environment.

Governor Kasich said he feels a new "sense of optimism" in the Mahoning Valley and added it shows what happens when an area "doesn't give up."

The Governor drew applause when he talked about the state's financial situation. Kasich says when he took office Ohio was "dying like a leaf." Now, he said, the $8 billion deficit is gone, the state's credit rating is stable and two years later, there's a $2 billion dollar surplus.

Kasich says the changes have created a buzz for the state, adding more companies are interested in investing in Ohio. The Governor said he recently traveled to Switzerland where top CEO's of major international companies quizzed him about the positive changes in the state. Kasich says the buzz about Ohio is sending the message that "Ohio is now strong" and "it's safe to invest."

Medicaid

By far the state's biggest cost, Governor Kasich says he "fought the lobby in Columbus" and lowered the state's costs from 10 per cent of the state's budget to 3 per cent.

Ohio Turnpike

The Governor defended his plan for a $1.5 billion Ohio Turnpike bond sale that would raise money for highway and bridge projects. The governor said the reorganization plan does not involving selling or leasing the turnpike and much of the money will be used for infrastructure improvements in the northern part of the state.

K-12 Education

Governor Kasich said his budget provides an increase of $1.5 billion for early education or a 6 per cent increase. The Governor said he's against "social promotion", saying children shouldn't move to the fourth grade if they haven't mastered third grade level reading. The Governor says he also supports creating an A-F grading system for schools "so parents can learn how their school is doing."

Kasich says moves to improve the quality of elementary education in Ohio are all designed "to create and attract a quality workforce."

Oil and Gas Development

The Governor repeated assurances made in prior speeches that Ohio already has tough regulations on the oil and gas industry in place. It's been speculated a brine injection well in Youngstown caused the January, 2012 earthquake that rocked the city and brought about calls for stricter regulations. Governor Kasich said that to him the "quake seems like it happened yesterday" and reminded the crowd that after the seismic event, the state immediately shut down the operation. The site remains closed today. Kasich said the key to success in the development of the state's natural gas and oil industry is to have responsible regulations that won't destroy the industry. Kasich said his philosophy is simple, "if you dump junk, we won't put up with it", adding his goal is to generate a strong energy industry with strong environmental regulations.

Governor Kasich told the crowd he's also seeing a brighter future in other sectors of the state's economy including health care and financial services.

The Governor said Ohio is "starting to win, and I want us to climb to the very top."

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