Last week, Governor John Kasich gave his last State of the State Address in his hometown of Westerville. It was also my last to attend as Speaker of the Ohio House, a rather bittersweet occasion.
Just as Wilmington was most welcoming of this occasion and the guests who attended three years ago, Westerville opened its arms to us, and I have to thank the city, Otterbein University, and Representatives Anne Gonzales and Rick Carfagna for hosting the General Assembly.
It was especially heartwarming for the community to come together for the event in light of the recent tragic loss of Westerville police officers Anthony Morelli and Eric Joering, which could still be felt through the blue ribbons and lights covering the streets.
As the governor’s last speech, it was an opportune moment to reflect upon the accomplishments made since he took office and Republicans regained the majority in the legislature in 2011.
Coming in, there was an $8 billion budget shortfall, and through responsible spending, multiple balanced budgets, and an overall stronger economic environment, Ohio now has more than $2 billion saved in its Rainy Day Fund — which was at just 89 cents at the beginning of his administration.
On top of that, because of business-friendly initiatives, Ohioans have created more than 484,400 new private sector jobs since 2011, with the unemployment rate improving from 9.2 percent to 4.7 percent within the same time period.
In the past almost eight years, Ohio is clearly in a better place than it was, which can be seen through more resilient communities and greater opportunities for individuals and families.
As always, there is more work to be done. Ohio still has many issues it faces — from the opioid epidemic to the connection between education and the workforce. In the last several months of Governor Kasich’s term and in my role as speaker, I’m confident we can work together to do make more positive changes for our state.
In his speech, the governor made a remark about looking beyond ourselves to do bigger and greater things. I couldn’t agree with him more.
As Ohio and quality of life for all continue to improve, we are able to take advantage of an economic position that allows us to focus on pressing issues and work together to address the day-to-day concerns many Ohioans have.
By doing so, Ohio can continue its trajectory forward and become a more successful contender nationwide.
Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) represents the 91st District, which includes Clinton County.