On his way from Columbus, Mr. Kasich made a detour to check out Cedar Point’s roller coasters.
“I don’t know if it can go any faster or higher, but the machines only work when all the parts work together,” the Republican governor told the crowd in the historic Sandusky State Theatre.
“Ohio is the same way,” he said. “We can reach great heights, historic heights, but only if all of our state’s pieces are working the right way together. State government is just one of those pieces and its role isn’t to control or dictate, but to serve.”
(NOTE: You can read a transcript of Kasich’s entire speech at the end of this story.)
Highlights from Gov. John Kasich’s State of the State address:
• He said lawmakers need to continue with conservative budgeting, more tax reform more work to streamline regulations and more progress on connecting education and workforce training with job creators.
• He said we need to reform our convoluted municipal tax system, which he estimates would result in job creators saving $800 million.
• He’s proposing the creation of a chief innovation officer for Ohio to lead a new Ohio Institute of Technology.
• He announced he is creating a new task force comprised of leaders from a variety of businesses and industries that will work with leading education thinkers to outline what Ohio needs to do to prepare for economic changes which include coming technologies — such as drone technology, sensor technology, and improved cyber security.
This marks the sixth of Mr. Kasich’s annual State of the State addresses that he has taken on the road. After holding the first in the traditional Statehouse, the governor has talked to lawmakers and cabinet officials in schools in Steubenville and Medina, convention centers in Lima and Wilmington, and, like Sandusky, a theater in Marietta.
Some of the governor’s top administrators were in the city and surrounding communities all day, attending dozens of local events and a big luncheon for state legislators and community leaders at Cedar Point.
“We were at the center of the industrial revolution because so many people dove head-first into new ideas ... about what to make and how to make it, and they accepted no limits on how they could go,” Mr. Kasich said. “That was all about risk-taking.
“And we don’t need to go any further than just down the road — I just saw that Thomas Edison Freeway — Milan, perfect example of what I’m talking about,” he said. “Thomas Edison wasn’t just a brilliant and creative innovator, he was a risk-taker.”
The state transportation budget signed by the governor includes additional investments in smart-highway technology for autonomous vehicle research and authorizes support for drone research.
“Folks, [change] is coming,” Mr. Kasich said. “Make no mistake. This change will affect not just blue-collar jobs. Insurance adjusters, stockbrokers — they may be impacted by artificial intelligence. Who knows maybe even the General Assembly will be replaced by robots. ... And maybe governors as well.”
He argued that government can’t be the cure-all for social ills such as addiction and infant mortality while saying the state can play a role.
He announced a $20 million investment by Third Frontier, a state entity that invests in technology and research, to study devices and other technology that could provide alternatives to drugs for pain and fight withdrawal symptoms. The move is an effort to fight the state’s opiate and heroin addiction epidemic.
The governor again used his speech to promote his proposals in his last two-year budget proposal. Despite the fact that the General Assembly is controlled by fellow Republicans, he faces push-back again on his tax-reform plan to raise sales, cigarette, and alcohol taxes and expand the sales tax to more professional services to underwrite another income tax cut.
“Many ask why I feel so strongly about reducing the income tax and reforming the tax code in light of the challenging budget circumstances we face,” Mr. Kasich said. “It’s simple. Without continued progress toward eliminating our income tax, Ohio will never be as competitive as we need to be. States with low or no income taxes have the strongest growth, because taxes and regulations matter to job creators.”
He also made a pitch for his plan to centralize collection of local taxes on business with the state Department of Taxation, a move he said would save businesses $800 million, but drew some criticism.
“I’m really disappointed that the governor persists in another example of state government usurping the power and responsibilities of local control,” said state Rep. Mike Sheehy (D., Oregon). “There’s no way that anybody would be more protective of the funds that belong to local government than the people in local government.”
In line with his arguments that social service programs should help to lift people out of the circumstances that make them eligible for help, Mr. Kasich gave one of his “Courage Awards” to Dan Rogers, president and chief executive officer of Cherry Street Mission Ministries in Toledo.
Cherry Street’s Life Revitalization Center provides food and shelter to those who need it and also job-training to help them get better jobs to provide for themselves. A recent $500,000 donation from Owens Corning will expand that to include basic carpentry training.
“If you are in Toledo and Lucas County and run out of hope, he brings them in,” Mr. Kasich said.
State Sen. Randy Gardner (R., Bowling Green) noted this is the first State of State on Lake Erie. It comes at a time when the state and its neighbors are trying to deal with harmful algal blooms and other water issues.
“This is the story of a city that’s been helped by some state grants and some state support, but mostly by the innovation, the energy, and the commitment of its community leaders,” Mr. Gardner said. “That’s also part of the message. ... There’s clearly more to do. We’ve made progress, but there is more to do to finish our work here.”
At the Sandusky Yacht Club, the state directors of taxation, natural resources, and the Ohio Development Services Agency participated in a round-table discussion about Lake Erie tourism, a huge industry for the eight Ohio counties that border the lake.
Tax Commissioner Joe Testa said tourism-related income taxes have gone up 19 percent in the last four years, generating $1 billion in the most recent year for the state.
“Relative to different industries, travel and tourism is a significant one,” he said.
Eric Wobser, city manager of Sandusky, said he heard nothing but positive feedback about the city’s readiness for the big speech.
“There’s a great number of people from Ohio who don’t know what it’s like to live on a Great Lake,” Mr. Wobser said. “The key will be how we follow up and leverage the opportunity. We made a lot of friends. What’s important is a recognition that protecting Lake Erie is important and investing in the destination economy and in small cities.”
A representative of the state’s Development Services Agency was given a tour of Hotel Rieger, a 1916 downtown hotel that, at five stories, is one of the tallest buildings in Sandusky.
The hotel had been vacant until it was restored in 2015 at a cost of $10.2 million, with a $1.8 million historic tax credit grant. Today it is housing for senior citizens.
“We restored it, but the developer lost a lot of money,” said Pat Torrence, a development consultant.
Among the officials visiting was former state Rep. Barbara Sears (R., Monclova Township), now director of Medicaid for Ohio. She met with Jobs and Family Services employees and other local service providers from Erie and Ottawa counties.
Ms. Sears said the Medicaid expansion that Governor Kasich implemented has contributed to a healthier population, helping them to get and keep jobs. The expansion added 700,000 to the rolls, and about 500,000 people have used behavioral and mental health services.
“That indicates the need out there that was not being met,” Ms. Sears said.
Mary Ann Groot of Sandusky, who teaches accounting in a local business college, protested outside the theater, carrying a sign saying, “Save the Lake.”
The Lake Erie Initiative is at risk, “so it may be up to the state to take care of our lake,” Ms. Groot said. “I’ve been trying to speak with all the legislators as they are walking by. Some have been very appreciative. Some have been nose up in the air, don’t give a care.”
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Here is a transcript of Gov. John R. Kasich’s State of the State Address in Sandusky on Tuesday, April 4, 2017:
GOVERNOR KASICH: Thank you very much. Well, I want to thank you, Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, and thanks to all the members of the General Assembly for bringing this joint legislative session to Sandusky and the shores of, of course, our great lake. For the people of the city that's about to celebrate 200 years of history with their bicentennial in 2018, I hope this session and all the events surrounding our visit here will go down as one more historic event for Sandusky to be remembered for years to come. We love being here. With that in mind, I want to give special thanks to the people of Sandusky and Erie County, local officials, law enforcement, the community leaders – had a beautiful visit at the Boys & Girls Club today, that was great -- who've laid out the red carpet for us. (Applause) And, of course, to our hosts here at the historic State Theatre. Everybody would say, “wow” to this theater. For those who don't live here, how about a round of applause for what they have here. (Applause) I hope you'll welcome our Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor. Mary, stand and give a wave, will you? (Applause) And the members of my Cabinet and staff who are with us this evening, they've been out, about in the community all day. And one of the traditions of the State of the State is for the Cabinet to get out and listen and learn about the things that we can do to help. Would the Cabinet just stand for a second and recognize a little applause from the people that are here tonight? (Applause)
I have to tell you, I've been in love with Ohio's north coast and this part of the state for a long, long time. You see, when I was a kid, my mom and dad used to pack up the car and we would drive up to Vermilion, not far from here. We'd leave.... (Applause) There we go. We'd leave Pittsburgh and we'd drive. Some of you heard me say this before. We would cross into Ohio. And my uncle Harry who was always with us, he'd turn to me and look at me and he'd say, “Johnny, we've reached the promised land.” That's how I thought about Ohio. I have so many good memories of summers here on the lake. Of course, this region continues to generate good memories for hundreds of thousands who come here for the recreation, the resources, and the hospitality Lake Erie coast is known for. And Sandusky is at the heart of it. I want you to know that I detoured today -- maybe even broke a law -- but I went over to Cedar Point to look at the rollers coasters. I want you all to know that. (Applause) And we’re investing a lot in our lake -- Randy Gardner is always on top of that – and our coastal resources to make the water cleaner and keep it that way. About two and half billion dollars have been invested in Lake Erie since the start of the Administration. Yes, we want to make it cleaner, and we aim to keep it clean. And I hope those that come after me will realize this is the great, great jewel of the state of Ohio, and that's the great Lake Erie.
We also gave a $1 million grant that we announced here yesterday to the city so they could work to restore wetlands in the Sandusky Bay that filter pollutants, and they make Lake Erie cleaner. I hope you like that. (Applause) These are investments in water and natural resources, the quality of life, but of course they’re also an investment in economic growth because we know that when we take care of the world around us it becomes another reason for job creators to want to put down roots here and want to grow. As I've said many times before throughout my career, our greatest moral purpose as governmental leaders is to create an environment of job creation in which people can have work, in which people can support their families. And I can think back just a short six and a half years ago, and some of you, you know: Bill Batchelder who's here on the video, Tom Niehaus, Keith Faber, who sits out here, these were the leaders, Cliff and Larry. We'd lost 350,000 jobs. That's, you know, like -- that's filling Ohio Stadium, you know, three, four -- three times, plus. We had an $8 billion deficit, and I went to New York to the rating agencies and they said, “We're going to tear up your credit cards.” I said, “Give us a chance.” Now, this is old news to many of you, but I'm saying it again because we do have members of the legislature here who never went through that experience. And you remember that experience. It was tough. It was trying, and we came out stronger. Now we are up 460,000 new jobs in our state. (Applause)
And we're working to create a more diversified economy. Why? So that when one sector goes down in a tough economic time, another sector can lift us up. It's called diversification, and we really do believe in it. Now, manufacturing and agriculture, of course, they matter. They're two cornerstones of our state, but they're changing as well. Look at the auto industry. Engines and transmissions are more powerful, durable, and efficient -- more efficient than ever. And we'll talk about autonomous vehicles in a moment. In aviation, breakthroughs are making jet engines quieter and cost less to operate, and think about GE down in Cincinnati making those engines. It's pretty awesome. And in agriculture, you all know up here farmers are using the latest research so food scientists can meet the demands of a growing population around the world. The world's job creators know that we in Ohio make things. That's why they're turning to us for their future success and they're using new technologies and innovations that dramatically change the way that products are made. Just down the road in Norwalk, the German auto parts maker Borgers has spent $60 million on a new state-of-the-art plant that will create jobs for more than 230 workers, earning $8 million in payroll. And near Dayton, the giant Chinese auto glassmaker Fuyao transformed an abandoned car factory. The auto company left. It was an old factory. And now Fuyao has gone in and transformed that operation and they now employ more than 2,000 Ohioans, who supply all the major automakers with advanced glass. This is great news for us. (Applause) And you know Amazon: Amazon Prime, Amazon Now, Amazon cloud computing. It's just amazing. They’re an amazing innovator, combining highly trained workers and best-in-class processes, and they're turning retailing inside-out. They have three cloud computing operations in the United States, three operations in the whole country. They've got one on the West Coast out in Seattle, one on the East Coast in Virginia, and the third one is located right here in the good old state of Ohio. A major cloud-computing operation. (Applause) And our universities are now beginning to train people; our community colleges are training people for those cloud-computing jobs. Now, here's what's really astounding that I'm sure most don't know. Amazon Now has hired 6,000 Ohioans to work in their operations, and we believe with more to come. That's looking towards the future. We have Explorys. Explorys is a fast-growing leader in the health data analytics field. Data analytics: we study stuff and we know what works. You get knee surgery, we know if you get a shot in that knee, you’ll heal faster than if you don't. They use data to figure out the ways in which to best treat people. It was a start-up operation at the Cleveland Clinic and was purchased by IBM Watson. Here's the beauty of it. Instead of IBM Watson trying to move this operation out of Ohio, they're planning it right here. They're not going anywhere. They like what they see in Ohio. There's Cardinal Commerce, a leader in financial technology and digital commerce that just opened a new headquarters in Mentor. And Interstate Chemical, which is investing more than 50 million in a new plant in the city the Oregon, not too far west of here. I don't know if anybody's here from there. And Alkermes, a pharmaceutical manufacturer, and what they’re doing is growing its business right where Cliff is from, the speaker, and what they're doing is developing products to battle addiction worldwide.
These job creation stories and more like them demonstrate the way our state, with JobsOhio’s support, is attracting businesses of the 21st century from a range of different industries. Now, think about it. Not just agriculture, not just making things, but it's across the board. That's what's given strength and resilience to our state. How did we do it? Folks, some of it can be viewed as boring. We had to stabilize our budget within existing resources. You see, we reassured job creators that Ohio knows how to fix problems itself. We don't need to go and impose anything on them. We can deal with our problems. We cut income taxes. We eliminated income taxes for almost every small business in the state. They're the engines of job growth. And, Keith Faber, I want to thank you for that. Eliminating the taxes on small business helps them all, just like the place where I had some great fish right here in Sandusky earlier today. We want them to have a power to expand. (Applause) We streamlined regulations, committed ourselves to constantly improving job training, which is a big, big deal. So job creators can have the workforce they need and Ohioans can take advantage of all the new opportunities coming our way. Now, look, people think: the State of the State, you just get up and say things -- falsehoods and you just puff yourself up. That's not my purpose here tonight. I'm really here tonight to talk about where we were, where we've gained, and where we're going. Last fall, a survey of CEOs named Ohio one of the ten best places to do business. Last fall. That's 34 places higher than we ranked in 2010. So when they start looking around the country about where we’re going to create a business, we went from 34th to one of the top ten businesses. Forbes ranked us the 11th best state for business. That's up from 38th. So we went from 11th with Forbes, from 38th just five years ago. And there have been other good ratings, like the one from middle market executives – that’s sort of middle-sized companies -- that placed us first in growth in the country. And this is all great, of course, but we can't stop now. The Midwest is ripe for investment. It's ripe for development. It's ripe for growth. And Ohio is at the center of it. The only thing that can hold us back is if we sit on our hands or stop and rest. I heard somebody talking: “Oh, you know, so much has been done. Can't we take a break? Can't we slow down?” Yeah, if you want to lose. We cannot slow down. This is the 21st century. We've got to put our foot on the gas. And I can guarantee you because I know other states see our success, and they want it. So staying on the right track means keeping up the same energy that got us here and building on the ideas that we know work. Conservative budgeting, even in these tight times. More tax reform. More work to streamline regs, more progress on connecting education and our workforce training with job creators. Get them trained for what's coming. These are all critical to our future success. And, of course, our budget really reflects things on every one of these fronts. Now, folks, we have to protect our hard-fought fiscal stability again. It's priority number one in the budget. I used to be a legislator. I know there are a lot of demands and a lot of needs. But, you know, if we do not hold the line on spending, I will tell you that we'll get crushed economically.
And I'll tell you something. I appreciate what all of you have done. I deeply appreciate it. I mean, I can't tell you how much. I'm not running for anything. Okay? I'm just thanking you as the executive of this state, because what I know is that when the state revenue fell below what we'd already projected because we had conservative projections, we didn't go in the hole. Do you know how many states have been in the hole? Do you know how many states that have had a cut? And it has not been easy, but we're managing. I work with Larry and I work with Cliff, and we have kept spending in check. It's a reminder that challenges can always lurk around the corner. So we have to always hold the line on spending. That's more true in this budget than it's really been in a number of years. The revenues have grown slowly, even though we have conservative projections. The way that we respond to these challenges, of course, it shows the world that we can take it, that we can navigate rough waters. And it's a beacon. It's a beacon. When we can do our job and keep it together and do the right thing, people around the country -- and believe me, I was just in Europe -- around the world, they say: “you folks have it.” We like what you're doing. A lot of you ask, “Okay, Kasich, you know, we never get thanked when we reduce the income tax. Now you want to reform the tax code and you want to have some go up and the income tax go down. Why?” Well, I'll tell you why. You look at the states across this country that have the fastest economic growth. They either have no income tax or very low income taxes. It matters. It matters to what people are going to pay. So we're never going to be as competitive as we need to be if we don't keep paying attention to this, but we can. But we also need to reform our convoluted municipal tax system. Our tax department estimates that job creators could save $800 million if, in fact, we can reform this municipal tax system. That's $800 million that can be put back into those companies to grow and to hire. And by the way, it adds nicely to 5 billion in tax cuts that we've had in our legislature during this administration. That's more than any state in the country. More than any state in the country. And, then, you know what? We also cut the Workers Comps and made refunds to businesses across the state and schools and local governments: $5 billion. I mean, it's amazing, you know? (Applause) I don't want anybody coming and complaining, but when I was running, that's all they talked about, how bad the Workers' Comp system was. Now we've been able to rebate 5 billion, and I've got a sneaky suspicion that the Workers' Comp Board is going to pass another billion in rebates, some of which is going to go to local governments and schools in tough times. And it’s a great story for our state. We want to know what you think. You know, we've got a budget over there. You've got ideas. They're better ideas than we have, we're for it. But let's please get this municipal tax burden passed so we can, in fact, help these businesses. The barrier to these reforms and many of the others we achieved together in the past seven years at the age-old fear of change. In a rapidly changing economic environment, in the digital age, in the age of worldwide markets, we can't do what we used to do. We have to anticipate and meet change head on because if we hesitate, the future will pass us by. And we must leverage change to our advantage, and that means takings risks.
When we think about Ohio and our success in the previous century, wasn’t it because we were risk takers. Think about it. It's why we are, who we are today. We were at the center of the Industrial Revolution, because so many dove headfirst into new ideas, Think about this, the Industrial Revolution, new ideas about what to make and how to make it. And they accepted no limits on how they could go. It was all about risk taking, and we don't need to go any further than just down the road, because I just saw that Thomas Edison freeway, Milan -- perfect example of what we're talking about. Thomas Edison. He was our guy. He wasn't just a brilliant and creative innovator -- the guy took risks. He never gave up. He put everything he had on the line. Well, what do you think Edison would be working on today? Think about it. How about the Wright brothers? You know all that Kitty Hawk nonsense. All they had was wind and sand. Okay? (Laughter) All the innovation occurred in Dayton, Ohio. Those Wright brothers were great. (Applause) And they tell me, you know, you should all read the book about the Wright brothers by David McCullough. Nobody paid any attention to them. They're down in Dayton flying airplanes. My mother said when she was a little girl they'd run out of the house to look at airplanes. The guy from the Dayton Daily News told me when they went out and saw it, they put it on page 13. Must not have been bad news. Think about the Wright brothers and Edison. Look, folks, you learn from history. They launched entirely new industries. It was unbelievable.
And their inventions and innovative technologies led to new jobs and prosperity for generations. And not just in America. All over the globe. The new Edisons and Wright brothers, they're out there. Some of them might be right here tonight. And we need to find them and encourage them. That's why I've proposed creating a chief innovative officer for Ohio to help keep us ahead of the curve in a world where technology is changing faster and more profoundly than ever. This person will lead a new Ohio Institute of Technology. We’re not expanding the government, we can rearrange it and make things work better. That person will mine our strengths, coordinate our resources, and always looking ahead to what's coming next. Whether it's advanced materials, the latest in biotechnology, aerospace, robotics, sensors, and others areas that we haven’t even thought about. We have a lot of research in Ohio. It's not coordinated, it's not put together, it’s not focused. We have such a great opportunity to create new things here in the 21st Century. If we come up with these ideas, they can change our world in the very new future. Let me tell you about cars. Cars are going to look very different inside. Just buckle up. You won't touch the controls because there isn't going to be a steering wheel or any pedals. Do you know this is coming? This is within a decade. Traffic deaths will fall dramatically if not disappear. You know why? No more drunk driving, distracted driving. We may decide not to own our own cars since we'll be able to order them up on demand whenever we need one. We will only drive our car ten percent of the time. Think about. You don't drive your car all the time. So you drive your car. It's fully autonomous. Somebody wants to rent your car. You send the fully autonomous vehicle to them. They pay for renting your vehicle, which you use to pay your car bills. And at the end when they're done, they send the car back and you go home. This is coming. I mean, this is just amazing and exciting.
One of the places that we won't visit as often: the grocery store. You know, now you go to Amazon – right now – their delivering things from the grocery store, but drones are going to be delivering our groceries and maybe even a hot fresh pizza right to our door steps. Anybody ever seen the Jetsons? (Laughter) But let me also tell you, drones are going to help our farmers better manage their crops. Am I right, farmers? You're going to get out in that field and figure out how to fertilize and manage your crops better because of drones. Firefighters, they're going to be able to more safely battle fires. And ODOT inspectors that hang off these bridges won't have to do it anymore. They'll have an assist from a drone to allow them to do what they need to do without putting themselves in danger. And that's just the beginning of drones. Big data will lead us to better healthcare – like at the Cleveland Clinic. They find out what works and what doesn't. It's almost like personalized medicine. It is so cool because you don't have to waste time and keep coming back. Think about the Cleveland Clinic, think about technology. That's what big data is all about. Using big data will help us unlock the answers to things like infant mortality. Why does it happen? Drug addiction. What is the pattern that leads people into using drugs? We can even use big data to tackle education challenges. We can understand what triggers dropouts. Why do we have truancy? Why do we have reading problems? I'm over there at that Boys and Girls Club and I'm looking at those people – and I have big dreams for them. Maybe we can help them if we can figure out to keep them on the right path, by looking at facts and figures and data and patterns.
Advanced sensors also hold great promise. We're already using them. For some with disabilities, the basic act of taking a morning shower – you have somebody who's autistic that's in a group home – if they don't get a shower in the morning, you ask John Martin, he's one of the great, great people in our Cabinet. He runs the Department of Developmental Disabilities. (Applause) Here's what we do. He takes these sensors and they put them in the showerhead. When the shower doesn't come on in the morning, the caregivers and the family hear. And they go and they make sure that the person living in that group home is okay. We had a lady who was living in a home. It cost us $147,000 a year to watch her because she used to run off. We didn't know why. John Martin, he figured out, let's put some technology in this place, and he did. And when the woman has trouble, either through a sensor or some video, we find out about it. She doesn't run away anymore. We've reduced the cost of taking care of that woman from $147,000 down to $47,000. There's no limit to what we can do. Now, folks, when I talk to my friends in the technology area – and I know a lot of them – they marvel about what's coming. I talk to them about it all the time. But they also caution about the dramatic impact all of this will have on today's industries and workers. I was in Europe. I went over to the Munich conference, but then I met with people like the Siemens CEO who's an investor in our state. I met with companies there and in London. I heard the same things from business leaders all across Europe. The message was the same and clear. Please listen to me. The dramatic change is coming.
Assembly lines and their workers will see even more changes from robotics. You know the number one occupation in America is a driver. What do you think is going to happen when we're confronted by the reality of self-driving trucks? The entire automobile supply chain workforce will face changes from internal combustion to the electric motor. Folks, this is coming. Make no mistake, this change will affect not just blue-collar jobs. Insurance adjusters, stockbrokers, they may be impacted by artificial intelligence. Who knows, maybe in the General Assembly we'll be replaced by robots. You just never know. (Laughter)eope And maybe the governor as well. (Laughter) The bottom line for almost everybody in almost every profession is this. Mothers and fathers, grandfathers and grandmothers, please, brothers and sisters, legislators, if we aren't prepared for change, people are going to find themselves out of work. Change is coming, whether we like it or not, so let's accept the change, but reject the fear and the hesitancy and the unwillingness to prepare. We must get ahead of this coming tsunami. We have to act and not react. We don't want to fall behind the curve. So it leads to this question. I want you to ponder this for a second. Can education and business come together, see change as an opportunity, and help Ohio succeed in the coming brave new world? Are we preparing our kids for what's coming? Business, education, government, all of us, we all need to start thinking about what new jobs are going to exist, and which ones will change. And, yes, which ones might go away. And plan together for how we will help Ohioans of all ages continue to succeed in their careers. To that end, I'm announcing tonight that we're creating a task force. When I hear governmental leaders say they're going to create a task force, we say wake me up when they get done with their report. But ours have been working and we’re bringing a variety of industries together that will work with leading educators to look into the future, try and think about what's coming, what we might lose, what we might gain, and how do we get ourselves ready for this? Frankly, I think we'll be ahead of most of the country. And they will outline what Ohio needs to do to prepare our people for the coming changes so that we can make the future an opportunity rather than an obstacle. The need to leverage this coming future is why we're already moving. We're embracing autonomous vehicles, smart roads, drone technology, to be able to fly a drone out of the line of sight. Data analytics to chart a more effective course, sensor technology, and improve cybersecurity. We're in a great position to capitalize on these advances. Think of the research centers. How about the Plum Brook Station – NASA's Plum Brook Station right here in Erie County, and the Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, which is a gem and, of course, our universities. We can get them to coordinate the research. Here's something most of you don't know. We have the Transportation Research Center in central Ohio. It's the most advanced independent automotive testing facility on the continent. And our capital city beat out all the others to be the hub for intelligent transportation through the Smart City initiative helping us move Ohio into the pole position for the future of smart mobility.
We also rank high among all the states for the quality and maintenance of our highway infrastructure. You saw Mr. Szollosi talking about this. Many states have fallen behind in highway repairs and improvements. We have invested $14 billion on more than 7,000 projects since 2011. That doesn't mean anything until you accept this. (Applause) It's an increase of more than $3 billion and nearly a third of what we might normally put into infrastructure. And this has made it possible for us to free up resources, take us to the next level with new investments in these smart highways. You put the fiber in the highways and autonomous vehicles get guided by the fiber we're putting across the state, and then you have sensors so that the cars can talk to one another. We're getting ahead. The Transportation Research Center is a little village, 4,500 acres where they can come and experiment and test with a test track. We've put money into that. So has Ohio State University. So has Honda. This is exciting. It's the future. You ought to go there. We'll get you a ticket to get entrance, if you want to go down there and take your kids. It's cool to see. Why did it happen? Well, you know, Matt Szollosi kind of talked about it. What I wanted to do, I wanted to create some bonds against tolls from the turnpike. When I mentioned the turnpike, everybody freaked out. This should have been done like 30 years ago. So what we did is we issued debt, and retired the Ohio Turnpike frequently are basically held harmless in terms of higher tolls. So all these people that use our stuff, come into our state and leave, they pay for this. And it's given us $3 billion more in infrastructure. We've moved projects that would be done 20 to 25 years from now into the ten-year window, some into the five-year window. It’s been amazing and we're about to go issue more debt. Look at our infrastructure, look at our roads. Go drive in another state. And, give us a call. People now just want to drive around in Ohio. That's what it's getting to. So this thing really worked for us. It took my partners in legislature. It took courage on the people that lived in this area because everybody was uptight about this but it worked. Transportation, manufacturing, agriculture, all these things that make Ohio what it is today, it will be changed in fundamental ways. But perhaps the most profound effects of technology will be seen in education, in the ways that Ohioans of all ages prepare for rapidly changing workforce needs. That means education for a lifetime – for a lifetime – constantly being educated and retraining. We have to get ourselves and our kids ready to take on the jobs of the future. And that requires change in our education systems, and we cannot let education get in the way of learning. We cannot let education get in the way of learning. (Applause) Are we preparing our kids for what I've been talking about? Do you think we're ready? I don't think so. I did recognize a number of Ohio schools for their innovative work. One of them was Cristo Rey. This is unbelievable. They partnered with local businesses and provided work experience for all their students. They basically create these interns. They get businesses to put these kids in. It starts in the very early years. The kids get paid. They are a constructive group of kids. We have some of them working in the government. They're working in industry. And they're not wealthy kids. They learn what it's like to be in a professional environment. They get excited about it, and they begin to prepare themselves for any environment because they begin to develop resilience. It's exciting.
In Marietta, you know that they begin exploring careers with students starting in kindergarten. This one lady down there, she's a saint. She went and put this whole program together, disrupted everything. You know what she does? When kids are very little, she starts getting them to imagine what they want to be based on what turns them on. And they're out there and they're working and the businesses are involved and the community is involved. We need more of it. There are other simple initiatives. Now, look, folks, I come up with a couple things. This is what gets everybody worked up. First of all, I want to make sure that our teachers, when they go for their relicense, that they spend a few days working in a business, learning about the workforce needs of the community. I don't want them to go in the military. I just want them to spend a few days at the bank, at the insurance company, at the doctor's office learning about the workforce. Everybody's all up in arms about this. Come on, folks. Look at what's coming. All I want is our teachers to be more in touch with the workforce needs of their students. We love our teachers. We don't want to overburden them, but when they go to get relicensed, let's get them out there a little bit. And I think it would really make a big, big difference for people. And I want to put -- here's another one. Now, maybe we can't find three business people. I don't know. I want to put non-voting business people on the school board. Why? Because I want the non-voting business people to start telling the school board about what the curriculum ought to look like, about how we can have flexibility, about how we can have more kids out into the workforce. We need to get them out with the people who do the hiring. So these are just two simple, tiny little things that I think we need to get done. And I've talked to members of the legislature, and they've got some ideas. They said, look, you got better ideas? We'll do it. But we have to make sure that we create a flexible school system. And I'm with all of you. There's too much testing of these kids all the time. We keep working on it. Okay? (Applause) That doesn't mean no testing. We've got to find out what they're learning. But also getting them out there with Steve Wilson with his bank, when he was running that bank out there before he got into politics, that would have been a great experience. I hope think kids need to see this. Universities, they're going to be a thing of the past if they're not careful. Rising costs are not sustainable. People are not going to pay this. Costs of operation, the way those costs are reflected in what students and parents have to pay. I want to give a shout out to Dr. Drake at Ohio State. He bundled up all of his industry energy operations and he leased them out for a 50 years. He's getting a half a billion dollars up front that he's going to use it for scholarships. Why? He's thinking differently. Our universities and colleges need to embrace technology and new ways of learning that can help bring these costs under control. These community colleges, they rock. I'm telling you. They get it. Okay? (Applause) They've teamed up with Western Governors University. It's an online college that allows students to play a single, flat, low rate and move along at their pace while getting credit for what they demonstrate that they already know. There are four specialties. You can go there and get an online degree for a fraction. Georgia Tech – I think AT&T worked with Georgia Tech. We're bringing AT&T into the state to help work with us. You can get a master's degree in computer science, entirely online, not a minute in the classroom, for you know how much? $6,000. Now, I asked our universities to do this. I didn't get very far with them, but I got the community colleges working on it. The other day at Amazon, I was with the president of Columbus State and I said, I don't want any delay. What Amazon wants here for training people, I don't want any bureaucracy, red tape, obstacles, and they're going to go into southern Ohio and get kids down there trained to do jobs with Amazon for a lot of money. Look, we can give kids a good education for a lot less. And things they can do. This Georgia Tech thing, these people do this in their own home. I understand. We go to college, we want to have that real college experience. And that will be developed. We know socialization is really important for kids. But the costs are out of control. They're going to be disintermediated, these universities. A lot of education is going to go a different way. We've got to get ahead of this. Much needs to be done but it's not beyond our reach. I'm confident we can make these changes. Just take the risks. We have this executive workforce board made up of some of the legislators on this board, business people, labor, they all come together. They're the ones who came up with the idea of putting business leaders on the school board. They're thinking, they are helping, they're participating, and they're working. The improvements we've already achieved in economic development, of course, remind us that these big changes are possible and they can pay off. Not long ago, people looked at what we wanted to do with economic development and wondered if the reforms we proposed would work. Okay? So we created this economic development operation. It was moving at the pace of a snail. So we decided we needed to reform it. We created JobsOhio. We were one of the first states to create an economic development agency, but over time – well, the old development agency stagnated, so we created this because we want JobsOhio to move at the speed of business.
We have experienced, knowledgeable business experts working to create new jobs for Ohioans in Ohio and get Ohio where it needs to be, at the top of the list, when business leaders around the globe think of where they want to be. I spend a lot of my time talking with CEOs from some of the world's largest companies, and they want to know – how did you do this? How does it work? I just had a governor in another state call me up and ask me, how did you do JobsOhio? I moved to change the subject because I want us to keep winning. I don't want them to figure this out for a while. (Laughter) Now, as JobsOhio picks up momentum deepens its roots, I want you and members of the legislature to know that they need deeper relationships with you and the people in your districts. I want you to be able to go over there anytime you want to. They are there to work, to create the jobs, and to help you to have more success in your district. And I have suggested to them – and you know, when I suggest something, what I mean. I suggested to them that they get with this and work more with all of you. They are a great organization that is extremely powerful, filled with people that have the experiences. We've got 460,000 jobs since we've come in. So anyway, ensuring that we have the basics in place: fiscal strength, lower taxes, proper regs. It opens the door for us to sell our state across the nation and the world. Do you know what it was like to meet with the head of Siemen's? Do you know what it was like to meet with this tier-two auto company that I met in London? I said, "If you don’t come to Ohio you're making the mistake of your life." We are the place to be. We've got the people. We've got the smarts. We've got the work ethic. We've got everything, and we're managing everything. And I can say it because it's all true.
See, Ohio and the Midwest have a perfect opportunity to lead with the innovations of the future. Here's what the fact is. The West Coast, you sit in traffic for half of your life. It costs you a fortune to live there. Your bathroom is in your living room. And then if you live on the East Coast, go over there to New York and drive around sometime. See how it is. Send your kids there. Look at what they're paying for their apartments. You see, they're beginning to realize it's too expensive. I had a guy call me the other day from Los Angeles. He said I hired some engineers out here. He said, I've got to hire them in Ohio. This is driving me crazy. We have some natural things that really work for us. If we think about all of this, all the things I'm talking about, the challenges, the excitement and the hope – because that's what this all is – it’s so cool and it allows us to ratchet it up to the next level. We're not high enough. Up, up, up. One of the most critical needs for growing a workforce is healthy workers. That is why our administration and legislature have worked to make sure that those who live in the shadows or those who find themselves in tough times are not left behind. The expansion of Medicaid has brought health care to 700,000 people, one quarter of whom have chronic illness and one-third are struggling with mental illness or drug addiction. Expanding Medicaid has freed up expanded resources in our communities to help more period, people. (Applause) We've strengthened local hospitals. We're a healthier state. I'll just tell you something quickly. I was driving home the other night from the Highway Patrol Academy at Hudson and High. You legislators know where that is. There was a guy sitting on the corner. I thought he was combing his air with his hand. As I looked more carefully, he had a cigarette lighter in his hand and he was cutting his hair with this lighter. The guy that was driving the car – my friend that was driving the car, I looked at him and I said, that's your brother. He looked at me and said, he's my brother, too. That guy is all of our brothers. We can't ignore them. That's why I've spent so much time fighting over this health care, because I don't want to leave them behind. I don't want the drug addicted to be out somewhere. I don't want the mentally ill to be discarded, and I don't want those chronically ill to die because we couldn't get them care. And we're going to keep fighting on it. (Applause) Now, I go, I sit with these governors and these senators and congressmen. We don't need any of their money. We're not looking at this as a way to bail us out. Our Medicaid program, we need that money to keep helping people, but we don't need it to bail us out. Our Medicaid program is growing at a 3 percent. It's growing at a flat rate. It was 9 percent when we came in. I want to thank you for the reform of nursing homes and letting moms and dads be able to stay at home. We reduced the growth, and we're keeping it flat, but there's always more to do. This guy, Greg Moody, our director of Health Transformation, he's unbelievable. Now he's developing a system both with the Medicaid and with private insurers where they're going to start paying for performance. If a primary care doctor keeps you healthy, he or she is going to get a financial reward. We want transparency. We want to pay for results. We want to pay for excellence. All of that will lead to lower health care costs. They're going to follow this all over America because it's smart, it's right, it's compassionate, and it works. And thank you, Greg Moody, for what you've been doing in this whole area. (Applause) Quickly, welfare reform. Cynthia Dungey runs our welfare reform. Thanks to the legislature, we've been able to take 16 to 24 year olds. You get welfare, you stand in line, you get your food stamps, they check a box. You go over here, they check a box. We don't like that. Our 16 to 24 year olds, when they go in we will help them. But once we help them, we want to know what the problem is. We want to know how we solve your problem. We want to get you trained. We want you to get a job. Welfare without a path to work doesn't work. We want these people to have opportunity, and we want them to go to work. (Applause) When I'm gone, you've got to expand this thing. We can't have people just going in and people checking boxes. We have to bring back caseworkers, and we've got to get at the root cause of why people are stuck. Okay. Drug addiction. Seven years ago, I went down to southern Ohio. I wasn't even governor. And I met these ladies, and they walked in with these pictures. Well, who's on the picture? Beautiful young people – sons, daughters, football captain, cheerleader, whatever. I said, what's up, moms? They're all dead. We've got pill mills down here and they're passing these pills out. Ask Mike DeWine. He worked with me on this. They're passing out pills down here like they're going through the McDonald's for french fries. I said we will shut this down. How it operated all these years, I don't really understand. We shut the pill mills down. We put the crooked doctors in jail whenever we could. DeWine asked me to hold off and we went after them.
We moved the Highway Patrol into more aggressive interdiction to remove illegal drugs. Here’s the understanding about Ohio. Why is Ohio at the epicenter of all this? It's location. The same location, 600 miles within 60 percent of the country. Okay? That helps us get employment, but, you know, it's only a day from Mexico and the drug cartels. Believe me. Talk to the patrol. It's only a few hours from Chicago. We're an artery and the patrol is busting and trying to make it so expensive that these cartels and these drug dealers aren't going to come here anymore. They had their largest seizure of heroin, meth and prescription pills last year and it's going up and up. When you see them sitting in the center of the highway, they're not sitting there to give you a ticket. You're going 30 miles an hour over the speed limit, you're in trouble. But that's not why they're there, to catch you going five miles an hour. You know what they're doing out there? They're looking because we've learned what the techniques are of the drug dealers, and they catch them. Men and women in the Highway Patrol do an incredible job. And they've got to keep it up. (Applause) So, we were one of the first states to create prescribing guidelines for doctors. Don't be giving all this stuff. We linked our medical providers into our pharmacy system to slow doctor shopping, and the first time we're registering pharmacy technicians. In the beginning we needed guidelines. You can go and try to write a law. You know what happens if you go too fast, you create an access issue. For those that are chronically ill, we're not out to take your medication away. You've got to understand that. But you're more closely watched by your physician. We started to study, what are we getting? How's it working? We expanded access to the overdose reversal drug for first responders and the families, and we created StartTalking!
Do you know what this is all about? Talk to your kids. Talk to somebody who's not your kid. Just talk about it. Fifty percent less likelihood if somebody would do drugs, opiates, that's how they start. I tell you what I worry about, the people I love. These young kids, they go to school, and then all of a sudden there's a party and somebody says, hey, let's go in the back, they've got a bowl of pills. That's the moment of truth. We've got to love our kids and talk to them about this. The answer is no, I don't want to be cool by taking drugs. That's what we're trying to do with StartTalking! We spent nearly $1 billion on this issue of drugs. Our work is paying -- look, it's paying off. A 20 percent reduction in opiate prescriptions. Doctor shopping has fallen by 80 percent. Doctor shopping – you go to this doctor, you go to that doctor, no more. You go to the pharmacy, and you ask the pharmacist what kind of things they're seeing now, and they will tell you they're seeing progress, but we're paying for the sins of the past. You see, but we haven't done enough. That's why I announced last week that Ohio is setting strict new mandatory limits. No more guidelines because we're comfortable with where we are now, but legal limits on how many opiates can be prescribed for acute medical customers. Seven days of opiates for adults and no more than five days for children. Seven for adults, five for children, no more. And many of these incidents, you will not be able to prescribe these drugs. (Applause) Let me tell you, one of the easiest things to do – I’ll give you a little bit of learning here. One of the easiest things to do is just go write a law. If we would have started with this, it would have created an access problem for so many Ohioans. Doctors would say, I'm not doing it. But we worked with them and the nurses and the dentists to get us to a point where we now understand the practice patterns of doctors. If you are not in the seven or the five day, you're practicing out of line. And you know what happens if you prescribe? If you're really doing it? We'll take your license. We're not fooling around on this. All the boards have gone along with this. And John Eklund is the person that wrote giving the boards the authority. We don't have to pass it through the legislature. We don't have to take our time. It is done. Done now. And it's going to pay off for everybody in this state. And remember - oh, by the way, these limits are more stringent than the recommendations issued by the CDC. And I've got to praise our physicians, dentists and pharmacists. Prescription opiates are often the gateway to heroin. As three-quarters of the overdose victims had previously been prescribed a controlled substance. By keeping these pills away, we can help the next generation. And, of course, addiction. It will eat anybody up, right? And we all know of this. Our partnerships in fighting this have to be absolute, across parties, which it is. Thank God we work together. Layers of government, branches of government, the private and public sector, whichever way you want to slice it. And by the way, in your community, you better find out everything what’s available. Because when we go into communities, people don't know all the things that are available. So meet, coordinate, work together -- commissioners, trustees, work together, and we'll work with you. The partnership that we talk about starts at home. Right at home. Right, Peterson? With your kids. Right where you are at the dinner table. It rises to our schools and communities. You know, it goes to our state government, our federal government. Everyone has a role to play. I want to thank Cliff and Larry and the members of the legislature because they've been on this. We've been total partners in this, and we're going to stay that way.
Now, here's a new thought. Even as we work together on this mission, do all this, drive our strategies at prevention and treatment and interdiction, we've got to have a new idea. I'm asking the Third Frontier Commission to provide up to $20 million to help bring new scientific breakthroughs to the battle against drug abuse and addiction. They're targeting existing, proven ideas and bring an extra push to be brought to the fight. Ideas like using a simple device that connects to someone's ear that can relieve pain and it blocks the effects of opiate withdrawal. You see, if you talk to the experts now, there are things that can work with the brain. If we can research and push -- that's why we're going to spend $20 million. And Dr. Rezai, one of the great pioneers of great development as most of you know up at Ohio State, he thinks it's great. The Cleveland Clinic -- maybe this is going to help us to really overcome this. I think the $20 million is going to be worth it. I'm excited. And I hope you're excited that we're thinking a little bit differently about all of this. (Applause) You know, the crisis of drugs continues to change, so our efforts to fight it will continue to change. Through thick and thin, we've got to stay unified, supporting one another. State government will be doing its part as well by providing our communities and educators and medical professionals and other partners with new tools to help them fight this epidemic. The ultimate partnership starts with each one of us. Me, you, all of us, with our children, neighbors, and everyone around us. We love our children. We care about our neighbors. So when you go to dinner, you see a kid, just tell him not to do drugs and destroy their life. Because they have a purpose for which the good Lord created them.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, as an American and Ohioan, I'm very concerned with how divided our country has become. One reason is that people increasingly only consume news and information that reinforces their own views. I'm sure that's no one in here. (Laughter) But I want to tell you, if you're conservative, you watch conservative television, read conservative editorials, and you listen to conservative talk radio. If you're a liberal, you listen to liberal television, read liberal editorials, and you go to the Huffington Post. (Laughter) That's what we do. And then we're all experts. We gave up bowling, we took this stuff up. Okay. (Laughter) But let me ask you a question. How can we ever learn new ideas or understand how to come together with Americans from different backgrounds unless we talk to one another and hear how others think? We’ve gotten to the point where so much of the time we think we know everything and whoever else doesn't think the way we think -- they're just dead wrong. That's not America. We've seen an extreme division in our political system. I will tell you that I think work has been done in our state to minimize that. I believe it. These are fine people. The leadership -- fine people. Of course, the Democrats get upset. When I hear from them, I go to Republicans and say, treat them right. We're trying as best we can to pull together. But, you know, across this country, there's rising polarization and inability for the political parties to work together. This is not acceptable, nor is it sustainable for the good of our country and the good of our children.
Somebody said, what do you do about it? Well, we're not going to throw away newspapers or turn off the television. I know we’re not going to do that. I tell you what I think we can think about. I believe one of the ways in which we can begin to address it -- the polarization -- is for people to find commonality in challenges that come before us. Fighting the scourge of drug addiction and death, that's not political. It's not limited to one party or one ideology or one philosophy. When somebody dies from a drug overdose, we all mourn. It's not limited to what position you take. We should fight together. Hunger in our communities, that's not liberal or conservative or Republican or Democrat. You go to Kroger, they say, would you like to round up? Round up to the dollar. You know why? Because the money goes to the food banks. That's at least what we do at our Kroger. And maybe even sometimes we take staff. We take time and we staff a food bank. Hunger knows no affiliation. I give a big shoutout to people that are out there raising money to buy coats for kids in the winter. That's not a Republican -- kids are cold. Kids are hungry. Families are out. We have to help them where we live. We read in the paper the death of a baby and the problem of infant mortality. That's all of us. That's shared humanity. We need to work to destroy this evil of infant mortality and help these moms to have a baby and birth a baby and make sure that those babies are going to thrive. We need to wipe out infant mortality. (Applause) When veterans come home, veterans, people that serve overseas and any of the veterans, they need a job. How can we have sky high veteran unemployment? What are we doing in our communities? We help our veterans. Everybody agrees with that.
And how about when somebody's getting old? You know, I was out -- you know, maybe you didn't all know this, but I ran for president -- (Laughter) And I was at this one town hall. For some reason I was in New Hampshire. I said, did anybody here lose a spouse? Guy raised his hand. I said, how long were you married? 60 years. When was the last time somebody took you out to dinner? It's been awhile. I will said, who's going to take you out to dinner tonight? Hands shot up. Our seniors, they need love, attention, maybe sometimes it isn't convenient for us, but we need to do it. You see, I think that if we can begin to address these problems, if we begin to deal with them where we live, solving these problems will bring us together, and it's up to us. If we begin to work together, we'll be surprised at how much progress we can make. We'll begin to solve some of this. We'll begin to start a dialogue that can pull our country back together, because it isn't going to come from top down. It's got to come from us up. That's the only way this is going to work. And working on these issues together in our community brings us together. We need it. And I'm not asking us to travel around the globe to achieve world peace or work great miracles, but simply one person at a time, right where you live, start to rebuild the foundation of our nation, and that foundation is our people and our communities and our neighborhoods. That's where America's greatness lies, with all of us, right here in Sandusky. (Applause)
I tried to call Bernice King today. Today is the 49th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King. I know Bernice King. She invited me to Atlanta on Martin Luther King Day. I took one of my daughters, and it was emotional. I was on this panel -- I was being interviewed, and there were a couple, two, three hundred people, almost all minorities in there. Somebody raised their hand and said, well, what about Trump? I said, what about Trump? Let's talk about Dr. King. Dr. King didn't go to the big shots. The politicians ran the other way. Racial divide was too hot for them. Fixing the problem of race was too difficult for them politically. So what did King do? He worked the neighborhoods. He worked the communities. And I said to this person that asked that question, how's your neighbor? You know, folks, we can't give up on this. I know sometimes the problems seem too big, but you know what? You save one life, you change the world. We can't wait around for some politician to show up, any of us, to fix all this. Issues like this will never be solved in the Statehouse alone, no matter how good our intentions are. The solutions have to start -- just what I said, I'm preaching now -- house, church, school, our town square. And when we begin to work together on local concerns we’ll begin to understand one another, respect one another, like one another and joke with one another again. And we’ll rediscover the shared humanity, and it opens our eyes and ears to the needs of others. We begin to heal communities. We see that pay off with the group we put together to strengthen community and police relations. A cross-section of people? That's an understatement. Law enforcement, community activists, community organizers, politicians, everybody on this panel. The chairmen -- the two co-chairmen of it, Nina Turner. Watch her on MSNBC. She'll be on tomorrow. And John Born, the head of the Highway Patrol. They came together. We are the leader in fixing the problem of police and community in this country. You know why? They sat. They listened to one another. They got it fixed. And wait until you read more about it. It's incredible. Sometimes I'm just amazed we got it done. Okay, folks. For all of this now. So now we've got to celebrate a few people who do a good job. We got this guy, Dan Rogers. He's one such person and an outstanding representative of thousands more like him across Ohio. Dan’s dedicated to serving the neediest and most vulnerable among us. I can imagine Dan getting up every day and he's fighting every day. I'll tell you who's watching, the lord. He's got a book of life and he's writing Dan's name in there. He leads this Cherry Street Mission Ministries. It's in Toledo. It started in 1947. A warm meal, a place to sleep, a message of hope. Toledo – Lucas County, if they've run out of hope and have nowhere else to go, he brings them in. Dan's work is a belief that his mission is to not just provide a safety net for broken lives, but also be a springboard for helping the hungry and homeless to reconstruct their lives with the job skills and self-confidence that leads to gainful careers. He's doing it with the Life Revitalization Center. And he has reconstructed lives with training for call centers, auto body, building trades. He's now moving into tool and die, welding, and the culinary arts. He gets people jobs, and more than 90 percent of them are still working who he places and he's got them on the right track. He deserves the Courage Award for what he's doing to change lives in Toledo and Lucas County. Where is he? (Applause) Okay. So everybody now is learning about human trafficking. Okay? So my wife told me about this guy. I mean, I kind of knew him, but not that well. He's a judge. And we have 36
our chief justice here. How about standing up, Chief Justice? Maureen O'Connor. Give her a round of Applause (Applause) I tell you something, I love the judge. Nobody can beat her. She runs -- I don't even know why people put their name on the ballot. She's remarkable, but here's what's great about her. No politics. She does -- she plays no politics. She goes out. She's out there on this -- she's out there on promoting this anti-drug business. She's a leader really in the Midwest. You're something, Judge. No more pay raises right now, though. Okay? No, I'm just kidding. (Laughter) So we have Judge Paul Herbert. Let me tell you about what happened. All these ladies are coming into his court. He's checking them out and putting them all in jail. They find out they've been human trafficked. They're prostitutes because they have a pimp who is out there putting them out on the street. Drugging them, beating them, all horrible things we can imagine. We heard Senator Kunze talk about this. So the judge is the founder and driving force in Franklin County's CATCH court. Changing Actions to Change Habits. He began to realize that these people were not criminals. They were really victim’s -- they were not defendants. They were victims. And they should not be subjected to criminal punishment and condemnation from which they may never recover. His CATCH court innovations diverts these victims into a two-year program that may include residential detox therapy, treatment for depression and other mental illness, they get an opportunity to get an education, they get a driver's license, and they can get help to find employment. I know they've got some food delivery operations that are just unbelievable. And best of all, when 37
they graduate, they have the opportunity to have their convictions dismissed and their records sealed. He has helped 200 women have the opportunity to get assistance. Now, when you're a judge, sometimes you're going to work the politics. Is he soft on crime? He didn't care. These women needed to be helped, and he -- come hell or high water -- he was helping them. And he has done it. And for that, I'm giving him a Courage Award. Judge Paul Herbert. (Applause) Now, okay. Got one more. One more. Okay? Damone Hudson. 24-year-old veteran bus driver. Kind of reminds me of my daddy that carried the mail. But he worked for the Greater Dayton RTA. So he's driving on his regular route. He's crossing a bridge. Over the Great Miami River. Have you ever been on those bridges? He saw a woman standing outside the bridge railing. She was going to jump. He stopped his bus, tied everything up. He didn't care. And he asked the woman to step away from the edge. He talked to her. And then he asked her, would you like a hug? Minutes later, the police arrived to help the woman to safety. He got back in the bus, went on his route. Here's the coolest thing. A security camera on the bus caught the exchange. The footage became an internet sensation. The whole world -- the whole world was aware of Damone Hudson's quiet act of compassion. It's an example of the difference just one person can make in the life of another. He saved a life. Who knows, he may have saved the world. But think about this guy. Think about us. He just took the time. He paid attention to somebody else and kept somebody from jumping off a bridge and taking their life. Imagine the family, maybe the kids, maybe the grandkids, the spouse, loved ones. Damone saved this person. You see, you don't have to cause a miracle or bring about world peace. 38
Damone is a guy that is a good example for all of us to make a difference. Damone, come on out. I can't wait to meet you. (Applause) I believe we work best when we believe in ourselves. It works best when we live a life a little bit bigger than ourselves. Etched in that wall of the Holocaust memorial, save one life, it's as if you've saved the world. I mean no problem is too big if we believe in ourselves. Love God and love your neighbor. Those are the two great commandments. The first one, love God. That means somebody greater and better than you. Love God. Love your neighbor. That's what brings out the best of us as human beings. You know, I went over there to that rollercoaster park. I mean, it's just unbelievable. And it's the thrill of Sandusky's famous rollercoasters. It's going faster and higher -- I don't know how you could go any faster or higher, but the machines only work when all the parts work together. Ohio's the same way. We can reach great heights, historic heights, but only if all of our state's pieces are working the right way. State government is just one of those pieces, and its role isn't to control or dictate but to serve. The state of our state remains strong. The state of our state remains stable, but holding on to the progress we've made takes continued vigilance. Challenges await and only by holding the line on conservative budgeting, fostering job creation and re-committing ourselves to helping each other along our journey will we succeed in the coming years. Ohioans, yeah, us, we make Ohio great. Government's job is to help support the environment in which they can do that and get out of their way. Right, Mr. Batchelder? Get the government out of the way and help them be successful. Help them and let them fly. 39
Let's keep going just like those rollercoasters, higher, faster, together. God bless America, and God bless Ohio. Thank you. (Applause)
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