Ohio Governor John Kasich on Ohio turning the corner
HH: Joined now by Ohio Governor John Kasich, and a very great start to the Christmas season to you, Governor Kasich, thanks for joining us.
JK: Well, always great to be with you. You know, Hugh, the thing I’ve got to tell you is I can remember when I wrote that book, Every Other Monday, how excited you were about it, and how much you did to get the word out about it. It was about my Bible study group, my every other Monday boys. And Hugh, you just did a fantastic job. And by the way, the book has just come out, it’s hard just to believe, in Chinese. It is being distributed in Taiwan right now.
HH: Oh, that’s remarkable.
JK: That’s pretty cool. Well, you know, you never know, you know? And it’ll work its way into China, and they’ll talk about the power of the Lord, and that’s just great stuff.
HH: How is the every other Monday group doing now that you’re the chief…
JK: Still together. Oh, I go. I still show up.
JK: I mean, if I didn’t stay with my faith, you know, you would be losing your moorings. So I go most of the time. And it’s not a big group, seven or eight of us, but we’ve been together a long time, and I always look forward to going. You know, you miss once in a while, but when I miss, I’m not happy about it. But you’ve got to have your priorities, and the priorities are every other Monday, unless there’s absolutely something that forces me to miss.
HH: Well, it’s a terrific book. It’s a great, by the way, Christmas present if people are out there shopping. That’s not why we scheduled this interview, but it’s a great reminder to people to go Google, or go to Amazon.com and look up Kasich and Every Other Monday, a great way to spend some Christmas season.
JK: Well, I didn’t meant to bring it up, and I’m not selling a book.
HH: I know, I know. I just…but it’s a great idea. It just occurred to me. I’m at Regent University today, and so it’s on my mind anyway.
JK: Oh, I was in a debate down there. I was down there with Dick Armey and Arianna Huffington and Howard Dean. I was down at Regent University, and it was really, I don’t know if you’re participating in their program, but it was an awful lot of fun. I really enjoyed it.
HH: I was here a month ago for that, and I came back, and happened to be passing through, and they lent me their studio, and it’s wonderful. Hey, Governor, I want to congratulate the state of Ohio on Urban Meyer. This is big news, and I don’t know, when you campaign for re-election, you’d better claim credit for it.
JK: (laughing) Well, it’s a big deal. But I have to tell you, we’ve had our troubles at Ohio State. And we have a guy named Luke Fickell who was the interim coach. And he did a terrific job. He kept the people focused on that big game, where Ohio State played that team up north. The guy’s got good character, he did a great job, and he’s actually, I think, going to stay with the team as a defensive coordinator. And we’re excited to have Urban Meyer. He does have Ohio roots. He’s from Ashtabula. His wife apparently was a beauty queen somewhere, Ross County or somewhere. And we’re pleased to have him. But you know, Hugh, the thing that I’m pleased about with Ohio State is the academic programs have really taken off. And so people think about us as a football school, but really not. We have good football, great basketball. We just destroyed Duke yesterday in a basketball game.
JK :But our academics are really flowering. And so it’s pretty darn exciting.
HH: It’s a great university. I’m just happy he’s from Ashtabula. All four of my grandparents are from there. He went to St. John’s High School where my cousins teach, and it’s just a great thing to have him in Ohio and coaching the Buckeyes. All right, Governor, here’s, I want to talk politics with you.
JK: Let me tell you some good news…
HH: Go ahead.
JK: …in addition to Urban Meyer, that’s good, but since January, we are now up net over 40,000 jobs in the Buckeye state. Over the last four years, we lost 400,000. Over the last six years, about 600,000. And Hugh, I think we’re starting to get our sea legs back. I mean, we have a long way back, but you know, our credit rating has approved. When S&P downgraded the U.S., they took us off negative watch and improved the credit outlook. We just did a bond deal the other day. Fitch, which put the U.S. on negative watch, has our bonds rated as high as they can be, which means that we have good credit. Our budget is balanced. We have a quarter of a billion in our rainy day fund. We’ve killed the death tax. We’ve lowered the income tax. And we have a tax credit for, a 10% tax credit, for investment in small business. And you’ll be really shocked to hear this, Hugh. You know, first of all, I announced about a week ago, two weeks ago, 1105 new jobs at Chrysler, over in Toledo, and then I went over to Loraine, Ohio, and announced 450 new jobs in a steel plant called Republic Steel. Is that amazing?
HH: Wow, Republic hasn’t been doing anything for like 25 years. That is amazing.
JK: Yeah, so it’s an investment, believe it or not, from a conglomerate in Mexico. And they’ve now invested in Ohio. And you just should have seen how fantastic it was to be from Loraine. And look, manufacturing is coming back, and I think we’re starting to see it in Ohio. We may have a big shale play out in the eastern part of the state, your old stomping grounds. As a result of that, we’ve got V & M Star Steel, investments, big employment. We’re starting to see pipe companies. There’s been about a couple billion dollars invested into the land over in the eastern part of the state.
JK: So there’s a lot of good things. The sun’s starting to come out, but you know, it’s a long road back.
HH: Well, it requires as well a federal government that knows what it’s doing. And that brings me to the politics. It looks like a two person race between Governor Romney and your old colleague and leader, Newt Gingrich. And I’m curious, Governor, are you going to endorse someone? And B) strengths and weaknesses of Newt, whom you know so well.
JK: Well, I’m probably not going to get into any endorsement. And Hugh, look, I mean, my focus really is, and I hate to say this, and I’m not trying to avoid this, look, first of all, I like Newt. I worked with him, we got the budget balanced. He’s a good man. I’m excited about the fact that he’s had a second life here in this whole thing. And that’s all good. Everybody that I wanted to have run, by the way, from Haley Barbour to Chris Christie, every time I supported somebody, they dropped out. So I’m probably just going to keep my mouth shut. But to be honest with you, Hugh, I don’t have a lot of time to think about all this politics, because there’s too much to do inside the state. And you’re right. I would like not to have a headwind from the federal government. But my goal is to do the best I can do to outperform the federal government. And I think that’s possible. I’m at the Republican Governors meeting down here, and I mean, let’s face facts. They can’t seem to get anything done in that town. And I believe that the changes in America are really going to come from the states. And that’s why I think it’s so important the kind of executives that we elect. And I focus on that a lot, too. And in Ohio, the most important thing for me is to keep the legislature full of conservatives, with the Republicans holding the House and the Senate. I will get involved somewhat in the presidential, but priorities are priorities, right?
HH: Last question, we’ve got a minute. Obviously, the economy is job number one. But you did some education reforms that are under attack now. Are you going to be able to hang on to those?
JK :No, no. We don’t have any, I don’t know of any education reforms under attack. We created 60,000 school vouchers or scholarships. We have taken the lid off of charter schools. No, I don’t think any of that is under attack. We are moving forward with a program to do teacher evaluation, to try to measure how a student is doing from year to year. No, I think we’re fine there, Hugh. I think…but look, the future for me is real simple. We need to train our workers for jobs that exist, we need to graduate students from our universities and not just enroll them, but graduate them. We need to make sure that our K-12 system is getting our young people excited. We need to get our community colleges up and running. We’ve got to stop bad mouthing vocational education. And look, I’m on the phone all the time with CEOs, trying to make sure they understand that Ohio is open for business and job creation, which will help our families and our children.
HH: Governor John Kasich, always good to catch back up with you. Thank you, Governor.
End of interview.