Text of Gov. Ted Strickland’s State of the State speech, as prepared:
Speaker Budish, President Harris and Chief Justice Moyer. President Harris and Chief Justice Moyer will both be retiring at the end of this year. This is their last State of the State as public officials and I want to thank them for their service to Ohio. Leader Batchelder and Leader Cafaro, Lt. Governor Fisher, statewide elected officials, members of the Cabinet, and a special word of thanks to Director Terry Collins who is retiring after 33 years of service to the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, members of the General Assembly and the Supreme Court, distinguished guests, First Lady Frances Strickland, and my fellow Ohioans...
I believe in Ohio.
I believe in Ohio because you can't write the history of the world without us without flight, without light, without Rock and Roll, without professional football, without John Glenn in space and John Glenn on the Earth, without the tomato, without the underground railroad, without Roy Rogers, without tires and ignition switches, without the humble fly swatter, without the Richter Scale, without Jesse Owens running for gold and for all of us in Berlin, without street lights, without fire departments, without Superman.
I believe in Ohio because Ohio will power the future.
The first major glass company to open its doors in Toledo was Libbey Glass. It was energy that brought Edward Libbey here. He brought his company from the East Coast to Ohio in the 1880s because our natural gas could fuel his operations at a lower cost.
From that fateful decision more than a century ago, Toledo became an international center for glass production. And while energy once brought us the glass industry, today that glass industry is bringing us new energy companies making solar panels.
That means jobs in solar research and design and production and distribution and installation. And that means a renewable source of power that will attract new companies in countless industries who flock to places where there is better access to better energy. Just ask Libbey Glass the largest glass maker in the country, still at home in Toledo, and once again in the midst of a great energy center.
I believe in Ohio because we have made a commitment to advanced energy and we are seeing results.
When I took office Ohio had the nation’s weakest advanced energy standard for electricity production. Today, Ohio has the nation’s seventh most aggressive standard.
In 2007, not one drop of ethanol was produced in Ohio. Today, four ethanol facilities in Ohio are producing 295 million gallons annually.
In renewable and advanced energy manufacturing projects, Ohio now ranks first among the 50 states.
The Council of State Governments scoured the nation to tally the total number of new green jobs created last year. And what did they find? Ohio ranks first.
We’ve made it this far, this fast on advanced energy because we pursued smart, responsible policies and we made smart, responsible investments.
Two years ago, Ohio was one of the first states to respond to the international economic crisis with a bipartisan jobs bill that made key investments in several high growth industries, including a 150 million dollar commitment to advanced energy.
And now Quasar Energy Group is building an anaerobic digester in Franklin County. The facility will keep waste product from farms, food companies and elsewhere out of landfills and transform it into fuel and fertilizer.
In Shelby County, Wayne Trail Technologies is creating a better battery for hybrid vehicles.
Aided by our jobs bill, energy projects like these are in the works all across Ohio.
Our electricity reform bill prevented the kind of skyrocketing rate increases of 50, 60, 70 percent that crippled states that failed to act. Instead, Ohioans pay 10 percent less for electricity than the national average.
And that reform bill established reliability standards that are essential to Ohio companies.
DuPont officials testified two years ago that they would not expand their Circleville plant because their electrical service wasn’t dependable. But just last week, DuPont announced a 175 million dollar investment to retool a facility that once made components for VCR tapes into one that will make film for solar panels. The company credits our energy reforms with making Ohio a better place for them to do business.
We are rapidly deploying federal stimulus funds to advance 500 million dollars in projects supporting an array of energy jobs from cutting-edge research to home weatherization.
We have continued the vital work of the Third Frontier which has made 150 million dollars in energy technology investments.
We’ve brought 15 state and private universities together in the University Clean Energy Alliance of Ohio to unite their efforts in pursuit of energy breakthroughs.
And, in our first budget we dramatically accelerated our school construction program and made it into one of the largest energy-efficient building initiatives ever created.
I believe in Ohio because we are not sitting back and letting other states pass us by. We are taking the vital next steps to advance our energy economy.
I am pleased to announce today that Ohio is creating the Energy Gateway Fund. We will make a unique and lasting investment in fuel cells, solar, wind, energy storage and the like with 30 million dollars in federal job stimulus funds and 10 million dollars from our state job stimulus program.
This 40 million dollar commitment will offer access to capital for new and expanding advanced energy companies. And we will at least double the impact of our efforts by requiring those seeking state funds to, at a minimum, match our investment dollar for dollar with new private funds. Revenue generated from the fund’s investments will keep powering Ohio’s economy because it will be reinvested in additional energy companies.
With the federal tax credit currently in place for renewable energy, companies will be making commitments to new facilities in the coming months. But the fact of the matter is that Ohio’s tax structure discourages wind and solar companies from coming to Ohio to generate renewable energy.
We should give those companies every reason to choose Ohio. That’s why I am asking the legislature to erase Ohio’s tangible personal property tax on generation for wind and solar facilities that break ground this year, create Ohio jobs, and begin producing energy by 2012.
And we will no longer be shy about our place at the forefront of the energy revolution.
That’s why we are proclaiming Ohio’s status as “America’s Energy Gateway.” We will transform turnpike service plazas in Williams and Mahoning counties into showcases of Ohio’s advanced energy capabilities. Visitors to Ohio will learn and Ohioans will be reminded that Ohio is producing a new kind of energy to power our future.
There will come a day when Ohio will be the undisputed home of advanced energy. A day when we will have cast off those two tired little words that have been used to put us down. Rust Belt. Because that’s not who we are. A day when the iconic image of the Texas oil rig will be eclipsed by the Ohio-made wind turbine and solar panel.
Orville Wright once said that everything he accomplished in his life was the result of his upbringing here in Ohio. In Ohio he was taught to question, explore, and seek new answers. I believe in Ohio because that spirit is very much alive in our great state today.
I believe in Ohio because we have laid the foundation for growth and a thriving middle class. I believe in Ohio unconditionally.
But we must not lose sight of the fact that many of our people are hurting right now.
The wake of the Wall Street crisis has knocked over banks, and mortgage lenders and pension plans, and companies in every sector of the economy; leaving us in the midst of the worst economic collapse in generations.
People who have worked hard all their lives and who may have never bought a stock or a bond, and certainly never traded collateralized debt, were hit by a storm of greed they didn’t cause, they didn’t contribute to, and they would never have benefited from but for which they must now repair the damage.
In Stark County last year, 835 people applied for one job opening as a janitor at a junior high school.
835 people. Scrambling for one job.
One man told the local newspaper that getting the job would be like “winning the lottery.”
I want to say something to the 834 people who applied for that job and didn’t get it. I want to say something to every person in Ohio who is unemployed or under-employed: I am fighting for you.
I can’t say it will be today. I can’t say it will be easy. But we are going to fix this thing.
And you have my word on this: I will move heaven and earth to create jobs in Ohio, and I will not rest until it’s done.
Because the state of the state is unyielding.
Unyielding in the face of the global economic turmoil. Unyielding in the face of budget cuts and job loss. Unyielding in the knowledge that we are more than our challenges. And unyielding in the belief that Ohio will always be not just our home but our hope.
I believe in Ohio because we may have been dealt a tough hand, but we are going to do what Ohioans have always done we’ll play it to win.
We’ve had to make tough decisions. We’ve had to make sacrifices. But we have worked to reduce the blow of this international economic meltdown, and the decisions we have made have positioned Ohio to not only recover but emerge rebuilt and renewed.
In our bipartisan jobs plan, we made major investments in advanced energy and also in logistics and distribution, public works, and other areas.
We have made the largest commitment in our history to improving Ohio’s infrastructure while saving resources in every way possible. In fact, we will increase infrastructure spending this year by 30 percent while operating with a Department of Transportation that has its smallest workforce in 30 years.
We have revitalized our job training efforts to build the skills our people need for employment in high growth industries. All told, we have helped more than 140,000 Ohioans receive job training since January 2007.
We have made a commitment to building a tax structure that encourages job growth and is respectful of our citizens.
We expanded the Homestead Property Tax Exemption, saving the average senior citizen homeowner 400 dollars each and every year.
Our business taxes are the lowest in the Midwest.
In fact, every year I have been in office we have cut taxes.
And even with the delay in implementing the final year of the personal income tax reduction, our efforts to carry out the tax reform bill of 2005 have already provided the largest tax cut in modern Ohio history.
We reformed our regulatory process to cut down on red tape and to make it easier for companies to do business in Ohio. In fact, we tossed out 220 state rules and we revised well over one thousand more.
I believe in Ohio because job creators know Ohio is a great place to do business.
The Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council studies the business climate in the 50 states. They consider taxes and regulations and the like, and then rank the states on whether they are a good place to start and grow a business.
In 2006, Ohio ranked 38th.
In their new report issued just a few weeks ago, Ohio now ranks 11th.
And, we are among the very best in the Midwest; and best among the states that border us.
I believe in Ohio because we have always been a state that invents things, designs things, makes things, grows things. And the world knows this. In fact, we are the only state in the nation where exports have grown every year since 1998.
I believe in Ohio because I have never met an Ohioan who thinks we should put in a call to China and ask them if they want more American jobs. Because we know there is no product that wouldn’t benefit from having “Made in Ohio” stamped on it.
But Ohio business leaders have told me time and again that lack of access to capital impedes them from competing and expanding. Our businesses are operating with one hand tied behind their backs because when Wall Street ran amok and damaged the American economy, it created a credit crunch for even the most fiscally sound companies.
In particular, we have small manufacturers in Ohio today who cannot afford to expand their companies and call back laid off workers, even as orders increase, because they lack capital. If they miss this window to expand and innovate, it could cost Ohioans jobs for a generation.
Quite frankly, I am convinced that this is the single greatest factor inhibiting economic recovery. So we are going to do something about it.
Today, I’m pleased to announce that Lt. Governor Lee Fisher and Ohio Treasurer Kevin Boyce have been working with a group of Ohio lenders to establish the Small Business Growth Partnership.
The first initiative of the partnership will be the creation of a business lending clearinghouse that points small businesses in the direction of possible sources for the working capital they need to grow their businesses and create jobs.
We are also meeting with lenders to establish a working capital jobs fund. This public-private partnership would become a new, dedicated source for business working capital.
Let me be clear. This is not a bailout or a hand out these are loans for companies that could make more products, more profits, and most importantly, more jobs if they simply had the required capital.
My friends, Ohioans have all the skills needed to do jobs that are being outsourced overseas. In fact, Ohioans have the skills to perform those jobs better. That’s why today I am announcing Insource Ohio, a collaboration between the Ohio Department of Development, Job and Family Services, and the Board of Regents. Insource Ohio will work with any Ohio company currently outsourcing or considering outsourcing to demonstrate how Ohio’s workforce can meet their needs within a business model that remains competitive.
I believe in Ohio because our workforce is second to none. But when jobs disappear we owe Ohioans every opportunity to prepare themselves for new employment.
That’s why today I am announcing the creation of a Manufacturing Certificate. Those who have worked in manufacturing will be able to obtain a credential they can take to future employers that documents their full range of job skills and experience. And, certificate holders will be able to earn credit toward additional job training and education.
People are coming to our community colleges looking for opportunity. In fact, enrollment is up 23 percent over the last three years. A lot of folks want to create their own opportunity and that’s why we should help them channel their passions into a business.
Today I am announcing the creation of a new program called Build Your Own Business. In partnership with our Small Business Development Centers, Ohio’s community colleges and adult career centers will offer unemployed Ohioans courses and training on starting a business. Participants will have access to business mentors and to small startup loans of up to five thousand dollars to help our new entrepreneurs take their first steps forward.
Build Your Own Business represents a statewide expansion of the highly successful program at Lorain County Community College where they offer education and support to budding small business people. And where 60 of the 62 businesses they have mentored are succeeding.
Build Your Own Business is just one of four significant job training programs I think should be the focus of new revenue Ohio will receive from casino licensing fees.
I would ask the legislature to consider implementing our co-op internship program to give college students an opportunity to get invaluable experience in their field and encourage our young people to stay and thrive in Ohio. And, we should support the highly successful Ohio Workforce Guarantee that averts layoffs and spurs business expansion by providing training resources to companies. And, I look forward to working with the legislature to create an urban workforce initiative to provide incentives for Ohio companies to immediately put unemployed Ohioans back to work.
I believe in Ohio because we favor common sense solutions over ideological extremes.
Now with a new regulatory reform we are calling Fast TRAC, we will be able to accelerate funding and final approval for our most promising job-creating transportation projects. And we will dedicate an additional 100 million dollars in cost savings to these Fast TRAC projects, putting more Ohioans to work building roads, repairing bridges and making Ohio move.
We created the University System of Ohio to unify higher education in our state and to help us pursue the goal of being best in the nation at turning our university research into new jobs and economic development.
And today we are pursuing a groundbreaking agreement that will help our university system turn great ideas into new products and new jobs.
My administration and Attorney General Rich Cordray are overseeing talks toward reaching a standing agreement between the entire University System of Ohio and consumer product powerhouse P&G.
With the contract in place, we will speed up and strengthen research collaborations between our university faculty and the company. P&G will get the benefit of our innovative thinkers. Our universities will get the benefit of unprecedented opportunities to collaborate with P&G on new products. And Ohioans will get the benefit of new economic development.
And we can use this agreement as a model for other companies and industries that want to work with Ohio’s innovative institutions. Indeed, today I am calling on the Ohio Auto Industry Support Council to build on this historic agreement and create a network that will link Ohio’s manufacturers to great research going on in Ohio.
I believe in Ohio because we are not passively waiting for a better day. We’re pursuing pragmatic solutions and building public/private partnerships that let us focus the energies of government on the needs of the people and guide the energies of private entities toward work that advances Ohio.
With the Third Frontier, Ohio made a commitment to securing our place at the forefront of the research economy. And that commitment has paid tremendous dividends.
Certified independent analysis shows that the overall Third Frontier effort has created 48,000 jobs for Ohioans and leveraged more than 6.6 billion dollars in outside investments. And the Third Frontier is a major reason why venture capital investments in Ohio have been growing more than 20 percent a year, well more than twice the rate of growth nationwide.
This ten year investment in revitalizing Ohio launched in 2002 under the leadership of former Governor Bob Taft and with the bipartisan support of elected officials and voters is set to expire. I want to thank the legislature for working toward the renewal of this vital program and I am hopeful that we will meet next week’s deadline for placing the Third Frontier on the ballot for voters’ consideration in May.
Ohio’s promise, Ohio’s opportunity is not to be found by clinging ever tighter to a fading past. Indeed, the scriptures warn us, “Do not say why were the former days better than these, for it is not from wisdom that you ask this.”
Because, my friends, our renewal lies before us, not behind us.
And even as we acknowledge the sincere shared sacrifice we have endured in recent years, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that we have accomplished some things that no other state has been able to do.
We have followed a plan and defied our circumstances to protect our investment in the future.
California recently announced a 32 percent tuition increase at its state universities. Ohio has held tuition to the lowest increase in the nation over the last three years.
That’s one important reason we now have 65,591 more Ohioans enrolled in our public colleges and universities than we had in 2006.
Next door in Indiana they are in the process of slashing 300 million dollars in state funds from their primary and secondary schools. In Georgia, school funding was cut by 440 million dollars. And at least twenty other states are inflicting serious cuts on their school systems.
But in Ohio, in Ohio, we are not going backward on our schools. Using a combination of state and federal resources, we increased school funding by 5.5 percent in the last budget.
I believe in Ohio because we recognize that a superior education starting from the earliest age is the only path to sustained prosperity.
So we passed a historic education reform plan last year that gives our students and our taxpayers a system that is constitutional, accountable, and incomparable.
Using an evidence-based approach, we have defined the resources our students need inside and outside the classroom. We have redefined our expectations and our practices with one core purpose in mind to prepare our students to become critical and creative thinkers who will thrive in the workplace and in life.
This month Education Week issued its annual report card on the nation’s schools. The study looks at more than 150 indicators of school quality.
And Ohio’s schools now rank 1st in the Midwest and 5th in the nation. The report notes that Ohio’s standards for mathematics and science have been cited as a model by other states and that our assessment and accountability practices are among the best in the nation.
Our Closing the Achievement Gap initiative has raised expectations and achievements of African American students. Over the first two years of this effort, participating school districts achieved a more than 18 percent increase in the overall ninth and tenth grade promotion rate.
The highly respected Education Commission of the States studies schools and school systems across the country. And they present an award for innovation to the state that has best improved education and put in place what they call “bold, courageous and nonpartisan new policies.” Just today the commission announced that their award for the most innovative education system in the country goes to Ohio in recognition of the comprehensive education reform we created last year.
Let me say to our school children: We don’t know what your dreams will be but our schools will give you the tools to make them come true.
We now better serve those who have selflessly served our nation.
We created the Ohio Department of Veterans Services to unite all our state veterans programs into one cabinet department.
With the Ohio G.I. promise, Ohio became the first state in the nation to open the doors of our state universities and colleges with free tuition for veterans from across the country.
We’ve made military pensions free of state income tax.
Let these policies send a clear message to everyone who has worn this nation’s uniform heroes are welcome in Ohio.
In honor of all the servicemen and women from Ohio who are bravely serving this day, please join me now in a moment of silent reflection. Let us pray for their safe return and for the comfort and strength of those who have suffered loss or injury.
I am proud to say that in assembling a cabinet and in appointing judges, no Ohio governor has ever chosen applicants who better reflect the great diversity of this state.
Women now hold half of the seats in my cabinet.
Among the 40 judicial vacancies I have filled, more than one-third of our new judges are African Americans and more than forty percent are women.
One of my recent appointees represents the first Hispanic American to serve as an appellate judge in Ohio. I am also proud to have appointed the first two Ohio judges who identify themselves as members of the gay and lesbian community.
My friends, public servants should look like the public they serve.
Together we have put a steady hand on the reins of government investing in things that are essential to our future and essential to who we are. We are building a government that works better and works on what’s most important to Ohio. A government that looks like Ohio, and acts for Ohio.
Ronald Reagan once said that “no government ever reduces itself in size. A government program,” he said, “is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this Earth.” Well, today Ohio has 5,021 fewer state employees than when I took office. That’s fewer state employees than at any time since Ronald Reagan was in the White House.
To keep our budget balanced, we have had to make cuts but we are also making better use of the resources we do have.
It costs less to make a copy at the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency now because they purchased copy machines instead of leasing them, saving 19,000 dollars. The phone bill went down at the Department of Health because they are placing more calls over the internet instead of over traditional phone lines, saving 232,000 dollars. And because there truly is no such thing as a free lunch, we have saved 1.6 million dollars limiting where and when state money can be used to purchase food.
It’s a penny here, a dollar there. Or, in the case of our Medicaid efforts, it’s 796 million dollars saved by billing third parties who should have been responsible for payment.
Quite frankly, we have tracked down waste and inefficiency like a hungry bloodhound. Because our taxpayers deserve no less.
Now, not for a moment would I want to understate the serious budget challenges we have faced in Ohio. But I also think we should understand that responsible leadership makes a difference.
In November, the Pew Center on the States issued its report on state finances and state economies. They made an apples to apples comparison of per capita revenue and spending across the 50 states.
And what did they find? Ohio is doing better than most states at maintaining state revenue and balancing the budget.
Forbes magazine did a story just a few years ago about the states people most wanted to live in. Florida was right there at the top of the list. Today, Florida is right there at the top of a different list: the Pew Center’s list of what they call “States in Fiscal Peril.”
Florida has a higher unemployment rate than Ohio.
Florida has a higher foreclosure rate than Ohio.
Florida has lost vastly more state revenue and has had vastly greater budget gaps to fill than Ohio.
Now it’s true, in Florida they don’t have to shovel a lot of snow. But I would remind you what Rutherford Hayes had to say on the subject of weather.
He said, “The climate of Ohio is perfect because a climate which requires industry to secure comfort is the very climate which produces the highest civilization.”
And by that standard, our civilization reached new heights earlier this month.
I believe in Ohio because while every state has taken a hit in this economy, quite frankly, we are tougher than most.
I believe in Ohio because our cities shine brightly as centers of commerce and culture.
I want to acknowledge the valuable work of the Compact with Ohio Cities task force. I appreciate Speaker Budish making this important subject a priority, and I would like to see us move forward on several taskforce recommendations including Transportation Innovation Authorities and Land banks.
The taskforce has also called for action to help prevent foreclosures. Now, both the House and Senate have bills that would reduce foreclosures in Ohio. Today I am asking members from both chambers, from both sides of the aisle, to bring together your best ideas and put a bill on my desk that helps keep Ohioans in their homes.
Ohio’s cities have very different economic identities. It’s time we formally recognized that fact and helped build on those strengths by designating Ohio’s Hubs of Innovation and Opportunity.
Already in Dayton and the surrounding region we have created an aerospace hub that recognizes the wide array of research and production that goes on there.
Today we are opening the hub process across Ohio. This year, all of Ohio’s eight largest cities will have the opportunity to hold hub status.
As a hub, we will provide planning money and development assistance to further build connections between industry strengths anchored in the urban core and the surrounding region.
In short, we are going to help our cities and regions do more of what they do best.
You know, Ohio consistently ranks among the top 3 states in average revenue per minority firm. And we are proud to be the home of opportunity.
I am pleased to announce today a new partnership with the Cleveland-based non-profit group JumpStart. Our pilot project in 21 Northeast Ohio counties will assist high-potential minority owned firms in developing business plans for sustained growth and in accessing angel investors and venture capital.
I believe in Ohio because Ohio agriculture is so important not only to our economy but to our way of life.
But we should do a better job getting Ohio-grown and raised foods onto the dinner tables of Ohio families. Because Ohioans spend about 43 billion dollars every year on food, but only 3 percent of that spending goes to products from Ohio farms. Moreover, too many Ohioans live in neighborhoods where fresh produce is hard to find or impossible to afford.
Today I am announcing the Ohio Neighborhood Harvest the largest effort of its kind ever undertaken to map access to healthy and locally grown food. Working in partnership with local governments, the private sector and non-profits, we will use our findings to design a statewide strategy to improve access to Ohio- grown products and ensure that people in every neighborhood in Ohio have access to affordable, healthy food. Because there shouldn’t be any neighborhood in Ohio where the only vegetable for sale is the pickle on a fast food hamburger.
Ohio is a soybean state. We are a corn state. We are a logistics state, situated right in the heart of it all. And we are the polymer state.
All these things make us the ideal location for an advanced biorefinery that converts farm output into food, fuel and biopolymers.
Toothbrushes, cell phones, printer cartridges there’s a list of products as long as my arm that are made today from petroleum-based plastic that could be made from biopolymers.
And I’ll tell you this, there is nothing more important we could do for the security and sustainability of our nation than base our economy on the output of Midwestern farmers instead of Middle Eastern oil barons.
So to the companies drawing up plans to build a biorefinery bring those plans to us. Because with our agricultural output, our know-how, and our location, we are sitting on a treasure and we will do everything in our power to tap it.
The Energy Gateway Fund. Hubs of Innovation. The Ohio Neighborhood Harvest.
I believe in Ohio because we will invest in the things we do exceptionally well. And we will create jobs.
Renewal of the Third Frontier. An advanced biorefinery.
I believe in Ohio because we will relentlessly pursue the future. And we will create jobs.
The most innovative schools in the country. Teaching people the skills they need to start a business. Insourcing Ohio jobs. Helping manufacturing workers show what they can do.
I believe in Ohio because we will invest in our people. And we will create jobs.
Small Business Growth Partnership. A groundbreaking agreement with P&G.
I believe in Ohio because we will unshackle those who make things. And we will create jobs.
The smallest state workforce in a generation. Hundreds of millions in savings and unprecedented efficiency.
I believe in Ohio because we will save taxpayers’ resources so that we can invest more in the things that matter most. And we will create jobs.
We are rebuilding an economic foundation so our middle class can once again stand tall.
Yes, we have been knocked down. There’s no doubt about that. But as the legendary football coach Vince Lombardi used to say, “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get back up.”
And Ohio will rise again. Because there isn’t a single thing wrong with Ohio that can’t be fixed by what’s right with Ohio.
I believe in Ohio and I believe in Ohioans.
I believe in Ohio because everything we’ve done today will help us thrive tomorrow.
I believe in Ohio, because, with God, all things are possible.