Gov. Kasich: Ohioans Must Get Used To Change
LINDA WERTHEIMER, Host:
NPR national political correspondent Don Gonyea has been following Governor Kasich as he promotes the labor bill and his plan to solve Ohio's projected $8 billion deficit.
DON GONYEA: On Monday he took the message to the city of Marion, where he visited a juvenile detention center that's one of five prisons he wants to sell to the private sector.
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JOHN KASICH: When this prison is sold, it will become a revenue-producing institution for our community and there will be more people hired.
GONYEA: Then yesterday Kasich signed the bill funding the Ohio Department of Transportation. He used the moment to raise another topic: his hopes of privatizing the Ohio Turnpike.
KASICH: If we could lease the turnpike for around $3 billion and have approximately $2.5 billion free and clear, you could put a billion dollars in infrastructure.
GONYEA: The governor says this is the most reform-minded budget in the state's history, with changes to how public schools are run and to Medicaid. And just about every time Kasich steps up to a microphone anywhere, there's a good chance you'll hear some variation of this...
KASICH: Ohio must get used to change if we are going to survive. The old way, the status quo, weak, avoiding decisions, is not acceptable.
GONYEA: Unidentified Man: (Singing) Hey, John Kasich, don't sell us out. Hey, Ohio, stand up and shout.
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GONYEA: Courtney Johnson is a public schoolteacher in Columbus. She says Senate Bill 5 goes well beyond cutting costs. She calls it an attempt to destroy unions.
COURTNEY JOHNSON: We're not being asked to contribute, we're being silenced, and that's the difference. They're not asking us to contribute more. They're saying you cannot have a voice in the workplace.
GONYEA: Sixty-five-year-old Dwight Landis is a retired city worker who joined the latest protests. He did admit that he has long admired Kasich as a smart numbers and finance guy.
DWIGHT LANDIS: I hate - I'm going to say it, right - I voted for him and I liked the idea of getting our house in order. We do have to get our finances right. But it doesn't have to be predatory. And that's where this is headed. That's the way I see it.
GONYEA: Polls show that Kasich's approval rating has plummeted. One new survey puts it at just 30 percent. The governor's reaction...
KASICH: I am not at all pleased to hear that somebody that voted for me, you know, now thinks I've lost my way or whatever. But it's just not true. I mean, I can look in their faces and understand their fear. I come from a union family. But it is my job to be a leader, to bring prosperity back to Ohio.
GONYEA: Don Gonyea, NPR News.
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