Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor swears in Gov. John Kasich for his second term as his wife, Karen, holds a Bible during the ceremonial swearing-in.
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COLUMBUS — Gov. John Kasich, sometimes sounding more like a minister than a governor, called Monday for Ohioans to look out for one another, even exhorting fellow Republicans not to allow strict ideology to interfere with helping those who need it.
Sometimes help will come from the government. Often it will not, he told about 900 people as he took the ceremonial oath for a second four-year term at the Southern Theater, a few blocks from the Statehouse.
While stressing that he doesn’t think about politics, he managed to bring his call for renewed faith and compassion full circle back to politics. One of his top priorities for this term, he said, is to convince reluctant fellow Republicans to renew Ohio’s expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
He urged his party to understand that “economic growth is not an end unto itself” and that everyone must share in the state’s gains.
“We are Ohioans,” he said. “We are Americans. We can’t be partisans, and we cannot be extreme ideologues if we’re going to deal with the problems in America.”
Ohio’s 69th governor fought back tears near the end of his speech as he spoke of renewed faith and a sense of responsibility.
He borrowed heavily from John F. Kennedy, saying that Ohio’s mantra should be, “Don’t ask what somebody else can do for you, but what you can do to help yourself and to help someone else.”
He talked about his decision to expand Medicaid without explicitly linking his call for compassion with his effort to convince lawmakers to renew it. But the message was clear anyway.
An estimated 450,000 mostly working-class Ohioans have received coverage under the expanded Medicaid eligibility, for which the federal government has so far picked up the whole tab. But he needs legislative help to renew it beyond June 30.
Mr. Kasich has talked about reform of work-force development, welfare, and Medicaid programs to better connect recipients with job opportunities. He is expected to include a plan in his two-year budget proposal in coming weeks.
“Government can be a partner with us, with private citizens, to help when needed …,” he said. “But government should never drive us to a state of dependency… dependent not on drugs, not on someone else, and not on government.”
Gov. John Kasich paraphrased John F. Kennedy in his speech: ‘Don’t ask what somebody else can do for you, but what you can do to help yourself and to help somebody else.’
ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge
Mr. Kasich said little new, borrowing heavily from speeches he delivered on the campaign trail.
Republicans hold every statewide executive office and super-majorities in both legislative chambers.
Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper said some of Mr. Kasich’s actions over the last four years fly in the face of the words he delivered Monday.
“Unfortunately, throughout Governor Kasich’s first term, we saw just the opposite — with an agenda that divided our state with attacks on public workers, tax changes that shifted a greater burden onto the backs of working Ohioans in order to benefit the wealthy, and budgets that raided funds from local communities causing many families to struggle,” he said.
Rep. Barbara Sears (R., Monclova Township) had frustrated some in her party when she joined Mr. Kasich in the push for Medicaid expansion. She said the expansion can go hand in hand with work-force development in providing care for those who need it while providing a healthy work force for Ohio’s economy.
“As conservatives we can, in fact, manage reform and provide opportunities regardless of the economic position you are in in the state of Ohio,” she said.
State Sen. Randy Gardner (R., Bowling Green) suggested that the speech shows Mr. Kasich plans to ramp up initiatives that he’s started.
“I think if anyone didn’t know how much he believed in that, they do after today,” he said. “How that translates into specific legislative policies or budget items is to be seen. I think this was an inspiring day on which to build 2015.”
The afternoon inaugural was purely ceremonial, unlike the swearing-in that took place just after 12:01 a.m. Monday. At both events, Mr. Kasich and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor took their oaths from Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor.
Secretary of State Jon Husted, Treasurer Josh Mandel, and Auditor Dave Yost also raised their right hands to take the oaths of office for second terms. Attorney General Mike DeWine got a head start with his Sunday swearing-in.
Weather kept New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie from attending as had been expected. As then-Republican Governors Association chairman, he had campaigned here for Mr. Kasich last year.
Contact Jim Provance at: email@example.com or 614-221-0496.
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