Gov. John Kasich wants to hold the annual State of the State address outside of Ohio’s capital for the second year in a row, this time in Lima.
Kasich sent letters to lawmakers on Friday asking they choose to hold the address in Lima next month, according to a news release from Kasich’s office. The State of the State address is delivered to a joint session of the General Assembly, so lawmakers must approve a joint resolution to convene a special session for the address.
If approved, Kasich would deliver the speech at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 19 at Lima’s Veterans Memorial Civic and Convention Center about 70 miles north of Dayton.
Kasich gave last year’s address at Wells Academy in Steubenville, drawing complaints from lawmakers of both parties for the 300-mile round-trip. The required joint resolution didn’t pass easily in the House of Representatives, 52 to 42, with 10 Republicans voting against.
Kasich told reporters on Monday that he planned to travel “more west than east” this year.
Those comments prompted Rep. Ron Gerberry, D-Austintown, to write a letter urging House Speaker William Batchelder, R-Medina, to reject the governor’s request. Gerberry wrote that moving the address outside of Columbus is inappropriate and “significantly destroys a historical tradition of Ohio.”
Kasich acknowledged the tradition in a letter sent Thursday to all state senators and representatives:
“As a former member of the General Assembly, I share your respect for this tradition, and also believe that we, as the state’s leaders, have a responsibility to make the work of government more accessible to Ohioans.”
Kasich’s office cited Allen County’s economic improvement — adding 2,000 jobs in the Lima metro area since January 2011 and lowering the unemployment rate to 6.7 percent from 10.8 percent. That improvement reflects “Ohio’s strong economic resurgence and the importance of an improved environment for job creation via low taxes, streamlined regulations and a structurally balanced budget,” according to the release.
New Senate President Keith Faber, R-Celina, said it’s great the address is being used to spotlight other parts of the state. Lima, population 38,771, is in Faber’s district which also includes Mercer, Champaign, Shelby, Auglaize, Darke and Logan counties.
“We’ve got a great story to tell, and I know Governor Kasich has an incredible record and vision to share in this important address,” Faber said. “This is how government ‘of the people’ should work.”