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George Voinovich
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1991 State of the State Address(5th March)
State Capitol, Columbus, Ohio

Text Version
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Mr. Speaker. Mr. President. Lt. Governor Dewine. Distinguished members of the 119th Ohio General Assembly. Justices of the Supreme Court. Elected State office holders. Members of the Cabinet. My wife, Janet -- friends -- and fellow Ohioans.

As you know, I served here as a member of the 107th, 108th, and 109th general Assemblies. I'm proud of that service, and it's comforting to me that so many people that I served with are now in leadership positions.

Vern Riffe is now speaker, and Stan Aronoff is now president, but they are also long-time friends. I want to acknowledge the hand of friendship and cooperation that I have received from them during the beginning of my administration.

As Lt. Governor, I worked with Chief Justice Moyer when he was in the Governor's office. Tom, I am sure that neither of us dreamed we would later serve at the same time as Chief Justice and Governor.

We live in a great country and land of opportunity. If you look around this room today, you find the best evidence of something my father said to me a long time ago: "Do a good job with the job you have, and the future will take care of itself."

When I first contemplated today's State of the State Address, I envisioned giving it under a cloud of war. Thank God the sunshine of peace is upon us today, as we celebrate one of the greatest military victories this country has ever experienced under the leadership of our Commander-in-Chief, George Bush.

Let us acknowledge the sacrifice so many people made to make that victory possible.

In particular, let us pray that the sunshine penetrates the homes of marine corporal James Lumpkins of New Richmond, Navy Lt. Robert Dwyer of Worthington, Army specialist Clarence Allen Cash of Ashland, Army Sgt. Jonathan Kamm of Mason, Army specialist Anthony Kidd of Lima, and Army reservist Timothy A. Shaw of Painesville, -- Ohioans who have given their lives to keep freedom alive in the world.

I also want to acknowledge representative Casey Jones of Toledo -- Senator Scott Oelslager of Canton -- and representative C.J. Prentiss of Cleveland -- who all have family members serving in operation desert storm.

Finally, won't it be a pleasure, to give a big buckeye "Welcome Back" to all of our troops -- including our own representative E.J. Thomas. Join me today in acknowledging his parents -- Mr. And Mrs. Edward Thomas.

In my Inaugural Address, I talked about the "new realities" we face in Ohio -- about how we've become a no-growth state, where net disposable family income has fallen, while State and local taxes have increased faster than in all other States except one. What it all adds up to is a State not working up to its capacity.

Our challenge is to approach these new realities as an opportunity to take a fresh look at ourselves, so that we can work up to our capacity and make Ohio a leader again.

My vision for Ohio is a State whose leaders are as good and decent and honest as its people -- a leader in education -- a leader in fighting the war against crime and drugs -- in providing access to quality, affordable health care -- a leader in cleaning up our environment -- and in providing a decent quality of life for all of our citizens, including those who cannot provide for themselves.

The problem today is that we face some even newer realities in the form of a budget crisis that renders our job all the more difficult.

Last year, the Governor and General Assembly solved a projected $270 million budget deficit through spending cuts and one-time revenue pick-ups.

At the same time, an over $400 million carryover balance from the 1990 budget was being spent.

This year, we've made an additional $127 million in cuts and we're keeping our fingers crossed that it will get us through this fiscal year -- especially in light of the $61 million lottery shortfall.

Had Ohio not spent the $400 million carryover, it would have taken care of the combined revenue shortfall and expense overruns. Though we will balance this year's budget, it is unfortunate we enter next fiscal year with over a half billion dollar gap between revenues and current expenditure levels.

Someone told me the other day that some people's attitude was, "Let the next Governor worry about it." Well folks, it's now my problem and yours.

It is safe to say that we have never before found ourselves in the midst of a financial crisis of the magnitude we face today. In most of our lifetimes, the only comparable period would have been 1981-'82.

But what made that period different from this one, is that, even in the darkest days of the early 80's, we were still taking in more than we were spending. That is not true today.

And without fiscal restraint, we would face a budget deficit in the next biennium of somewhere over a billion-and-a-half dollars.This is not just unfortunate -- it is almost unbelievable. I think it is important to make sue the taxpayers understand how we got into this predicament.

In the past decade, Ohio benefited from the nation's longest-ever peacetime economic expansion. The harvest of tax revenues during the 1980's, particularly income and sales taxes, was enormous.

And remember that the national economic expansion came just after the largest income tax increase in Ohio history in 1983. During the 1980's -- while Ohio's population grew by just half of one percent -- total spending by the State's General revenue fund agencies grew by 125 percent.

State government built nearly a half-billion dollars worth of new buildings representing 3.3 million square feet of office space in the last ten years.

Things have changed a lot since my days in the legislature when all each of us had was a flip-top desk, a file cabinet, a secretary for four legislators, and a bull pen with lots of phones to call our constituents.

During the 1980's, State Government created new boards and commissions to deal with just about every concern that came down the pike. There were 140 of them in 1980. Today, there are more than 235.

During all of that time, when State Government was spending and building and growing like there was no tomorrow, did the lives of average Ohioans improve by similar proportions?

Did state services improve by commensurate amounts? I don't think so.

It can still take 18 months or linger to reconsider orders handed down in workers' compensation cases, instead of the 30 days it should take.

More than a billion dollars in delinquent child support is still owed to Ohio families, and we risk $80 million in penalties because we still have not fixed the problem.

And Medicaid costs in the department of human services continue to soar, propelled by double-digit growth in long-term care costs -- growth we must work together to bring under control.

Someone once said that, if we continue in the direction we're going, we might end up there. Well, we did. Consequently, you and I must now deal with a budget problem unparalleled in Ohio history and a management mess of untold proportions in State Government.

Clearly, this is the challenge that shapes and defines the state of our State in 1991. And I firmly believe that our stewardship at this critical juncture will chart Ohio's course, not only in the 1990's, but well into the next century.

There are only two ways to approach this challenge -- more taxes on the one hand, or jobs and management on the other. And when I talk about management, I'm talking about working harder and smarter, and doing more with less.

I choose jobs and management, and so do most of the other 27 states with similar problems.

For example, Massachusetts is considering $2.6 billion in reductions -- Virginia, $1.3 billion -- Michigan, $861 million and 3,300 layoffs. And New York's Mario Cuomo, with a $6 billion gap, is looking at abolishing dozens of state agencies and 7,200 jobs. Before we go further with this discussion, I want to make absolutely certain that the people of Ohio understand where I am coming from. I believe that actions speak louder than words.

I'm an ordinary person. As most of you now know, I shine my own shoes and, Janet enjoys making most of her own clothes.

I don't need the State airplane flown from where it's hangared to my back door, just for the sake of personal convenience, and I don't need a $1,300 chair for my office when an old favorite of mine will do.

I see it as the Governor's job to represent the taxpayers to government -- not to represent government to the taxpayers. I want to do everything possible to assure that government makes sense to average Ohioans and reflects the real world they live in.

So as we ponder the state of our State, we must remember that our current budget woes reflect the woes of average Ohioans. Our tax revenues are down because their incomes are down.

We're no different than our constituents. Just like them, we've got to work harder and smarter, and do more with less. I seek a partnership with the General Assembly to do just that.

I believe very strongly that it is up to the Governor to set the tone, and I am happy to let the process begin with my office. We have cut our staff by more than 17 percent, and the staff of the First Lady and residence by half.

We are even using maps and other materials bearing my predecessor's name in order to save money.

Recently I saw a friend of mine, who showed me his new driver's license with "Richard F. Celeste" on it. He said, "You're going to have to be elected Governor again for me to have your name on my license."

Our primary vehicle for reviewing State Government will be the operations improvement task force we are now appointing. Through it, hundreds of volunteer experts will look into every nook and cranny of State Government.

I will tell them to ask the tough questions, such as: Why are we doing this? Do we, in fact, really need it? If so, should State Government still do it, or should someone else? If we must do it, how much does it cost? Are there ways to streamline procedures -- eliminate waste -- or cut costs?

We already know that major reorganization or redirection is needed in the departments of development and human services and the bureaus of employment services and workers' compensation.

And we have already begun to take a close look at our State Boards and Commissions and to ask the same tough questions. For example, Ohio is now served by a Governor's Council on physical fitness and sports, but also by a physical fitness and sports advisory board.

We are served by a parks and recreation council and also a recreation and resources commission.

And we have a water advisory council, a water development authority, and a private water systems advisory board.

We are taking a very close look at the sunset provisions for all State Boards and Commissions. It is safe to say that the sun will set on some of them.

What all of this boils down to is the need for better management of increasingly scarce resources.

I know that many of you may be skeptical about our operations improvement task force. But, because of the one we established in Cleveland, our budget increased only 46 percent in 10 years.

We operated the city with $55 million less in federal money each year.

We had 10 percent fewer employees through attrition.

I want you to know that 80 percent of the recommendations we adopted came from our own workers, who had never been asked how they could do their jobs better.

The task force created an entirely new attitude among our workers -- someone listened and carried through on their recommendations.

The truth is, the people out there in the departments, agencies, and institutions, who actually spend the money -- along with their lobbyists and advocates -- have a far better understanding of their operations than we do.

For that reason, I challenge everyone who comes before the legislature for the budget hearings, to begin their testimony with three ideas on how they can cut spending or improve efficiency.

Tell us what you can do to help -- not how much more you need to spend.

I

can assure you that the editors here with us today, along with the people of Ohio, will keep a close eye on the process.

They will be watching to see who addresses this challenge in the spirit of cooperation and participation, and who thinks they can still get away with "business as usual." and I guarantee you that those who are watching, including me, will remember.

Our shared goal must be to get State Government working up to its capacity so that we can help Ohio do the same.

Toward that end, the budget we will submit in the coming days will contain certain provisions to cut costs, generate revenues where possible, and improve services -- such as our recent initiative to privatize liquor sales in Ohio.

But I will tell you now -- these are very tough times. We have had to make some very hard choices -- the most difficult that I have had to make in my life.

And the decision-making has been compounded because we don't have all the facts. It's been seven weeks since I was sworn in -- seven weeks to submit a nearly $27 billion budget with cost cuts and revenue enhancements close to $1 billion.

That's why we need the input from your budget hearings as soon as possible so that, working together, we can arrive at a final budget package on schedule.

Our aim is to hurt no one, but rather to make an unprecedented commitment to one priority that I believe ranks above all others -- the health and education of our children.

Most Ohioans have had enough welfare -- enough poverty -- enough drugs -- enough crime.

Most would love to see that debilitating cycle broken, and the people trapped within it, freed -- once and for all. So would I. The only way to do it is to pick one generation of children -- draw a line in the sand -- and say to all: "This is where it stops."

Today, we draw the line.

Consequently, nearly all programs in our budget affecting children have either been protected, or expanded.

We will, for example, expand Medicaid health care coverage to all pregnant women and infants up to age one, beginning in 1993. We will increase the number of eligible children enrolled in head start to 50 percent in the new biennium.

We will raise the income cap on the state child care credit from $30,000 to $40,000, so more young working families can afford day care.

We will put to use the $28 million in new federal day care money so that more people can leave the welfare rolls and enter the world of work.

I am committed to doing everything in my power to assure that every Ohio child is healthy and prepared -- not just for school, but for life, itself.

If we achieve this goal, we will have greatly increased the chances that, 15 to 20 years down the road, this new generation will be ready to take care of themselves -- to find gainful employment -- to raise a family -- and to make a contribution to society.

I want Ohio to be the education state. On the day of my inauguration, the Governor's Office adopted Douglas Elementary School. At the ceremony, the children presented me with a poster. It said, "Education, the heart of it all."

Ohio will never be the "heart of it all" without education.

My wife Janet, who has made the Adopt-A-School program her number one priority, said, "wouldn't it be nice if seven years from now when people ask us where we are from, and we answer Ohio, their first response will be, "wow, what a great education program you have in Ohio!"

We must make public education our number one goal, but should not forget the outstanding contribution that our non-public schools are making to education in this state. We must get everyone involved in education.

They must be convinced, if they believe in the Judeo-Christian tradition and the second great commandment, "love thy neighbor as thyself," that the finest thing they can do is to develop the God-given talents of their neighbors.

If we can't convince them of that, then we must convince them that education is our best economic development tool, and without it our economy will collapse.

And if we can't get these messages across, then we've got to convince Ohioans that education is the best investment they can make to save money and keep taxes down.

Every $1 invested in early childhood education results in $4.75 savings down the road in welfare, criminal justice costs, and remedial education.

And we must assure them, as the final recommendation in the education 2000 report states -- and by the way, it should have been the first -- "we must assure taxpayers that monies now being provided for education are being put to the best use."

We've had enough talk about education -- it's time for action.

The vehicle through which i will act is the Governor's Education Management Council, or G.E.M.

Jean Droste, former executive director of the education improvement commission, has been working full time out of the Governor's office on G.E.M.

The foundation of G.E.M. will be the business roundtable, which has make, in conjunction with the national governors' association, a 10 year commitment to improve education.

Goodyear, Goodrich, T.R.W., and Procter and Gamble have already committed resources to G.E.M., and have agreed to conduct a management audit of the state department of education.

G.E.M. will focus on governance -- the relationships between the Governor's office, the state board of education, and the superintendent of public instruction -- the relationships between local school boards and superintendents -- and the number of school districts.

It will focus on the National Governors' Association's and President Bush's six goals which I have adopted. Those goals deal with getting all children to start school ready to learn -- reducing the dropout rate -- competency in challenging subject matter -- proficiency in science and mathematics -- literacy for all adults -- and drug and violence free schools.

And G.E.M. will also focus on the foundation formula.

The current formula has helped create "rich" and "poor" school districts.

The Ohio public expenditure council recently pointed out that the per pupil allocation ranges from $3,000 to $11,000 per student.In our poorest district -- Trimble School in Athens County -- 100 mills would generate an extra $156 per student.

And in Ohio's richest district -- Perry schools in Lake County -- 100 mills would generate $8,910 per pupil.

Many of you in the general assembly are already working hard to address this issue, and I want to thank, in particular, Speaker Riffe, President Aronoff, Senators Cupp and Snyder, and representative wise, for their efforts in this regard.

Frankly, I think we've studied and debated this issue long enough.

Courts have cleared the way for Ohio's school districts to join together in a lawsuit to force us to act. That puts the sword of damocles squarely above our heads.

It is now time to act.

If necessary, I am prepared to invite all of the players into the same room -- lock the door -- and stay locked inside until we solve the problem.

I am also committed to increasing education's share of the State budget. To that end, in spite of our financial crisis, there will be no cuts in the first fiscal year in basic aid -- a 5% increase in the second year -- and a $50 million equity fund.

One other point, whether we like it or not -- we are going to have national assessment of our schools. Franklin Walter assures me that our ninth grade proficiency test will be consistent with this assessment.

We've got to set standards. We have to tell Ohio's employers that our high school graduates at least have ninth grade reading, writing, and mathematics skills, and a basic understanding of citizenship.

Ohio will be the education state by the year 2000. We will guarantee that our generation of children will be prepared for the jobs of the 21st century.

In keeping with that goal, we must also commit ourselves to reinvigorating the Ohio economy and recapturing the competitive edge we once enjoyed.

Ohio desperately needs a comprehensive economic development strategy that will make our state a leader in retaining, expanding and creating jobs for our people.

We must reorganize, regionalize, and inventory our incentive package, and emphasize science and technology, and increasing the export of Ohio products into the global marketplace.

State government must lead the way in forging a new spirit of cooperation and partnership among labor, management, government, and higher education.

We must realize that we all have a symbiotic relationship and that if we are to achieve our respective goals, we must work together.

To make that kind of partnership happen, State Government must first clean up its own act.

It truly grieves me to travel around the state and hear employers talk about the cost of doing business in Ohio -- costs that in many cases are the result of weak and inefficient management by State Government.

Let me use an analogy.

Our businesses are the "athletes" we send out to compete in the global marketplace. We would not think of sending Olympic athletes to Barcelona and Albertville in 1992 wearing lead shoes.

Yet, that is exactly what State Government does to business in Ohio.

It happens when workers' and unemployment compensation costs skyrocket as they've done in recent years, because the bureaus of workers' comp and employment services are just not doing their jobs.

It happens when energy and health care costs -- for business and for all Ohioans -- threaten to go through the roof, and you can't get an answer out of the E.P.A.

We will streamline and narrow the focus of the development department.

We will break the cycle of mismanagement, delays, and bureaucratic bungling in our state agencies to make it easier for business to do business in our State and to guarantee our injured and unemployed workers that they will get what they are entitled to -- fast.

We will fight for Ohio with a more aggressive presence in Washington.

Realizing we are losing two congressmen, our congressional delegation has come together in an unprecedented way to work for Ohio. I congratulate Don Pease, Chalmers Wylie, Lou Stokes, and the rest of that delegation.

We will put forth a comprehensive energy strategy to help keep the lid on energy and utility costs. I have taken a leadership role in trying to keep Southeast Ohio coal jobs and to keep down our utility rates.

Finally, we must seek to make Ohio a leader in the new and emerging technologies.

A splendid partnership among the public, private, and university communities in northeast Ohio has already created a "polymer valley" in that region, offering the largest technical capability in polymers in North America.

The Ohio aerospace institute in Brook Park, coupled with existing and planned efforts at Wright-Patterson air force base, encourage me to believe that Ohio can become the "aerospace capital" of the united states within a few years.

The Thomas Alva Edison program is now using high-tech applications to help our industrial sector regain the competitive edge. We are going to build on this program and make Ohio a gigantic research park by tying together our universities, our research centers, and our businesses.

Ohio was the touchstone of the industrial revolution in America at the turn of the 20th century. I see no reason why we cannot be the touchstone of the technological revolution that will surely usher in the 21st century.

In addition to our commitment to Ohio's youngest generation -- to education -- and to jobs -- we must also take action across a broad range of additional challenges.

We must recommit ourselves to affirmative action and to our minority business enterprise program. Our health and education initiatives represent our best response to the recent report entitled "Ohio's African-American males -- a call to action."

Additionally, I will be bringing the affairs of Ohio's black and hispanic communities directly into the governor's office. We must never forget that the infrastructure of good race relations and human understanding is more important than any roads or bridges we might build.

My Lt. Governor, Mike Dewine, is leading the anti-crime and anti-drug efforts for our administration. His job is to foster innovation, cooperation and coordination among the agencies involved in this battle -- a battle we cannot afford to lose.

Mike Dewine will lead our efforts to revamp Ohio's prison industries by working in partnership with the private sector to provide marketable job skills to prison inmates.

He's also working to establish a victims of crime assistance program in all 88 counties.

On the environment, I remain committed to the passage of deposit legislation. We must stop polluting our environment and filling our landfills with our own recyclable refuse.

Ohio needs deposit legislation passed in 1991.

We must also act to curb the flow of out-of-state waste to and through Ohio, as well as to better control the production and disposal of hazardous materials and toxic waste.

We must also work toward the goal of assuring some type of basic health protection to all Ohioans -- particularly our children who are now uninsured.

And we must explore every feasible opportunity to keep the lid on skyrocketing health care costs for everyone, especially our senior citizens.

Also, I'm pleased with the leadership of Mike Verich and Roy Ray in moving forward with the best implementing legislation possible to allow local governments -- in cooperation with the private sector -- to provide quality, affordable housing for those who need it.

In conclusion, some may see parts of this state of the state message as somber and grim. Certainly, belt-tightening is never a pleasant prospect. But once we have adjusted to the new realities of 1991, I don't believe the news is that bad.

Just look at the successful business in this country that have had to adjust to stay competitive in the world market place.

As an old gardener, I have found over the years that sometimes it takes a little pruning to have a healthy plant.

The budget we present, while containing cuts, will put emphasis squarely on early childhood health and education, and that is something we can all be proud of.

It will be rewarding to put a single-minded focus on this vital issue, and to produce real results for the young people of this state.

It will be rewarding one day to look back and say: "1991 -- that was the year we drew the line and attacked at their roots the problems that lead to welfare and unemployment."

Even more important, the times present us with an historic opportunity to shake up State Government -- turn it inside out -- and put it under the microscope.

I am confident that, with a little pain in the short run, we can target our priorities -- get Ohio competitive in the '90s -- lay the foundation for greatness in the next century -- and improve the quality of life for ourselves today, and our children tomorrow.

With God's help and together, we can do it.

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