CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - FOX19 put in a request about a month ago to talk with Governor Kasich one on one, and we asked him some questions on your behalf.
There has been no other state lawmaker who has spawned more reaction since taking office. For example: his support of Senate Bill 5, the legislation that would limit collective bargaining for 350,000 teachers, police officers, firefighters and other state workers.
His controversial plan to increase the number of publicly funded school vouchers which would give more public school students the change to go to private school instead.
Also, we wanted to know more about the re-negotiated tax deal with the group who will develop Cincinnati's new casino; despite voters already approving a plan before Kasich took office.
FOX19 had the opportunity to ask some tough questions; including how he and Kentucky's governor can get something done to fix the Brent Spence Bridge. We also asked him about the deal he made with Roc Gaming over Cincinnati's casino, and about whether he feels that Senate Bill 5 will be overturned by voters, and what that will mean for the state.
Here is the question and answer session:
BEN SWANN: Do you think this city has been held back in terms of its overall philosophy and obviously in its view of how to grow itself? As you have said, there has been a huge exodus.
JOHN KASICH: I said that the things we have to do in Ohio is to make it a cool place to live. And maybe that's where those comments come from. I think Cincinnati is an unbelievable town, I mean it's where the South meets the North. It's just that in the state, we have made it difficult to business. I mean the taxes are too high, the regulations to severe.
In an exclusive sit-down interview with Governor John Kasich, we talked about some of the most controversial issues surrounding his administration thus far; but we began with the controversy over the Brent Spence Bridge; a bridge that is dangerous for drivers and played a part in a 42-year-old man's death last week, but is nowhere near being replaced. Remember, the federal environmental studies are not expected to be finished until 2013.
BEN SWANN: By 2013, I think that nothing can be done until federal environmental studies are done. How much is the EPA slowing down projects like that throughout the state?
JOHN KASICH: The federal EPA by in large slows everything down, but we have an EPA director who is pretty darn effective. He's effective in getting through permits and making decisions, and pretty effective in working with the feds.
BEN SWANN: Do you think there is a possibility that you will be able to speed up the timeline ahead of 2013?
JOHN KASICH: You know, I don't. I hate to say that I don't know but I don't know. I'd have to check and get back to you because I don't want to make a promise and then be talking out of my hat. What I've told Jerry Wray (Head of the Ohio Department of Transportation) and when I met with the Governor of Kentucky, is that we've got to move on this thing. This has to get done.
BEN SWANN: Let me ask you about the situation with We Are Ohio, the group collecting 714,000 signatures, which they say they can get the SB5 issue onto the November ballot.
JOHN KASICH: I hope they don't overturn it, and the reason why we do it is because we want to give local governments the tools to control costs. And what we are saying for public employees is that you shouldn't be able to negotiate your healthcare and your pensions. In fact, when you look at healthcare costs, the average city worker pays 9 percent and the average person in the private sector is paying 23 percent
BEN SWANN: If voters do overturn it, where does that leave the state?
JOHN KASICH: It's going to mean that local governments are not going to have the tools and it will also create another additional branding problem.
We also covered the Governor's win in getting taxpayers an additional $110 million from ROC Gaming as part of his renegotiated casino deal. Kasich said he didn't want to call it a victory, but said he was pleased with the outcomes. So after all the protests at what detractors were calling Kasich's Crater, we had to know.
BEN SWANN: Did anybody come back to you and say, thanks for going? We didn't trust it at the time, we thought it was a bad deal. You what, you came back and you got us more? Anybody?
JOHN KASICH: When you talk to people and you say what did you think? Again, this is not the kind of a job where people say, aren't you great. You do here it and I don't pay a lot of attention to it. I was just please that we got it done and we got it done as quickly as we could.
We also talked to the Governor about the issue of school reform. A major issue he is already moving on.
BEN SWANN: I heard you talking about waiting for Superman and that you want to show it throughout the state. Tell me about the impact that movie had on you.
JOHN KASICH: When you watch Waiting for Superman, which everybody should see, and you have a child represented by a ball in cage and they spin it around like you are at a bingo game, and they yank a ball out and there is limited balls, and as many people out there that want opportunity, its emotional.
We're doubling vouchers, we are lifting the caps off of charter schools we're gonna have teacher evaluations, but this is what I want to say to the teachers, we are not going to do evaluations until they are fully involved in this.
The governor also announced, for the first time, that the $8 billion budget deficit that he inherited when he came into office five months ago has been closed.
BEN SWANN: Have you solved the budget gap?
JOHN KAISCH: Yes, it's done. It's done. We have a balanced budget year one. No structural deficits, balanced budget year two. People said it couldn't happen without a tax increase and we got it done; this because of the team of people around me. This represents the single biggest reform and comprehensive budget at least in 100 years, maybe in Ohio history.
On Friday, Kasich will lay out how that budget was fixed and the steps he took to get it fixed. Part of that plan is included no longer locking up 12,000 low risk criminals and the privatization of some of the state's prisons.
FOX19 will cover the details when the announcement is made.