We have unprecedented opportunity to bring 13 billion of Ohio's tax dollars back to Ohio to solve our problem. Our money coming home to fix our problems. It's a unique opportunity. We've never gotten our fair share. Well, I think it makes sense to bring this money home. And this money can provide health coverage for the poor, a great number of them who are working poor individuals who make less than $15,415. They can't afford health care. What are we going to do, leave them out in the street, walk away from them when we have a chance to help them? The program provides a pathway for these individuals to get basic health care from a doctor. You know where they get their health care now? They get it in an emergency room. Try going and getting primary care health care in an emergency room.
First of all, it's not efficient, it's effective. It costs everybody more money when they do that because the emergency room's the highest cost operation you can get for health care. And it's not fair for them because they don't get healthier, so they're sicker and we pay for that as well. We need to get them primary care basic coverage. Furthermore, the federal government's going to end this aid to hospitals that serve the uninsured right now. The federal government's going to phase this out. You know what this is going to do to rural hospitals? Do you know what this is going to do to urban hospitals if we turn this down?
I come into Lima today, one of the first buildings I see is the big hospital up there. We don't want to take a chance on wrecking that place. Going to make sure that they're healthy, they're an integral part of our community.
You know, I'm not a supporter of Obamacare. We rejected the federal government telling us to run the state-run exchange. They didn't give us the flexibility that would have been best for our state. Mary and I sat down, we weren't going to go for that. Didn't make sense for us. We — I don't believe in the individual mandate. I don't like a lot of the programs that are going to drive insurance rates up.
But in this case, extending Medicaid benefits will help us on many levels, including the positive impact this decision can have on the mentally ill and the addicted. Some of them live under bridges, some of them live on streets, some of them are in our jails tonight. One of the sheriffs that I was with the other day told a story of a man whose life had gone really pretty perfectly. He got sick, started living in the woods. He's now in the jail. He wraps scriptures around his fingers to ward off evil. The sheriff told me, he doesn't belong in our jails. It's a chance to rebuild the safety net that we've all wanted to since we have released people from, from these mental hospitals.
My personal faith in the lessons I learned from the Good Book, they're like, run my life. I mean, I'm serious, they're very important to me. Not just on Sunday, but just about every day. I gotta tell you, I can't look at the disabled, I can't look at the poor, I can't look at the mentally ill, I can't look at the addicted and think we ought to ignore them.
For those that live in the shadows of life, those who are the least among us, I will not accept the fact that the most vulnerable in our state should be ignored. We can help them. And I want all of you to think about this.
I know it's controversial. I just want to take you one place. One day your son comes home, your daughter comes home, says, Mom, my brain's not working right — put it in your family. Put somebody that is in your family who becomes the way ward child. They come home one day, they can't get a job — put it on your doorstep, and you'll understand how hard it is.
I respect the decision you're all going to make. I know it's controversial, just please examine your conscious, keep an open mind, and I think we can work and get there. I sure hope so.
You know, we're an administration that thinks no one should be left behind. And, look, I think what's so great is we're growing jobs, our economy is stronger, we're running surpluses, our credit is up, we've got industries thriving, but we're not ignoring the weak. Jim Buchy, the Lord doesn't want us to ignore them.
I want to thank the Legislature for agreeing to mandate the autism coverage for families. I called a lady right before we announced it. She burst into tears, she was the Joan of Arc of fighting for autism coverage. She made me cry. You know, these families are under so much stress. They all play by the rules, and they're hurting. They called it the Christmas Miracle.
Kevin, thank you. Where's the mayor — right here — thank you. They called it the Christmas Miracle, didn't they? Thank you for helping the families who have children with autism. They are better in the state of Ohio now because of what the legislature has done.
We gave $5 million to the food banks to alleviate hunger. Oh, my wife, God bless her. She goes to the Backpack Program, think about this, on a Friday night, for kids who are embarrassed to take food home on Friday night, stick the food in the backpack. They go home and they can eat because when we didn't do this, they went to school on Monday — am I right, Senator Lehner — they went to school on Monday, they couldn't learn. Five million dollars for food banks.
Two million dollars in that special grant for Children's Hospital. I mean, what a great organization that is, and they're working together all over the state. I think we have the best Children's hospitals in the country, if not the world.
And I also want to tell you, I remember the day we announced that, and the look on the parents' face, these moms and dads who have the severely disabled children, and you know what we did, we said your kid doesn't have to work in a sheltered workshop, they can work in a normal business setting. Oh, these moms and dads were so excited. I'm just excited thinking about it.
Last year we gave Teresa Flores the Governor's Courage Award for what she did on human trafficking. I want to thank the Legislature. We passed a bipartisan comprehensive human trafficking law. Thank you, Representative Fedor. And I'll tell you, it's been only six months, there have been five traffickers indicted in central Ohio alone. And we are — we're dedicated to surrounding the victims and they're pretty awesome people.
Again, my wife works with them at the Catch Court in Franklin County. And these ladies, I'll tell you, you ought to hear them talk, they're fantastic. And some of you, the press was there over Christmas and I had them tell their stories unannounced. They can heal and they can have a chance, too.
Big agenda, isn't it? A lot of stuff here: turnpike, and higher ed, and K-12, and tax reform, and, wow, right, wow. I mean, things are happening in Ohio. You may not like it all, but it's pretty cool and look at the total picture.
It's a big lift, it's a big lift to get this done.
And we need inspiration, and we get it from people right here in our state. You know, I started this Governor's Courage Awards — I just love this thing to tell you the truth — because what it does is recognize a lot of people that would never be recognized if we hadn't created the awards.
This year I hold up the example of Wapakoneta's own Neil Armstrong, who's an inspiration to all of us. Remember? Some of you are too young in the Legislature, but remember, "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
But what people will tell you about Neil Armstrong, he never looked for the limelight. He never wanted to get on the top of the mountain and shout, you know, "Look at me."
I met him once. He was so gentle. If you talked to his neighbors, he was just as good a guy as you could ever find, and he had the gift of humility. I think it was because he realized that even though he walked on the moon, and it was so historic, he stood on the shoulders of thousands of other people. That's what he did.
His sons, Rick and Mark, are here tonight. And they are here to accept this award on the basis of that fantastic achievement but also on the basis of what we can learn from a great man's humility. Please join me in welcoming Rick and Mark, the sons of Neil Armstrong.
Well, this one, this is going to get you out of your chairs, too. Sondra Williams, she spent a large portion of her life being misdiagnosed and misunderstood. As an adult with high-functioning autism, she fought through the uncertainty and the lack of understanding that surrounds autism spectrum disorders and established herself as an advocate for the condition.
Her mission has been to break the mold of ignorance, to educate the public, and offer guidance and support to those who are dealing with similar struggles. She's not only talking the talk, but, you know, she's walking the walk, let me tell you. She is currently the director of Autism Research Institute's Youth Division. She mentors young people who have autism and gives them hope and courage and strength. She's a member of the OCALI Advisory Board, she's on the Autism Society's panel of advisers, she's even an author. She wrote a book called "Reflections of Self."
This is a special lady, ladies and gentlemen, and she's getting the Governor's Courage Award for what she has done to serve all of us and particularly those that have been in need in the State of Ohio. Please welcome Sondra Williams.
Later this month, Ohio commemorates the first anniversary of a school shooting that took the lives of three students and injured three others in Chardon High School. I was there for a couple of days. The principal, the superintendent, the teachers, the guidance counselors, the staff — what a privilege for me to be able to have a chance to spend time with them and learn from them. They're unbelievable.
It's not easy there, even today. It's still tough. And they're trying to put the pieces back together. Some of the pieces are gone. We know they're never going to be quite the same.
I went there and I could sit there with them because as many of you have in this auditorium, I've looked in the black hole. The tragic and sudden death of my mother and father put me there, but I've healed. The Lord's grace has healed me. And when I pray for this great, incredible group of people, and when I think about the staff and the students, some of whom are still struggling, and I think about the people of Chardon, I pray they're going to heal, they're going to heal. They're going to because they are tough and compassionate and smart. They're going to make it.
But what courage they showed on that fateful day, and what courage they have shown ever since. It was appropriate to honor today, with the Governor's Courage Award, those leaders, those staff members who've worked day and night to bring peace, to bring understanding to all the people of Chardon so that at the end of the day, those killing s and that shooting will not be lost in vain. It's going to make them somehow through the tragedy better for it.
But we will remember those who have lost their lives and those who have been injured, and we'll pray for them. But in the meantime, I'd like to take a second to honor the great staff from Chardon High School for their great work.
How about all the winners? Huh, how about all the winners?
Ladies and gentlemen, we are in a transformational stage in Ohio. A lot of Ohioans feel it. You know, we can debate the details, but we can never lose sight of the vision. If we look around the country, we see so much dysfunction, so much anger, anger. I've been in politics a long time. I've been the target of some this anger. I got to tell you, fortunately, it doesn't bother me, it just doesn't. Because when you're about a mission, you don't get stuck by it.
But what does bother me is the tone we communicate to our children, the tone we communicate to each other. Too many people are losing faith in our government. They're tired of the name calling and the personal attacks and the partisanship, and I'm right and you're wrong, and that's OK to have that debate. But it starts to get into name calling and personal. Let me tell you something, the public's sick of it. They reject it.
You know, in, we see it sometimes in Ohio, but all across America if anger, vitriol, partisanship prevail, our children, our state, and our country will continue to suffer. People never remember positively those who tear down. Un-huh, they don't. I've been around a long time, folks. They don't remember those who seek to destroy or tear down.
Do you know who they respect? Those who build up. The builders are what's remembered. People sent us here to solve problems and improve their lives. That's why they sent us here. What a unique opportunity that we have to do that.
You know, I walk outside the State Capital — I can't wait till the birds are chirping out there — and I look over the north, and I see a man in a hurry over there carrying a briefcase, a big statue of a man carrying a briefcase who was always in a hurry. He was one of Ohio's greatest men and greatest problem solvers. His name was James A. Rhodes. I knew him, he was something. You think I'm something with all these things, you should have met him. He was a guy always on the move.
And then when I go in, you know, I go up those escalators to where my office is located, 'pardner' is there — the big statue of Vern Riffe. Vern was something, he was really something. And as I got older and as he got older, we became friends. I got to know him better and better and better.
Rhodes and Riffe, they worked together, they solved the problems, and they built a stronger Ohio.
There have been times when we worked together. Some don't like to think about it, but it's true. Collateral sanctions where we're giving a person the chance to redeem themselves and get work, a chance to redeem themselves and have another chance.
Cleveland Schools plan. Boy, I haven't seen two groups of legislators work harder together than that little group, that little cabal that put that plan together in the House and the Senate, and struggled. And I remember bursting into your office that night, Bill Batchelder, and how excited everybody was about that plan — it's going to fix Cleveland in my opinion.
Human trafficking, I've mentioned.
Sentencing reform — can't lock them up, can you, forever? Can't do it. So we're giving them another chance there as well. And I want to thank the prosecutors for working with us.
And JobsOhio, too. Who would have ever thought that at the beginning of JobsOhio, that JobsOhio, too, would receive bipartisan support.
And the energy bill where we put the regulations in place. Old Sean O'Brien, I mean, I got ta a call, they said, well, O'Brien wants all these amendments. I said, well, give them to him, let's pass the darn thing. And we've got the best rules and regulations in the country on fracking.
You know, we gotta look for ways to work together. If we do, we can reduce poverty, give opportunity, we can grow jobs, we can educate our children. And you know the great thing is, when they find out about Ohio, when they come here and they spend the weekend, they start thinking about moving here. And it's because we get it right.
If we unite and we stay together, nothing, but nothing can stop us from becoming the greatest State and the greatest country in the world. God bless you, God bless Ohio, and God bless the United States of America.
Source: Ohio Governor's Office.