Some Ohio State student leaders had mixed reactions to Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s college initiatives, including tying state funding for colleges to graduation rates and giving veterans college credit based on their training.
The Republican governor, who has been named by some outlets as a potential presidential candidate for 2016, gave his State of the State speech Monday evening in Medina, Ohio.
“They will only get paid if students complete courses or students get degrees,” Kasich said. “College and universities will not get any of these state dollars that have gone to them traditionally based on enrollment.”
Miranda Onnen, vice chair of OSU College Republicans and a third-year in political science and economics, said she thinks that shift is an important one.
“It’s important that we have a culture in Ohio that encourages graduation of college such that students are graduating with less debt. I think between the schools only receiving state funding based on a pattern of success and the increased emphasis on vocation schools, the speech had some great ideas for the future of education in Ohio,” Onnen said in an email.
Undergraduate Student Government President Taylor Stepp, a fourth-year in public affairs, said he was proud of what former OSU President E. Gordon Gee had done related to the initiative.
“President Gee led this effort,” Stepp said. “I applaud the governor for making graduation such a priority for our public education institutions in Ohio.”
College Democrats President Vince Hayden, a third-year in political science, said, though, he thinks the plan will benefit OSU but not all schools, adding that it’s easy to find graduation rates, but much more difficult to look at the number of students passing classes.
Kasich said he wants to expand vocational training in public schools.
“We want kids to have a connection to (vocational education) in the 7th grade,” Kasich said.
He also announced plans to give veteran military service members college credit for military training and experience they have had.
“If you can drive a truck from Kandahar to Kabul, Afghanistan, you can drive a truck from Columbus to Cleveland,” Kasich said.
Stepp said he thinks it makes sense to give veterans college credit for their experiences.
“We owe such a tremendous amount to our veterans,” he said.
Kasich also proposed a round of tax cuts that would bring Ohio’s income tax rate to less than five percent. He said he wants to reward working people by keeping more of their money in their own hands.
Onnen said she agrees with that philosophy.
“Having a tax break such that the state tax rate are at 5 percent is a great idea for Ohio businesses and investments,” she said. “The lower taxes are, the more money is in the pockets of Ohioans to reinvest in the economy. I think Gov. Kasich reestablished his commitment to ensuring the growth of Ohio’s economy in the future.”
Hayden, though, said the plan could cause problems.
“Reducing tax revenue, no matter where you slice it, ends up being a problematic thing in the long run,” Hayden said. “The problem is the money has to come from somewhere.”
Kasich also announced plans for continuing education, including a system to help people who don’t have high school diplomas earn their diplomas at two-year colleges.
Kasich is running for re-election this fall, but he said he hopes that doesn’t get in the way of getting his announced initiatives.
“Please don’t let the fact that we’re in an election year make us weak (or) too partisan,” Kasich said. “The nation and the world, they have their eyes on Ohio.”