In his first state of the state address, Ohio governor John Kasich (R) was jeered as he called for collective bargaining reforms in the Buckeye state, even though the subject was barely mentioned in the 65 minute speech.
By a 17-16 vote, a bill that would restrict collective bargaining for firefighters, police, teachers and other public workers passed the state Senate last week. It now goes to the Republican-controlled House. Kasich says the reforms in the bill are needed so local governments can control their budgets.
"Frankly, folks, the provisions of collective bargaining reform are examples of what we wanted to do to allow people to control their costs," Kasich said as boos rained down from protesters watching in the chamber.
He then addressed the passion of protesters gathered in and outside the state house whose chants could be heard at other points during the speech.
"I appreciate passionate people who don't agree with us... People who feel strongly, I respect them, but they also need to respect those who don't always agree with them, Ok?" he said to extended applause from Republicans.
Union leaders have called the bill an "attack on the middle class" and say that it won't address Ohio's budget problems.
Kasich vowed not to raise taxes as Ohio's budget moves forward. "We cannot tax our way to prosperity," he said. "We can't cut our way there either."
And the Ohio governor said the state needs new strength as it moves into the21st century, pointing to joblessness and poverty as enemies and noting that young people, including one third of college graduates, are fleeing the state.
"The enemy in Ohio right now is joblessness. The enemy in Ohio right now is poverty. And it is up to all of us to work together to defeat that enemy."