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Don't overlook the high-tech initiatives in the governor's budget proposal

Published: February 12, 2017 12:00 AM

COLUMBUS -- Gov. John Kasich was on the road the day after his biennial budget rollout, talking to an audience in suburban Dayton about some of the provisions included in the two-year spending plan.

His focus was on innovation, and Dayton was an appropriate place for such talk, being the home to the Wright Brothers and their world-changing development of manned flight.

Sure, Orville and Wilbur took their historic leap at Kitty Hawk, N.C., but, Kasich pointed out to reporters last week, the bulk of the work happened here in a Dayton-area field.

Not that you would have known that at the time, the governor said.

"The development of the aircraft was at Huffman Prairie in Dayton," Kasich said. "And here's what's so amazing: They were flying that airplane [and the newspaper] wouldn't even send a reporter out. That's unbelievable. And nobody would go and see this thing."

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Kasich was feeling comparably ignored by the media after his budget announcement last week, with headlines that focused on sales tax hikes, driving on the shoulder of highways and other issues and not the innovative, high-tech stuff the executive plan proposes.

Like funding for the development of self-driving vehicles, including funding for a new test track in central Ohio and the extension of smart highways in central and northeastern Ohio.

And work on drones that can fly outside of the line of sight of the operator, setting the stage for parcel deliveries and all sorts of new ways of doing things in the future.

And the appointment of a dedicated chief innovation officer to better commercialize the research of university scientists and others.

And the cutting-edge use of data analytics to improve governmental operations.

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And the innovative use of sensors to assist disabled Ohioans.

Ohio, the governor says, is leading the way on these and other high-tech programs.

"Technology, the future, is always difficult," Kasich said. "We are moving on all fronts on technology This is an unbelievable unveiling of technology in a state where, we'll lead the way."

The governor announced most of those initiatives during press conferences earlier in the month, which likely led to less breaking coverage or focus in news stories the day the budget was unveiled.

There will be lots more coverage of the governor's two-year spending plan in coming weeks and months, and lots more opportunities to read about the innovative ideas contained therein.

As you think about the possibility of paying more for a pack of cigarettes or a can of beer or any other proposed policy changes included in the executive budget, take some time to learn about autonomous vehicles and drones and predictive analytics and any of the number of other high-tech plans the governor has offered.

And for people like me?

"Please don't be one of those reporters that doesn't go out to see the Wright Brothers fly the plane," Kasich said. "Take a look at this technology and how it's going to change people's lives dramatically for the better."

Marc Kovac is the Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at mkovac@recordpub.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.


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