Editor's note: Our sister newspaper, The Marietta Times, posed a half-dozen questions to two candidates for governor, incumbent Democrat Ted Strickland and Republican John Kasich.
The state of Ohio certainly will be affected by several initiatives at the federal level. As governor, would you use your office to influence the following?
1. Would you seek to have Congress repeal the health care reform bill?
Kasich: I am opposed to the federal health care legislation, and believe it should be repealed and replaced with common-sense measures like allowing insurance companies to compete across state lines and limiting frivolous lawsuits that drive up costs.
Strickland: As a result of health care reform, nearly 1 million uninsured Ohioans will, for the first time, have a pathway to affordable health insurance. Insurance companies will no longer decide who gets quality health care in this country and who does not. Children with pre-existing conditions will immediately be protected from being denied health care. Young college graduates can remain on their parents' policy while searching for their first job. And, senior citizens will have access to continuous drug coverage, without the gap that happens with the existing prescription drug donut hole.
2. Do you view the cap-and-trade legislation as helpful or harmful to the Ohio economy?
Strickland: As governor, I have stood up to the Obama administration on its climate change approach. While I feel that climate change is an important issue that should be addressed, it needs to be done in a manner that takes into account the importance of Ohio's coal industry and our manufacturing base that relies on affordable power. I will continue to oppose the Obama administration's approach until Ohio's needs are addressed.
Kasich: Cap and trade will be immensely harmful to our state, kill Ohio's low-cost coal power and cripple our manufacturing jobs. Our industries must be competitive in a global marketplace. We need affordable, reliable energy if we are to be successful, and with its abundance of coal, Ohio has an advantage in this area.
We must make sure we're doing everything possible to prevent Ohio's utilities from having to buy expensive electricity from out-of-state. Coal is one of Ohio's major assets, and we should maximize its potential while investing in technologies to make its use as clean as possible, as well as improving technologies that will lead to greater conservation and efficiency.
While coal and natural gas are both critical, we need to promote all sources of energy, including nuclear and renewables, to diversify our energy portfolio and spur new industries and job creation.
3. Would you encourage Congress to extend or make permanent the Bush tax cuts for all Americans?
Strickland: As governor, I have cut taxes for Ohioans. Our state's income tax has been reduced by 17 percent since 2005. Additionally, I have cut taxes for seniors, Ohio businesses, military retirees, and on advanced energy projects that create Ohio jobs, like the new solar farm that will be built in southeast Ohio. This project will create more than 600 construction and manufacturing jobs.
4. Do you support President Barack Obama's education initiatives?
Strickland: As governor, I passed an ambitious education reform plan. Under my administration, our K-12 education system has gone from 27th to fifth in the nation. Ohio was the only state in the nation to freeze college tuition during the recession. We have nearly 66,000 more Ohioans enrolled in higher education today than when I took office.
I believe that the quality of a child's education should not depend on his or her ZIP code. All students deserve a 21st-century education that will allow them to reach their fullest potential. The new school reforms I signed into law will increase the state's share of funding for education from 48 percent to 61 percent, reducing local property tax burdens and ensuring that students in rural districts have the same opportunities available to them as their peers in other parts of Ohio.
Our work was validated in August when Ohio was one of 12 states to win federal Race to the Top funds. These funds will be used to educate Ohio's children for the new global economy. Our goal is to use this opportunity to take Ohio's education system from fifth to first in the country.
I support much of the education work by the Obama administration at all levels, including early care and education, K-12 education, higher education and workforce training. However, the president and I have differing positions on charter schools.
I am deeply troubled by Congressman Kasich's desire to repeal our landmark education reforms. Repealing our reforms would take Ohio back to an unconstitutional, inequitable system of funding and shift the burden back to local communities, causing property taxes to increase.
Kasich: We must hold Ohio's entire education system accountable to ensure that all of our students are achieving at high levels. We need to set higher standards so our children can compete. We need to get education dollars to the classroom. Ohio is 47th in the nation in getting money to the classroom, and 9th in spending on bureaucracy and overhead. Instead of funding bureaucracy, we should allow funds to follow children to the classroom. We need to empower teachers to be in control of their classrooms and principals to operate their schools efficiently and effectively. All parents and students deserve high-quality education choices, and we need to use technology to engage students in creative ways. Charter schools, scholarships and voucher programs, and online education can serve as incubators for good ideas that can be translated into the public system to drive innovation.
5. Would you urge Congress to pass or kill the Employee Free Choice Act, which would deny workers the right to a secret ballot on union organization and would require a federal mediator dictate a labor contract if the company and union cannot agree in a definite time period?
Kasich: I would encourage Congress to oppose it.
Strickland: As governor, I will not have a vote on this legislation. As a member of congress and as governor, I have been a supporter of collective bargaining and the minimum wage, and I opposed free trade agreements that have outsourced Ohio jobs. On the other hand, my opponent, Congressman Kasich, voted for free trade agreements that outsourced our jobs and voted against raising the minimum wage.
6. What specifically would you do to make Ohio more enticing and friendly to those wishing to relocate businesses to Ohio?
Strickland: To create good jobs here in Ohio, we must continue to improve education, make Ohio more business-friendly, and invest in high-growth industries just as we have done over the last four years.
During my administration, we held college tuition in Ohio to the lowest increase in the nation. Today, nearly 66,000 more Ohioans are enrolled in our universities than in 2006 and record numbers of unemployed Ohioans are getting the skills they need for the new economy. As we know, businesses will locate where they can find the most skilled workers.
We have made it easier to do business in Ohio by continuing to reduce business taxes and erasing and amending over 2,000 state rules to make them easier for businesses to follow. Today, Ohio's small business climate is the best in the Midwest and our taxes are the lowest.
We have combated the recession with targeted investments in high-growth industries such as advanced energy and clean coal.
We already are seeing the results of our work. A freshwater wind farm will be built on Lake Erie, a new coal mine is opening up in eastern Ohio, and AEP has announced the construction of one of the largest solar projects in the country right here in southeast Ohio.
I also strongly support the job creation and business attraction efforts of the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Governor's Office of Appalachia. These programs bring additional investments into Washington County to improve infrastructure and add jobs. One recent example is the investment that created the business incubator in Washington County, which will bring additional jobs to the region.
Unfortunately, my opponent has routinely tried to cut funding or eliminate the Appalachian Regional Commission. When recently asked if the Kasich-Taylor ticket has rethought their opposition to the ARC, they refused to express their support for this commission and the important economic development resources it provides for this area.
Kasich: Job One for Ohio's next governor is reviving the state's economy so we can begin creating jobs again. To do this, we must once again make Ohio a state with a business-friendly environment. We must modernize state government so taxpayers begin getting their money's worth, and then bring down the cost of government so we can start reducing taxes. We also must fix Ohio's uncompetitive workers' compensation system, bring common sense to our regulatory environment, eliminate frivolous lawsuits and improve job training. Implementing these important reforms will help get Ohio back on track and provide valuable relief to our struggling economy.