GOP governor candidates on key issues

It might seem that the May primary election is far over the horizon, but only three weeks remain for candidates to register for the primaries: the filing deadline is Feb. 7, and for write-ins, the deadline is Feb. 26.

The next big race for Ohioans, coming up May 8, will be to determine who will run for governor this year. John Kasich, a Republican who in early 2016 briefly ran a failed campaign for the GOP presidential nomination, is term-limited and can’t run this year. The Republicans who as of mid-January remain in the primary race are two members of his cabinet, Attorney General Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor.

The Times interviewed both candidates. Interviews with the six-team field for the Democrats will appear next week.

Campaign positions

DeWine: The most important issue is jobs and economic development, and you can’t really talk about that without talking about opioids and the skills gap, the two biggest problems we face as a state. The spotlight is coming back to the Midwest, and we are within 600 miles of 60 percent of the population. We have an abundance of water, the ability to get natural gas efficiently out of the ground, in every part of the state we have cheap natural gas. But when I talk to businessmen and busineswomen, they say they can’t find people to work because they fail drug tests or they don’t have the necessary skills.

Taylor: I think the next governor needs to be well positioned to take the state into the best future. We have nagging problems the next leader needs to be prepared to address. I have a plan to simplify tax compliance for business, a return that will be the size of a postcard, so they can focus on running their businesses. We need CSI (Common Sense Initiative) reform, and we will have a jobs cabinet that all departments will report through to determine if they are business-friendly.

Opioid crisis

DeWine: I have a 12-point plan, and the most important part of it is prevention and education, the cheapest and most cost-effective way. We have to turn the tide against this epidemic, which is killing 15 people a day in Ohio. A large number of people can’t pass a drug test, they’re not living up to their full potential and it’s a tragedy for their families and for the state. We need to focus on addictions … for kindergarten through 12th grade, we have an age-appropriate curriculum for every grade level, something proven to actually work, with a focus on health, wellness, good decision-making. Evidence shows this can dramatically reduce (addiction problems).

Taylor: One thing that’s clear is that we need nonprofits using their resources for a full-treatment continuum, build out that capacity, and as part of a conservative solution, I would request a $1 billion bond to incentivize the private sector. I don’t think there is a government solution, but the government has a role to play. We would use some of those proceeds to incentivize medical research for alternatives to pain treatment as a way to stop addiction.

School funding

DeWine: We should do everything we can to bring about equity in school funding, but that’s not the only thing. For example, Cleveland has very high performing charter schools that are reaching kids who are at risk, and their costs are about $13,000 a head. For city schools, it’s about double that. It’s not all about the money.

Taylor: We will roll out an education proposal that will really focus on what matters in education, not a discussion on money but rather how to improve schools for kids, a solid proposal that looks at where the dollars are spent. We would eliminate Common Core standards and return control to local districts, revamp graduation standards that focus on the results we need. We have lost our minds on testing, doing way too many. Parents need to know how their kids are performing, and the testing system doesn’t do that.

Focus on small cities and rural areas

DeWine: I live out in the country, in a township, and I see what’s happening to mid-size and small cities. I see that it is a problem as far as jobs, they’re just not here anymore. The county seats, towns of 20,000 to 30,000, they don’t have the jobs they did before. I will make sure our economic policy does not leave any part behind, it will concentrate not only on big cities but also those mid-sized cities and all other areas. I’ll take a hard look at that and do everything I can so that economic development and JobsOhio know that small areas need jobs. It’s a real significant problem.

Taylor: We really need to look at communities individually, what are their strengths and opportunities. In southern and southeastern Ohio, we have this extraordinary energy opportunity … We’ll take a hard look at building pipeline infrastructure, a comprehensive energy policy so we know we’re taking full advantage, allowing those opportunities to flourish … I’m prepared to make a list of companies to bring to Ohio, that’s how we take advantage of that, make a hard press for the assets we have in Ohio, beginning with people.

Health and Medicaid

DeWine: We need to focus on wellness and prevention … there are 3 million people on Medicaid in Ohio today, and clearly there are places where we can focus on prevention, save money and give them a better life. It’s unclear what Congress will do about Medicaid, but the amount of money coming from Congress is not sustainable… We’ll have to make decisions to do the best we can. We have to care for the elderly who have no money, kids who are poor. For able-bodied adults, we need to have some work requirement, otherwise there’s an economic disincentive to work, and that’s a real mistake.

Taylor: I don’t think there’s a government solution for health care insurance. We’re not focused enough on access to care. We could bring in across the state a direct primary care program in which patients would work directly with their doctor. It could all be done for $50 a month (per person) outside the health care insurance system, and would allow the doctor to develop relationships. It would truly focus on access for every Ohioan, end Medicaid expansion and provide alternative ways to get able-bodied Ohioans back to work, to reach their potential.

At a glance

Election dates to note in 2018:

¯ Feb. 7: Declarations must be filed by primary candidates.

¯ Feb. 26: Deadline for filing as a write-in candidate for primaries.

¯ April 9: Deadline for voters to register for primary elections.

¯ May 5, noon: Deadline for boards of election to receive applications for primary ballots by mail.

¯ May 8, 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., primary election.

¯ Oct. 9: Deadline for voters to register for general election.

¯ Nov. 6, 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.: General Election Day.

What’s ahead

In the Jan. 24 Marietta Times:

The Democratic Party candidates for governor.