The two major party candidates for governor of Ohio held their third and final debate Monday night.
Former head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Democratic candidate Richard Cordray outlined a plan to increase spending and reform the criminal justice system that he maintained could be done without raising Ohio’s taxes.
Current Attorney General and Republican candidate Mike DeWine called for more prudence on government spending, suggesting that Cordray can’t drastically increase spending without tax increases. He also called for criminal justice reform, but said it needed to be done more carefully than Cordray has suggested.
Spending and Taxes
Cordray framed his plan as a way to create an economy that works with everyone, instead of just people at the top. To do this, he suggested Medicaid expansion, broadband expansion and increased spending on early childhood education, business development, workforce training and public transit.
Education programs that Cordray suggested needed more funds included daycare and preschool access across the state. For workforce development, he said the state needs to fund more certification and apprenticeship programs.
Additionally, Cordray said he would work to restore the local government fund. Towns have criticized cuts in local government funding, suggesting it’s causing them to raise taxes locally. Counties also have criticized it, mostly from the standpoint of unfunded mandates being handed down by state government.
DeWine, however, said the next governor needed to use prudence when framing the budget.
While DeWine agreed with Cordray that Medicaid expansion is important, he also said the state needs to implement work requirements, to ensure that able-bodied recipients are encouraged to come back into the workforce.
DeWine also voiced support for more spending on early childhood development and said that the state should work on expanding current programs already in place.
On a number of other issues, DeWine said Cordray is misleading the public and trying to promise things he cannot accomplish. For example, DeWine says he will work with local governments, but cannot commit to fully restoring the local government fund, because it might not be feasible without raising taxes. He said that Cordray is misleading when he tries to “promise everything in the world to everybody.”
Criminal Justice Reform
DeWine and Cordray both said they support criminal justice reform, but disagreed on the pace at which it needs to move. They also both suggested that their opponent would not succeed at fighting drug crime.
Cordray said criminal justice reform is an economic necessity. While there have been some reform measures under Republican Gov. John Kasich to push for criminal justice reform, Cordray said they are not moving quickly enough and accused DeWine of supporting a climate that imprisons too many. He said that the current demand for workers is not being met with adequate pushes by the state to get them back to work.
Additionally, Cordray defended Issue 1, a ballot initiative DeWine opposes that would decrease drug penalties across the board. He also touted his endorsement from the Fraternal Order of Police and argued that DeWine has failed to contain opioid and fentanyl drug problems as attorney general.
Similar to his view on the economy, DeWine suggested prudence by arguing that Issue 1 goes too far too quickly, and would be a “total disaster.” Similar to Kasich, DeWine supports moves that will lessen penalties for certain crimes, but he says that some decreases in fentanyl drug crimes would be dangerous for the state.
DeWine said the current Republican administration supported reasonable reforms to encourage businesses to hire former felons, but that such measures need to be approached with caution. For example, Ohioans would not want a sex offender getting a job at a daycare, he said.