The two men running to be governor — Democrat Richard Cordray and Republican Mike DeWine — each made the case Thursday that Ohio needs to address the workforce development gap with a full-spectrum of training programs.
“This is really a tragedy that we have in the state of Ohio that we have many people who want to work but they don’t have the skills to fill the job openings that are available and we have many employers who want to hire but they can’t find the employees who have what they have to bring them into the workforce,” Cordray said. “Closing that gap is really important.”
He said his administration would focus on helping small businesses, offering industry certification training as well as two-year and four-year degrees and position Ohio as a tolerant, progressive state for all workers.
Cordray and DeWine each spoke to the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce at an event held at the PSA Airlines hangar at the Dayton International Airport.
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DeWine touted a “bold, aggressive, cutting edge” economic development plan. “Our jobs plan keeps people as the priority and helping Ohioans get good jobs is the most important thing we can do for our families,” he said.
DeWine ceded much of his microphone time to his running mate, Jon Husted, who once worked as a Dayton Chamber vice president.
Husted said their plan calls for training 10,000 workers a year in “nano or micro” certification programs, boosting the number of students graduating from career technical schools, streamlining government regulations and carving out economic opportunity zones with tax advantages for investing in them.
When it comes to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base — Ohio’s largest single-site employer — DeWine and Husted said the next Base Realignment and Closure process should be seen as an opportunity to win more jobs and programs for the base. Cordray said he would fight vigorously for WPAFB in the event of a BRAC.
Cordray’s running mate Betty Sutton said their administration would work to revamp Ohio laws so that military service members qualify for in-state tuition as soon as they move to Ohio and their spouses can more easily acquire professional licenses.
The two slates did not appear on stage at the same time. Instead, DeWine and Husted spoke for nearly 50 minutes while Cordray and Sutton followed, speaking for nearly 30 minutes to crowd of about 100 business leaders.
“We are going to be on the side of lower taxes and less regulation,” Husted said. He added that their administration wants the legal authority to waive any regulation “that stands in the way of job creation.”
Cordray refuted the allegation made by Husted that he wants to raise taxes.
“I’m against tax increases at this time. We do not need them in the state of Ohio.What we need instead is to make the right investments in our workforce and in our small businesses, our home-grown businesses here so that we can thrive and create opportunity across this state,” Cordray said.
He also said he wants to put a bond issue of at least $1.8-billion before Ohio voters to pay for roads, bridges, underground infrastructure, public transit and broadband technology.
DeWine pledged to increase funding for child welfare and the foster care system.
Husted said that people enrolled in expanded Ohio Medicaid would have work and wellness requirements, including a provision that if they can’t pass a drug test, they’d be required to seek treatment.
“Don’t look at that as punitive. It’s not. If someone has a drug problem, they can’t work. We need to help them,” DeWine said.
DeWine and Cordray are in a tight race for the governor’s office, which is open for the first time in eight years. It is a rematch for the two candidates, who faced off in 2010 when DeWine ousted Cordray from the Ohio attorney general’s office.
Cordray, who has held local, state and federal offices for 18 of the past 27 years, is endorsed by former President Obama.
DeWine, who has held local, state and federal offices for all but four of the past 42 years, is endorsed by President Trump. At a rally this month in central Ohio, Trump gave a shout out to DeWine in the audience: “your next governor, Mike DeWine, who is terrific.”
DeWine, of Cedarville, is backed by business groups: Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Ohio Manufacturers Association, NFIB Ohio.