Candidates promise education relief

Angela Hoover

Governor hopefuls discuss improvements for education

Democrat Ted Strickland spoke Wednesday afternoon at the Canton McKinley Marriott Grand Hotel during the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce Gubernatorial Forum. Strickland plans to run for governor of Ohio in the fall. ALLIEY BENDER | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

Ohio gubernatorial candidates Bryan E. Flannery, Jim Petro and Ted Strickland discussed ways to improve the state’s education system yesterday afternoon in downtown Canton.

The candidates participated in a luncheon forum of moderated questions held at the at the Canton McKinley Marriott Grand Hotel.

Flannery said he would like to see Ohio follow the footsteps of Ireland by providing free college. He suggested lottery proceeds to help get the state “toward that type of vision.”

Flannery has served as a Lakewood city councilman and two-term state representative, in addition to owning a small business.

If elected, he said he would immediately place tuition caps on all state universities and initiate tax credits for students. Flannery also said he believes the state can eventually free up revenues that universities spend on remedial classes by reforming the public school system.

In fact, Flannery’s biggest battle to champion is public school funding reform, he said.

Petro, who has been the state’s attorney general since 2003, promised to lower state college tuition by 30 percent, effective July 1, 2008, if elected governor. He proposes to do this through tax reform and restructuring the state government. This restructuring would condense 23 cabinet departments down to nine, he said.

Strickland, U.S. Congressman for Ohio and Methodist minister, said he “cannot tolerate that other states are 50 percent less,” in tuition costs.

“If that continues we’ll see an increased outward migration of our best and brightest,” he said.

State universities are no longer public institutions because they are only partially state-funded, so the state must find resources to lower tuition costs, he said.

“The most important thing someone in elected office does is make decisions on competing interests,” he said. “We don’t have enough resources to cover everything so we need to prioritize education and tax reform.”

In making these hard decisions, Strickland cites the vast Medicaid expenses. To curb these costs the state should use less-costly means of elderly care, such as home-care, he said.

The Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce Gubernatorial Forum was sponsored by The Repository and Paul Kostyu, Copley Ohio Newspapers Columbus bureau chief, moderated.

Contact public affairs reporter Angela Hoover at [email protected]