Kent — Ed FitzGerald, the Democratic candidate for governor, said Gov. John Kasich should demand the resignation of the head of the Ohio Department of Education in light of the poor performance and funding irregularities at charter schools in the state.
FitzGerald, 44, who is the Cuyahoga County executive, was making a campaign sweep from Parma to the Ottawa County fair when he stopped by the Record Publishing Co. office in Kent on July 18. He said everything isn’t as rosy in Ohio as Kasich’s re-election campaign makes out.
“I think it is an absolute mess,” FitzGerald said of the charter schools in the state.
“They have created this enormous loophole for for-profit charter schools. If public schools should be accountable, about the way they spend money and about how effective they are in providing a learning environment for children, the same thing should apply to for-profit charter schools.”
FitzGerald said there is an “unholy alliance” between some charter school operators and political contributions in Ohio.
In addition to charter schools, FitzGerald said the state’s economy is lagging despite falling jobless numbers.
“The average person in Ohio knows the economy in this state is not very good,” he said. “The jobless rate went down in all 50 states, even in states run by liberal governors. You very quickly reach the conclusion that the unemployment number is not the best measure.”
FitzGerald said Ohio is 38th out of 50 states in job creation and ranks 41st in recovery from the recession.
“We are about 140,000 jobs under how many jobs we had before the recession,” he said.
“We are trailing the rest of the country in terms of economic performance,” he added. “Ohio lost a lot of high wage, good paying jobs during the recession and we added a lot of low wage, service industry jobs.”
He also hit Kasich on the increased sales tax and the massive cut to the Local Government Fund.
FitzGerald hammered at Kasich as being unsupportive of local government.
“Government should always strive to be more efficient,” but it doesn’t make sense to take local government funds, he said. FitzGerald said he has done programs on local and county levels to make government more efficient without raising taxes.
He said Kasich’s policies have forced cuts in local governments, and forced more tax levies
“It’s the reason why you have more property tax levies across the state than in many, many years,” he said. “It’s the reason there have been cuts in local services and why school taxes have gone up.
“It’s a ripple effect I think has been very harmful to local communities.”
FitzGerald said Kasich has funded his income tax cuts by raising taxes: “the Commercial Activity Tax went up, the sales tax went up and property taxes on seniors went up when they restricted the Homestead Exemption.”
He called Jobs Ohio, the privatized economic development agency, “probably the most egregious example of just out-and-out Bad Government 101 to take public money and put it out of reach of public scrutiny.”
FitzGerald said there are things he could do as governor to insist that it be opened up and “come out of the shadows.”
He said he supports gas and oil exploration such as the hydraulic fracture oil and gas drilling going on in the eastern part of the state.
“It’s a resource and we need to figure out a way to identify it and responsibly extract it,” he said.
Because there are local costs and infrastructure costs, “the economic benefits should be shared with local communities,” he said.
“For some communities, this may be their one big chance to improve and plan for a brighter future.
“We are in the middle of a process where it appears that state agencies, whose sole concern should be public health and the quality of our environment, are starting to be captured by industry, and we can’t allow that to happen,” he said.
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