Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Blogger Conference Call with Ted Stickland,Part 3

Last section of the transcript. You can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

Lisa Renee from Glass City Jungle stated that in Lucas County an issue of major importance is school funding, and that she hoped during the campaign and the debates, Ted Strickland would drive home the difference between what Blackwell is suggesting and Ted's plan.

Ted Strickland: I think this education issue is the most serious issue facing our state. And Mr. Blackwell's approach to education is that he wants to siphon multiple billions of dollars out of our public schools to reward for-profit charter schools that are not performing as well as public schools are performing, and not held to the same accountability. And I think it's undemocratic. I think when public tax dollars are used, there ought to be public oversight.

So, I am strongly opposed to vouchers--talk about undemocratic! Taking public tax dollars and turning them over for use as vouchers, where the public has absolutely no oversight as to how those dollars are used, I think is reprehensible.

Regarding schools and school funding, I'll talk about three levels, early childhood, elementary and secondary education, and college. We are going to invest millions of dollars, at least 15 million additional dollars a year above what we are currently investing in early childhood education--I'm talking about 1, 2, 3, and 4 year olds. We're going to have universal voluntary screening for our children so that early problems can be identified quickly and appropriate interventions, hopefully so that we can keep those small problems from becoming lifelong chronic problems. And I want to jump to college, and then I'll get back to elementary and secondary education.

Ohio is in serious trouble. We have an education deficit in this state, in that we are 39th among 50 states in the percentage of our adults with a college degree. And yet, under this Taft/Blackwell leadership in Columbus, we now find ourselves where a 4-year college or university education in Ohio costs 45% more than the average in the nation. And our two year schools cost 52% more than the average nationally. So at a time when we are most in need of encouraging post-secondary education, we're making it increasingly difficult for a kid from an average working class family to afford an education. And we want to turn that around in several ways, and we've got that in our TurnAround Ohio plan.

One of the things we want to do is to enable every parent to begin a post-secondary education account for their child, that the state will invest in on an annual basis. Modest sums, but we want to encourage family members and employers and foundations and churches also to contribute to these savings accounts. We're going to insist that these institutions of higher education cooperate with us in terms of holding down tuition, and we're going to do it by using state funding as a leverage. And we want tuition predictability, so that once a young person enrolls in a particular college or university, they have some predictability as to what the tuition will be throughout at least the four years of their education there.

In terms of elementary and secondary education, this is what I say, and I mean it. When I take the oath of office as governor, and I *swear* to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America *and* the Constitution of the State of Ohio, I'm not going to have my fingers crossed. I'm going to *mean it* when I utter that oath, and swear allegance to that oath. And that means that I'll be a law-abiding governor, and I'm going to work to make Ohio a state that is constitutional in its school funding mechanism. And we will follow what the courts have told us, and that's that we *must* stop relying so heavily on the local property tax. And we must come up with a system that is more equitable and broadly based, and where the resources are more appropriately shared.

And those are the principles that I will follow. I will first of all ask for cooperation from the legislature, and if I don't get it, I will go to the people and carry out a continuous campaign against any legislator that refuses to come to terms with our obligations to develop a constitutional system of school funding.

Russell from Buckeye State Blog asked the next question, noting that it would be about the politics of being governor, rather than the policy. "We're certainly seeing a more organized Democratic party this cycle than we have in many, many years, with your campaign, and Sherrod Brown's campaign, and the coordinated campaign." He asked how we can build on that, to increase the chances of taking back at least one of the chambers in 2008.

Ted Strickland: Well, I think your observation is a correct one. One of the reasons that I think we currently have what you describe as a more energized party, Sherrod Brown and I are just dear personal friends, and so we are absolutely committed to each other, and to trying to make sure that the entire ticket works together in a unified, cooperative way. And that's why over this past weekend, all the statewide candidates, including Sherrod and myself, were together as we went into these thirteen different counties. And there will be more of those sorts of activities as we try to show unity and coherence. And I think the people are responding to that more positive, less splintered approach coming from Democrats.

It is also true that right now it is hard to see how we can capture total control of either chamber in Ohio. I do believe, though, that we are going to pick up House and Senate seats, I don't know exactly how many, but if the climate remains the way it is now, we could possibly pick up a number of House and Senate seats. And when the margins become narrow, it makes it more likely that I could peel off some moderate Republicans in an effort to pass legislation that is good for our state.

Certainly my first effort will be to reach out to Republicans in the House and the Senate, and ask for their help and cooperation, but I don't know how hopeful I should be that that will happen. But I am determined that, if I win this election, that we go to work immediately in trying to consolidate our efforts, and to continue to build a Democratic party structure that will make us stronger in 08, help us elect a Democrat to the presidency, and, as you say, work toward the eventual achieving of majority status in the legislature. And that will be my responsibility, as well as all of our responsibilities, if I win the election. And I'm committed to doing that.

Russell from Buckeye State Blog asked the final question, noting in discussions of '08, one of the names being mentioned for vice president is Governor Strickland.

Ted Strickland: (Laughing) Well, I tell you, my brother, I am 65 years old, I am committed to Ohio. I fully expect, if I win this election, that being the governor of Ohio will be the terminal point in my political career. But I am committed to seeing that we get a Democrat elected to the presidency, and so I will work diligently to make sure that Ohio is a blue state in '08. I don't know if this country can stand another administration like the one we have in Washington D.C. It is a calamity . Our foreign policy is in a shambles, and one of the things that I am really proud of is that both Sherrod Brown and I, as a gubernatorial candidate and as a senate candidate, have opposed this president's war from the beginning, and I am absolutely committed to trying to see that we bring some maturity and credibility back to the presidency, and that's my goal for '08. But certainly, I have no thoughts of being on anyone's ticket. If I am elected governor, I will remain governor in Ohio.

Ted ended by thanking us for what we do as bloggers, and what we contribute to this great political debate. We, of course, responded with, "Thank you!"

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