Ohio’s Republican legislative leaders accuse Democratic gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray of living in a “dreamland” that they calculate would cost Ohio taxpayers about $4 billion a year.
“The outlandish promises being made just aren’t realistic,” House Speaker Ryan Smith, R-Bidwell, said Thursday in denouncing Cordray’s spending proposals.
Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Medina, joined Smith in saying Cordray is promising more than the state can pay for and would require tax increases and budget cuts in unspecified areas.
The GOP legislative leaders, of course, support Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine for governor and are expected to maintain the party’s control of both chambers — meaning it would be up to them to approve any take hike proposals.
Both DeWine and Cordray have pledged they will not increase taxes if elected Nov. 6.
Asked if they had conducted a study of the cost of Cordray’s campaign promises, Smith and Obhof said they had “looked into” the matter and would “soon” provide a copy of their analysis.
During their news conference at the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, the men said they did not conduct a similar examination of the cost of DeWine’s policy proposals.
“Richard Cordray, unlike Santa Claus, doesn’t have a magic bag that he can reach into and grab a billion dollars here or four billion dollars there,” Obhof said.
The Republicans placed these annual price tags on various Cordray proposals:
• Implementing universal pre-K preschool for children, $1.8 billion.
• Making direct payments to charter schools, instead of deducting the funds from aid to local school districts, $880 million.
• Eliminating caps on school funding that prevent school districts from receiving full funding under the state aid formula, $780 million.
• Offering aid to community college students, once they have exhausted other aid programs, to essentially make their educations free, $60 million.
Cordray has said an analysis has shown his proposal blending grants and loans for two-year colleges is not nearly that expensive.
The Republicans said they would not increase taxes to help pay for Cordray’s proposals if he is elected governor and hope to eliminate more income-tax brackets to reduce Ohioans’ taxes.
Comment was being sought from the Cordray campaign.
He has said he will work with existing tax revenues to help pay for his priorities, spend down state budget surpluses, harvest additional taxes from sources such as increased collection of sales taxes on internet purchases, and could potentially tap the $2.7 billion state rainy day fund.
DeWine campaign spokesman Joshua Eck said, “I would point out that all of our proposals have been reasonable and responsible — things that could actually be passed while maintaining a balanced budget. It just doesn’t compare in any way to the billions in new spending Mr. Cordray is promising.”
DeWine’s proposals include increasing state aid to poorer school districts, spending $200 million more a year on early-childhood education programs and dramatically increasing state aid to children services agencies. He has provided no cost estimates on his plan to increase school funding nor the dramatic jump in children services aid/
Some Republican legislators and candidates, like Cordray, have expressed support for expanded pre-K programs, eliminating caps on school funding and directly funding charter schools.