Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald was in Medina this morning as part of a series of campaign stops around the state aimed at taking some of the air out of Republican Gov. John Kasich’s State of the State address Monday.
The whirlwind tour — billed as “the real state of the state” — kicked off in Cleveland before coming to Medina, where FitzGerald spoke to a crowd of about two dozen supporters gathered outside the main entrance of Medina High School about 10:30 a.m..
Kasich will be giving his State of the State address at the Medina Performing Arts Center, which is attached to the high school. It’s the third year in a row he’s taken the address outside the state capital.
FitzGerald, the Cuyahoga County executive, focused his criticism of Kasich on budget cuts to schools and the state local government fund.
“What did those cuts go to fund? Tax cuts for the wealthiest people,” FitzGerald said. “He took money from the best performing schools in Ohio, which are public schools, and diverted the funds into the worst performing schools in Ohio, which are for-profit charter schools.”
FitzGerald said state support of the public schools have been reduced by more than $500 million in the past three years, including a nearly 10 percent decrease for Medina City Schools. Those cuts have placed an increased burden on property taxpayers.
“The only big winners in the education world in the last three years has been for-profit charter schools — even ones with graduation rates as low as 30 percent,” FitzGerald said.
Kasich argues that budget adjustments and tax changes he’s championed were necessary to put the state on a solid fiscal footing, pointing to an overall drop in the state’s unemployment rate from 9.4 percent the month he took office to 7.2 percent in December.
Kasich has not drawn any GOP challengers in the race. Democrat Larry Ealy also is seeking the office, as is Libertarian Charlie Earl.
FitzGerald also plans a stop today in Columbus, Sunday at Ormet in Hannibal and Monday in Akron.
His running mate Sharen Neuhardt, a Dayton-area lawyer, plans to visit Youngstown, Zanesville, Toledo, Lima and Cincinnati through Monday.
Among her topics will be women’s health issues, including newly passed abortion restrictions that the 2014 Democratic statewide ticket has identified as a common campaign theme this year.
Republicans say their record of protecting and supporting women’s health is strong.
A statement released Friday by the Ohio Republican Party said Kasich’s said budget boosted funding for breast and cervical cancer screenings and for the first time ever created a dedicated funding stream for rape crisis centers.