COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Gubernatorial candidates Mike DeWine and Nan Whaley spent parts of their day answering questions at a mid-Ohio regional planning commission conference.
Important to note, this was not a debate. The two answered questions hours apart from each-other and, while the questions were similar, a lot of their answers did differ. First, they addressed infrastructure.
“If you look at what we’re doing with infrastructure, we started from day one to invest in infrastructure,” DeWine said.
“I think there are needs for some new infrastructure,” Whaley said.
DeWine said Ohio is in a good spot when it comes to infrastructure, despite the American Society of Civil Engineers giving Ohio a C+ grade. DeWine said a big key to Ohio’s infrastructure growth will be Intel.
“It will send a signal across the country, ‘something is going on in Ohio,’” DeWine said.
Whaley said Intel is not going to help all Ohioans unless some roads and highways are re-evaluated.
“If we want Intel to be successful for all the state, it’s not going to help Toledo at all if they don’t have a road that gets to that location,” Whaley said. “So, we have to be cognizant of how roads and jobs connect across the region.”
On gas tax relief, DeWine said having a gas tax break would have been a good short-term solution, but in the long run would have hurt Ohio infrastructure. Whaley said she was in favor of doing a six-month gas tax pause and back it with the rainy-day fund. She said she recognizes that the hole could not be left empty.
Both candidates agree — creativity is going to have to peak to make up for a future loss in gas tax revenue once electric cars become the majority.
“You have to have something that works, something people think is fair and something that is accessible to people,” DeWine said.
“We’re going to have to get a funding source for roads and bridges, they’re still going to be on them whether they’re driving has cars or other types of cars,” Whaley said.
On student loan forgiveness, the candidates said President Joe Biden should address the cost of higher education, but in different ways.
“I would prefer for us to actually deal with the issue of student loans which is around interest rates,” Whaley said. “The way the banks can charge exorbitant interest rates, making people pay more and more over, is the issue.”
“This is difficult,” DeWine said. “I think in the long range what we’ve got to do is make college more affordable.”
DeWine said he can see both sides of the argument but is unsure of the feasibility of Biden’s loan forgiveness plan.
“I have a fear about additional inflation,” DeWine said.
“I believe that if you take a loan, you should pay a loan,” Whaley said.
DeWine also talked House Bill 283 that would make driving with an electronic device in your hand a primary offense. DeWine said there will never be a bill in front of the legislature where it will be easier to save lives; he said the longer it’s not law, the more lives will be lost.
“We know that distracted driving is killing a lot of Ohioans,” DeWine said. “We know that states that have made it a primary offense have seen distracted driving offenses go down and lives have been saved.’
Whaley said, if elected, putting abortion access on the ballot will be a top priority.
NBC4 asked Whaley about Senate Bill 357, gun legislation proposed by Senator Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls). She said she is not hopeful it goes anywhere. But, she said Ohio needs background checks and red flag laws.
“We are not talking about responsible gun owners here,” Whaley said. “We are talking about people who should never have guns in the first place that are illegal.”