By DAVID DUPONT
BG Independent News
Secretary of State Jon Husted is a great believer in technology.
That’s what allowed him to cut the cost of operating his office at a time when state spending was on the rise.
That’s what allowed him cut the state’s incorporation fee from $125 to $99.
That’s what let him to cut the workforce in his office by a third – through early retirement and attrition, he explained.
His 7-year-old daughter will not have to learn to drive, he said, because she’ll come of age in a time of self-operating vehicles.
And Husted wants to be in the driver’s seat in Ohio as it enters the age of driverless cars.
The Republican candidate for governor was in Bowling Green Monday morning at a meet and greet with citizens at Mr. Spot’s, hosted by Ohio Rep. Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green) and her husband, Jim Gavarone
Theresa Gavarone used the occasion to formally announce her endorsement of Husted.
She said she’s backing Husted to replace Republican John Kasich because in her tough fight to win her seat last fall, he stepped in and helped her.
She also said she appreciated his cutting filing fees for new businesses and reducing the cost of running his office by $14.5 million.
Husted said that people may not like change but it is coming. “We want to make sure every generation of people who graduate from Bowling Green have opportunities in Ohio.
“The states that get this right are going to be the ones that are going to win, and the states that don’t are going to fall behind,” he said. “It’s very important for us that we get this right.” The future offers opportunities, but that requires education “because education in life is the great equalizer. … The next generation of Ohioans is going to be tested like no generation before.”
While technology may displace workers in some areas, it will create more opportunities. He pointed to his office where outsourcing its call center to the Cleveland Center for the Blind provided those people with new job opportunities.
“It’s about how we use our trade schools, how we use our educational systems to make sure the next generation is prepared for those challenges.”
Asked by Sue Larimer about how he’d approach the “conundrum” of school funding, he said the key was to grow the economy. Greater prosperity will mean more money to invest in education.
Using technology, as private industry does, to reduce the cost of state bureaucracy will also generate money for education. “I can’t think of a better return than education,” Husted said.
Later asked about he’d approach funding for higher education, Husted said, “we certainly need to make college more affordable.”
But, he added, “spend, spend, spend is not the answer.”
Asked about specifics of how to make college more affordable, he said the state needs to expand the College Credit Plus program by making it a priority to have more students earn an associate’s degree by the time they graduate from high school. Students who earn those college credits are more likely to stay and pursue their educations in Ohio.
He did not directly answer how any expansion should be funded.
(See related story at: http://bgindependentmedia.org/college-credit-plus-doesnt-always-add-up/)
Husted evoked the promise of technology when addressing the crisis of opioid addiction. He said he had recently talked to someone whose company is developing a non-opioid painkiller that is not addictive.
In the meantime, more treatment facilities and trained personnel are needed.
The root cause of the crisis, he said, was the over prescription of opioids that were paid for by Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance. That’s why he supports legislation that restricts prescriptions for opioids to seven days, except in the case of terminally-ill patients.
Husted further stated that if Ohio was No. 1 in job creation and No. 1 in education, it would not be No. 1 in opioid deaths, “because they’d have more constructive things to do in their lives, with more hope and more purpose.”
Marilyn Bowlus, of Pemberville, challenged Husted for his support from the NRA.
Husted said he had an A+ rating from the pro-gun group. “That’s probably the only A+ I’ve ever gotten,” he quipped
Bowlus likened gun manufacturers to tobacco companies as threats to Americans’ health. She said she feels safer in Canada and England than she does in the United States.
Husted said “for private citizens it is a matter of personal safety,” and it is their Second Amendment right to own a gun.
He said growing up in rural Montpelier in the northwestern corner of the state, law enforcement was not close by, so people needed a weapon to protect themselves.
Husted said in his first term as Secretary of State he received a death threat and was urged by law enforcement to get a concealed carry permit because he was his own first line of defense.