A coalition of manufacturing and construction industry members recently had its fourth opportunity to pick the brain of another presidential candidate.

Ohio Governor and republican presidential candidate John Kasich.
Ohio governor and Republican presidential candidate John Kasich.

Last week, Ohio Gov. John Kasich joined an ongoing teleforum to discuss his policies with industry associations and business owners. The National Association of Manufacturers, Associated Builders and Contractors, the Associated General Contractors of America, BIPAC, the National Federation of Independent Business and the National Retail Federation hosted the call. Thousands of members of the coalition listened in, and some pitched questions to him during the 45-minute forum, which was held last week.

Part of the discussion involved the skilled-worker shortage, something he attributes to the country’s educational system.

“Many of the people on this call have job openings, but they can’t fill them because they don’t have the qualified people,” he said. “And part of the reason they don’t have the qualified people is because we never got [students] prepared for the jobs that were going to exist [when they got out of school].”

Kasich said the K-12 education system in the U.S. “essentially is based on an economy that existed 100 years ago.” He emphasized the importance of exposing students to different occupations at a young age and providing guidance through vocational education. That includes educating young people on what jobs are available in their area and teaching specific skills based on interest.

“If we could begin to align the education with the talent and the job opportunities, then we’re going to get a better workforce and were going to be able to meet the demands of the 21st century,” he said.

Kasich regularly cited his job-creation record as governor of Ohio and his pro-employer attitude, which he’d bring to the White House. “The most important thing a government can do, besides obviously providing for our defense, is to have an attitude throughout the federal government that the job creators are to be respected,” he said. “… Because we want to grow our economy. And as we grow our economy, we’re helping families and helping our young people.”

The Ohio governor discussed his economic plan. He proposes bringing the top tax rate down to 28 percent, with a capital gains rate of 15 and a corporate rate of 25. Like each Republican in past forums, his plan includes accelerated depreciation for business investments such as machinery.

Kasich said he’d put a freeze on all federal regulations for a year so that they could be re-evaluated. “If you’re going to have a regulation, the benefit of it ought to exceed the cost,” he said. He added that he’d create independent entities that work alongside the regulators to keep them from getting “out of control.”

He called for a repeal of many current health insurance mandates, which he said keep driving up costs. He said he’d block-grant federal monies and Medicaid to the states.

“In addition to that, I believe we need to change the whole way in which we look at healthcare,” he said. “I think as everyone on this call would admit, if you went to the hospital tonight, God forbid, and you needed two tests, they’d probably give you six. And no one seems to care. I believe we need to have a market-driven system that actually rewards people who do a good job.” He called for more “transparency” and for the system to be based around the consumer.

Kasich also reiterated his opposition to the Export-Import Bank. Answering another question, he said government employees should be held more accountable for how they treat the taxpayers.

“People who work for the government are public servants,” he said. “They’re supposed to work for the taxpayer—the taxpayer isn’t supposed to work for them.”

Other candidates still invited to speak with the groups are Dr. Ben Carson, former secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and businessman Donald Trump.

[Read about Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s teleforum here, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s here and Texas Ten. Ted Cruz’s here.]

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