WESTERVILLE, Ohio (WSPD) -- Ed FitzGerald says he'll work to guarantee that all Ohio 4-year-olds have access to public preschool by 2018 if he's elected governor.

It's the first major policy initiative of the Democrat's campaign against Republican Gov. John Kasich.

"We know that it's a necessity and if it's an educational necessity we ought to do something about it," said FitzGerald.

FitzGerald's plan would be phased in over two years beginning in fall 2016. He backs legislation to increase qualifications for preschool teachers and reduce maximum preschool class sizes from 28 to 20.

"Quality universal pre-kindergarten would be a game changer in this state," he said.

FitzGerald claims he's talked with a lot of teachers and they tell him they can tell the difference between children who have attended pre-school and those who have not.

"The estimates are that for around $500, $600 million dollars a year we could do this in this state," he said.

However, Republicans say FitzGerald's policy ideas add up to about $2 billion so far and that he hasn't addressed where he would get the money