Address: 3001 Marshfield Road, Albany.
Occupation: State Representative.
Past Offices Held: Currently serving second term in the House; Previously served on Athens City Council.
1. Ohio has had some success in regaining jobs in the wake of the recession, but the unemployment rate remains over 7 percent. What specifically will you do to help create jobs in the state?
I will continue working with state and local leaders to promote our region as a great place to live, work, and raise a family. I will also continue fighting for adequate investments in education, workforce development, and infrastructure, including broadband Internet. I think that government can help to create a good climate for business, specifically by ensuring that we have a well-prepared workforce and the necessary infrastructure for a variety of business opportunities. I also believe that we need to work to support local entrepreneurs in their startup and second stage development efforts, because those individuals and businesses are rooted in our local communities, and are effective at creating and retaining jobs.
2. Ohio is expecting a sizable budget surplus. There have been cuts to local government funding in recent years, from schools to cities and counties and many would like to see that money go to them. Should any of the surplus be spent and if yes, how?
I do believe that we need to spend some of the surplus funds, which is why I sponsored the Kids and Communities First Fund legislation. I offered this bill as an amendment to the budget corrections bill, and as standalone legislation because I believe that the deep cuts, created by the Kasich administration's use of Local Government funds for state budgeting, are hurting our communities. We need police and fire protection in our local communities, enough teachers in the classroom, and well-maintained infrastructure to be economically competitive. My legislation would use a portion of the surplus (now in the rainy day fund) to create a fund that could be used to prevent layoffs of public safety forces and teachers.
3. Ohio's school-funding system has been declared unconstitutional multiple times due to its reliance on property taxes, yet a solution has remained elusive. Do you believe the situation is likely to change in the near future, and how would you propose addressing the issue?
I have been working on this issue since before I was elected, and am deeply concerned about the problem. Our children need access to a high quality education, to help them develop their talents and be able to compete in a global economy. I believe we were making progress, with the reforms introduced by former Governor Strickland, but the new administration repealed those reforms. Governor Kasich is still developing his plan, and I will do everything I can to ensure that proposed reforms take into consideration the differences in various areas of the state. For example, I was able to work with Rep. Garrison on a formula that adequately funded transportation costs, which made a big difference for rural districts. One size does not fit all, and I will fight for careful analysis of the data, so that we can ensure that any new proposals are fair for students and taxpayers in southeastern Ohio.