BUSINESS LITIGATION ATTORNEY, Thompson Hine, LLP, Dayton, Ohio, 2005-Present, PHARMACEUTICAL SALES REPRESENTATIVE, Eli Lilly & Co., Virginia/Ohio, 2000-2002, NAVAL OFFICER/AVIATOR, United States Navy, Florida/Texas/Mississippi/Virginia, 1995-2000.
UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI COLLEGE OF LAW, Cincinnati, Ohio, J.D., Law Review, 2005 UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, College Park, Maryland, M.A., History, 1996 UNITED STATES NAVAL ACADEMY, Annapolis, Maryland, B.S., History, with honors and distinction, 1995 WASHINGTON HIGH SCHOOL, Washington Court House, Ohio, Valedictorian, 1991
First, Ohio needs more and better paying jobs. I will address this in my answer to the next question.
A large threat to Ohio’s economy is the unrelenting and unsustainable rise in health care costs. Too many of the organizations that are part of our healthcare system are putting profit over caring for people. They not only richly reward administrators and executives while trying to eek more work for less money from those who directly care for patients, but they also lobby to rig the system to ensure patients pay more than they should. For example, a recent article in the national media detailed how hospitals use their near-monopoly statuses to force insurance companies into agreeing to gag clauses that prohibit the insurer from informing the patient where the patient can get better or more affordable care. We have also seen how contracts between insurers and pharmacies prohibit the pharmacists from informing the patient when the patient can directly pay cash for prescriptions for less than their insurance co-pay. We have acted to prohibit these unfair clauses. For example, I was the first co-sponsor of HB479, which prohibits the pharmacy gag clauses. I also am the author of the Healthcare Price Transparency Law, which was passed unanimously in 2015. This required all patients scheduled for non-emergency healthcare services to get a good faith estimate of the anticipated costs upfront, without having to request it. This is the standard in every other area of our economy, from buying a car to fixing the furnace. It is common sense that patients deserve to know their costs before a service, so they can make an informed decision. Unfortunately, the hospital industry filed a lawsuit right before the law was due to take effect in 2017 and coordinated with the Kasich Administration to agree to an injunction, so patients are still being kept in the dark. I have filed a motion to defend the law in court and will continue to fight for patients’ rights.
As mentioned in the prior answer, Ohio needs more and better paying jobs. Our state has lagged the national average in per capita job creation and wage growth for years. Business leaders are smart – they locate their businesses in states where they make the most money. Accordingly, if we want a flood of companies with good jobs to come to Ohio, we have to make Ohio the best place to do business. This does not only mean the best tax structure for doing business, it also means the best education system that supplies the best workers, the most modern infrastructure, the lowest health care costs, and the most common-sense regulations. In order to fix these very broken areas, we need to think differently. What we have been doing has not worked. This is why I have authored several bills to lower skyrocketing healthcare costs. I have also proposed legislation to lower taxes on business activity in Ohio. This is very different from the traditional approach. For example, we should give a tax break to those that invest in Ohio businesses that are building goods in Ohio or providing services in Ohio before we ever give a tax break to a business or person that is working or investing overseas. Ohio and hard-working Ohioans must come first.
JobsOhio performs a function that was formerly fulfilled by a slow-moving executive agency of the government. It is the same roll ably played by nearly every economic development department of local governments. All provide tax breaks, loans and other incentives to entice businesses to either locate in Ohio or stay and grow in Ohio. Although this is an important role, it is certainly not a competitive advantage for Ohio because every other state does the same thing. I believe additional oversight should be added to make sure JobsOhio proceeds in an unbiased and fair manner that is best for our state. Accordingly, I fully support Auditor Dave Yost’s plan to conduct performance audits on JobsOhio.
Ohio has a minimum wage law passed by the voters of our state that I believe provides a good system. Unlike the federal minimum wage, which is currently $7.25, Ohio’s minimum wage is adjusted every year to account for inflation. Accordingly, at the beginning of 2018, Ohio’s minimum wage increased from $8.15 to $8.30. At the end of this year, Ohio’s minimum wage will likely rise again. When the minimum wage increases, wages that are slightly above to a few dollars above , minimum wage also typically increase. This puts pressure on businesses that are competing with foreign business who are not paying anywhere close to the wages we pay. This is why fair trade agreements are so important and why we should strive to work together to ensure our Ohio businesses, primarily in manufacturing, have the lowest expenses in other areas, such as healthcare and taxes.
It seems like every politician has a pet project to decrease the so-called “skills gap” and nearly every one of them boils down to simply sending additional money to colleges and universities. Every time we increase funding directly to colleges and universities, they simply increase tuition or fees and build more non-educational, resort-like amenities to attract students. For example, the University of Cincinnati built a lazy river for their students. Furthermore, continuing to pour more and more money into colleges and universities to train workers to some general standard that the government thinks best is not what businesses want. Each business is different and requires particular training and skills.
For businesses that say they just need someone that will show up for work and can pass a drug test, the problem is not skills, it is pay. If a manufacturing business is offering $12/hr, it is going to be difficult to recruit workers when Walmart is offering nearly the same hourly wage. Those businesses cannot afford to pay their workers more because they are nobly competing against Chinese companies paying their workers only $3.60/hr.
My approach is probably very different than most. Legislators love to propose developing “new” programs to train workers the way the government thinks best. We should instead take the money such programs require and invest it directly back into businesses, giving half to workers for higher wages and half into training workers the way the business thinks best. They could recruit better workers by offering higher wages and would have money to custom-train their workers, whether that is at a trade school or Sinclair. This would allow workers to be trained by the business in exactly the way the business wants.
To be clear, I am not saying we should decrease funding for public colleges and universities. Ohio’s colleges and universities must be able to provide a great education for Ohioans.
With more businesses, more jobs and greater wages, there will be more state revenue and a greater ability to eventually eliminate income taxes. In the next term, I will introduce a tax program as part of Ohio’s next budget that will cut taxes in a way to directly incentivize businesses to keep their money in their businesses, in Ohio. While I fully support eventually eliminating income taxes, small income tax cuts are not the most efficient way to spur economic growth in our state or country. This is because when most people have extra income after an income tax cut, they either invest the money or spend it. If they invest it, most of the time they invest in the stock market. While that might be great for global growth and raising the incomes of people in other countries, very little of money invested in the stock market equals an investment in a company conducting their business in Ohio. If someone spends the money they receive from an income tax cut, most of items which they might buy are not made in our country, much less in Ohio. Because we have a trade deficit, the more we spend, the poorer we get (just like a household). Instead of the usual argument between income tax cuts or increases, we should lower taxes on exactly what we want to encourage – business activity in Ohio. We should lower and eliminate the Commercial Activity Tax, lower and eliminate taxes on earnings Ohio small businesses reinvest in their business, and lower taxes for investments made in Ohio businesses.
Medicaid needs either major reform or to be replaced with a different system that ensures Ohioans have equal (or better) access to healthcare services.
The healthcare industry has fought every effort to create a more sensible and affordable healthcare system, so it can continue to make record profits and build more and grander healthcare facilities. In the debate about healthcare, there is a false choice between coverage and no coverage. “Coverage” just means some insurance company is making a huge profit. What we need is to make sure all Ohioans get quality healthcare, regardless of preexisting condition or financial position.
While we must ensure all Ohioans get quality healthcare, Medicaid is a terribly expensive and broken system that needs major reform. Health care costs are out of control. They are rising at unsustainable rates and threatening our state’s economy. State Medicaid spending has nearly doubled, from $4.7B in 2011 to an estimated $9B in 2018/9. Very little of that $4.3B increase has to do with Medicaid Expansion because the federal government paid 100% of the cost of expansion from 2013-2016 and currently pays 94% of the costs. In other words, that increase in spending is simply because Medicaid is spending far more on each enrollee than ever before and not because there are more enrollees as a result of expansion. In fact, Ohio’s Medicaid costs have risen significantly more than the national average.
Ohioans should be very concerned that these huge increases in costs have occurred in a rising economy, when more Ohioans are employed in well-paying jobs. If we could contain and decrease our healthcare spending by even a small amount, we would be able to restore local government funding, increase the amount we send to law enforcement and treatment facilities to end Ohio’s drug epidemic, dramatically increase the amount of funding going to schools or lower property taxes to help our seniors and others living on a fixed income.
It is time that our government take bold and determined action on the drug addiction crisis. According to the surgeon general’s report, substance-use disorders costs the country $442 billion annually in health-care and criminal-justice spending and in lost productivity. This is nearly double the cost of major, chronic diseases like Alzheimer’s dementia, diabetes and cancer.
Over the past two years, I have been working with members from both sides of the aisle and with groups such as the prosecutors, public defenders, judges, law enforcement, ACLU, treatment professionals, advocate groups and people suffering from addiction themselves to draft several pieces of legislation that form a true and comprehensive solution to the drug epidemic we face. The bill package solves five problems. First, provide long-term treatment that actually works. Current treatments for addiction are not sustained long-term and are ineffective – success rates are less than 10% and the average number of relapses is 6-7. Next, we should substantially increase the penalties for drug dealers. Ohio’s penalties for drug dealers are pathetically weak, which is one reason Ohio is ground zero for drug epidemic. Besides getting addicts out of prison and jail and into treatment, we need to make room for drug dealers by allowing alternative punishments for offenders who pose no physical threat to society. Currently, jails and prisons are overcrowded which leads to the early release of drug dealers from their already-short sentences. This legislation will also aim to help end the abuse of prescription drugs and the lifelong treatment of the addicted with replacement drugs that are equally addicting, and often sold on the streets for profit. Finally, my legislation will help those leaving treatment successfully transition back into society by providing employment, housing and support for 18-24 months after release.
The first thing we need to stop is the never-ending flow of mandates on schools coming from Columbus. Not every school district is the same, so we should return authority to local school boards to run their districts in the best manner for their students. We need to shift our paradigm that the only acceptable option for students after graduation is to go to college. Working in a trade, enlisting in the military and getting a well-paying job are all equally laudable and successful results for students. Next, we need to completely change how we measure schools. Right now, we measure student performance, but not school performance. Equating the number of students passing a test with school performance completely misses how much the school may have helped its students, both in year-over-year progress and in preparing students to be successful after graduation. Except for career tech schools, schools do not measure what happens to students after they graduate. Accordingly, there is no incentive for the school system, other than the altruism of great teachers and counselors, to prepare students to go on to higher education, enter a trade school or apprenticeship, enlist in the military or obtain a well-paying job. If we measured and incentivized year-over-year progress, actual success after graduation (with equal credit for the above results and an appropriate risk adjustment), we could see actual apples-to-apples comparisons of school performance for the first time ever. With the proper rewards given directly to teachers, principals and superintendents who do well, innovation and improvements are encouraged without the need for the state to mandate how schools teach. In this way, we could eliminate nearly every mandate on schools and teachers from the state (they could become recommendations only) and relegate the state to measuring and incentivizing the real results of progress, fulfilling potential, and success after graduation.
As I said in the answer to the previous question, we need to completely change how we measure schools. In short, I do not believe that ranking schools on test performance is useful and worthwhile. Please see my answer to the previous question for more details.
Over the past several years, I have been working with members from both sides of the aisle, members of the House and the Senate, and with groups such as the school boards, superintendents, teachers, education experts, parents, and business leaders to implement the system described in the previous question. It is my hope that in the next General Assembly, we will be able to implement these changes and dramatically reform education in a way that would eliminate the need for any more changes or mandates from Columbus for years to come.
I firmly believe in early childhood education. It is chronically underfunded in Ohio and other states. I have fought for increased funding from the day I took office. However, funding alone is not the only problem. Similar to our K-12 schools, we do not have a good way to measure and incentivize early childhood education. Currently, a system of stars is given that is supposed to indicate quality. While that is laudable, the only indicator of quality I think most parents, including myself, want to know about is how much progress our children will make. For four and five-year-olds about to enter kindergarten, we should independently measure kindergarten readiness at the beginning of preschool and then measure it at the end of preschool, and award stars based on measured improvement. Everything else that is argued to mean quality, such as how many teachers have college degrees, will follow naturally if that truly translates into results – into our children reaching their maximum potential and kindergarten readiness.
Another important point is that children who complete early childhood education need to be able to continue to make progress when they go into kindergarten. Currently, alumni of early childhood programs largely wait for the rest of the class that did not attend preschool to catch up, learning next to nothing for that period and eventually showing little to no difference in performance and success from those that did not attend preschool. Until every child actually receives early childhood education (whether that be at a school or home), the children that do get that education need to keep progressing in K-12 schools by being separated into special classes or by implementing differential instruction.
I believe in school choice. There are many reasons that a child might need to attend a different school, from language immersion, interest in the arts, to escape from bullying, or just to attend a higher performing school.
However, our charter school system in Ohio needs major reform. First, charter schools are public schools and should be measured in the exact same manner that traditional public schools are measured. As described in my answer to an earlier question, this measurement system needs to be completely changed so it measures the school performance instead of just the student performance.
Furthermore, because charter schools are not overseen by an elected board of education, they are currently overseen, most of the time poorly, by “sponsors,” who receive 3% of the charter school’s funding. This presents a perverse incentive for the sponsor to try to keep poor performing charter schools open, so they keep receiving that 3%. Instead, I have drafted legislation which would abolish the sponsor system and require charter schools to obtain a ten-year performance bond equal to the total amount of state funding the charter school would receive in ten years. If the charter school fails, it loses the bond. This way, only those charter schools which can go to bond investors with a credible plan to perform well would be able to affordably obtain a bond. Further, the charter school would be able to obtain more funding, equal to the local and state funding received by traditional schools, if they perform at an “A” level, but would lose funding per student at 20% increments for each letter grade below that. These two reforms would go a long way to ensuring that only high-performing charter schools would remain open. Fly-by-night charter school operators have given school choice a bad name and they need to go.
First, we need to reform how higher education is measured and funded. Right now, colleges and universities gain revenue by getting as many students to attend and pay tuition as possible, especially in the early, most-profitable, classes. If a student takes six years to graduate, especially if the student must take a lot of remedial classes, the college or university makes the most money. While some early reforms in the legislature have been passed to tie some state funding to graduation rates, much more needs to be done. First, colleges and universities should be tracking what happens to their students after they leave. If students transfer to another school, go to graduate school, get an internship or apprenticeship, or obtain a well-paying job, the college or university would receive credit. If a student graduates with a degree but is unable to secure a job or unable to enter graduate education, the college or university should not get credit. State funding should be tied to how well colleges and universities perform in these areas, as these are the areas that really matter – how our young adults being educated, trained, and prepared to become productive members of society. These schools should have a direct and substantial financial incentive to make sure students are prepared and actually successful after they leave the school. I have drafted legislation which will accomplish this.
To attract students from all over the world, schools should grant in-state tuition to any student who stays in Ohio and works for at least four years after graduation. This could be done by way of a refund for those students who paid out-of-state tuition. Furthermore, any veteran should automatically be granted in-state tuition. Although these measures will help attract students to Ohio that then stay here and work, I still firmly believe that Ohioans should receive priority for admissions, as our public colleges and universities are funded by Ohio taxpayers.
I believe our state and country need leaders who are in office to genuinely serve the people. We need leaders who put principle over politics. We need leaders who have the vision and ideas to fix our broken system, the courage to put forward innovative solutions, even if not politically safe, and the energy and drive to turn them into action and results. Finally, we need leaders who put the people’s interests over those who give political donations. I constantly strive to be that type of leader, and if the voters would look at my background as a citizen, a veteran, a husband, a father, and a legislator, they would recognize this constant effort.
First, medical use should only be approved by the Federal Drug Administration after study from medical experts on topics such as dosing and drug-drug interactions. If necessary, it (or any other drug) could be approved by a state-equivalent of the FDA, but only after going through the same rigorous clinical trials and data analysis that is conducted by the FDA. Many states that have approved marijuana only as a medicine, including Ohio, have approved a drug without this process, by a vote of legislators, almost none of whom have any medical training, and in the absence of any standardized clinical trials, dosing guidelines, warning labeling, and a host of other missing processes conducted when any other prescribed medicine is approved.
While a medical process should be followed, it is important to recognize that some data shows marijuana-derived medication could be helpful to treat certain medical conditions. I favor continued research for medical uses and initiation of an FDA (or state-based equivalent) process for possible medicinal use in this organized fashion.
Recreational use should be voted on by the citizens of the state of Ohio. Personally, I would not even consider supporting legalizing recreational use until we get good data on the effects of doing so from states who already have full legalization, including Colorado, Oregon and Washington. Although some preliminary data is available showing some serious health and safety concerns, it would be prudent to wait until we have access to more information, so the citizens of Ohio can make an informed decision.
I deeply believe in women’s health care and believe in increased support for age-appropriate sex education, prenatal care, and adoption services. I absolutely and categorically support a woman’s right to reproduce, her right to contraception, her right to prenatal care, her right to adoption, and her right to ready access to preventive women’s health services such as mammograms and pap smears. What I do not support is the notion that an unborn child, just because she is voiceless, has lost the basic, fundamental right to the protection and preservation of her life.
Three areas can and have been improved in Ohio to protect our children and keep them safe in our schools. First, funding and training for School Resource Officers (normally off-duty police officers) has been increased. Increased physical security is important and I supported legislation to increase funding for local schools to strengthen many areas of security, from buzz-in doors, cameras, or metal detectors to online monitoring of social media. I also voted for increased funding to schools for mental health counseling and programing.
I additionally support strict penalties on criminals who utilize firearms or any other deadly weapon in the commission of violent criminal acts. Accordingly, as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, I supported a bill championed by law enforcement and Attorney General Mike DeWine that imposed much stronger penalties for criminals who repeatedly commit serious crimes, including raising penalties for crimes committed with deadly weapons.
I strongly believe in our constitutional right to bear arms. Many of the proposed gun restrictions are merely political ploys to win favor with the public in the aftermath of a mass shooting. Yet, they do not actually address the fundamental issues that lead to mass shootings or do anything to effectively reduce overall gun deaths in our country. For example, concealed carry restrictions that are more severe than open carry restrictions are illogical and unhelpful. Concealed carrier holders are trained and licensed, so it makes little sense that in an area in which open carry is allowed, concealed carry would be prohibited. Instead of introducing restrictions on the rights of law abiding citizens, we need to focus on stronger penalties for those who perpetrate violent crimes, increase funding for mental health services so that some of those who would commit these crimes can be identified and receive the help and intervention they need, encourage the media to stop glamorizing or increasing the notoriety of these criminals (e.g. when Rolling Stones put one of the Boston bombers on their cover or the incessant focus on a mass shooter rather than on the victims), and explore only interventions that actually make sense. Such actions might include one that I did support, which would allow a judge to order mental health treatment for a person in need if authorities are alerted that he/she might be at risk (for example, by refusing to take medication). I additionally believe that our current background check policies would be far more effective if local governments and courts, as well as the Armed Forces, were more accountable for reporting to the national background check system those individuals who are prohibited under the law from purchasing a firearm.
We are very fortunate in the 41st House District to have some wonderful local government leaders who ably lead our local communities. I regularly meet with those leaders to report and get feedback on legislation contemplated or introduced in the legislature. In terms of funding for schools, state funding levels have increased in every budget by hundreds of millions of dollars since I took office. However, I support additional funding that would help in many areas, such as increasing teacher pay, early childhood education and incentivizing high performance and success. As I said in in answer to an earlier question, Medicaid spending alone (largely excluding Medicaid Expansion costs) increased by approximately $4.3B since 2011 – and this increase occurred in a growing economy when fewer people should need Medicaid, which is income-based. If the legislature could overcome pressure from special interests in the healthcare industry and implement reforms to curb the massive increase in healthcare spending, the state would easily be able to completely restore local government funding levels and invest additional, much-needed resources for education, school safety, first responders, infrastructure, and to combat the drug epidemic.
People want lawmakers who genuinely desire to serve and help improve the lives of all Ohioans. Even if they disagree with their ideas or positions, people want lawmakers who truly believe their ideas and positions are the best way to help. Unfortunately, far too many elected officials at the state and national level become corrupted because they always choose what is best for their own political ambition or survival, instead of simply doing what is right. I cannot count how many times I have heard “I know voting for this is the right thing to do, but I have to vote the other way […for political reasons].” I have heard this from both sides of the aisle. Partisan politics are not the real problem -- the problem is always the struggle between the servant-leaders and the career politicians. As we all know, in our current system, the career politicians (the establishment) usually win. However, we can change that if the people come together, become well organized and led, and then execute a strategy that will change the status quo. I am not in the same party as Bernie Sanders and I do not agree with many of his policies. But he is right that our country needs a political revolution.
Vice President and Board Member, Dayton Board of Education
Deputy Clerk of Court, Franklin County Municipal Court
Adjunct Faculty of Political Science, Sinclair Community College
Legislative Liaison and Public Information Officer, Tennessee Department of Human Resources
Regulatory and Publications Specialist, Tennessee Department of State
Staff Assistant, Executive Office of the President, The White House
BA, University of Memphis
JD, University of Dayton School of Law
There are many pressing issues Ohio is facing as we struggle to restore the health, economic stability and wellbeing of all Ohioans. In these difficult economic times, the challenges that hard working, middle class Ohioans face must be front and center to move Ohio forward. To do this, we must protect, expand, and improve access to affordable, quality healthcare. Living in a world where one health crisis can bankrupt and ruin a family is unacceptable. Yet, we have seen improvements that we should strive to make better. The Medicaid expansion has been a great success, improving health outcomes for hundreds of thousands of Ohioans, cutting the uninsured rate in half, and making it easier for those struggling with unemployment to find work with better pay (see further my answer to question 6, below). We must also emphasize the need to bring good paying jobs back to Ohio with a special focus on closing the skills gap and fighting the opioid epidemic, so that we have workers who are ready and able to fill the jobs that a growing manufacturing sector is bringing home to Ohio (see further my answers to questions 2-4, below).
JobsOhio seems to be in a political stalemate, in terms of its critics. On the one hand, according to the independent performance assessment they recently released, they are meeting (and in some cases, exceeding) many of their metrics. On the other hand, the lack of transparency built into the private, non-profit corporation sheds doubt on who is ultimately being served by this venture. There is a very real concern that special interest groups could infiltrate the organization and skew their decisions toward serving corporate interests at the expense of Ohio citizens. While the Ohio General Assembly has fought for years to shut down audits and restrict public access to their records, the Ohio Senate recently voted to require more transparency from JobsOhio. I hope this fixes these concerns. I am not fundamentally against JobsOhio. I think an organization that manages and promotes economic development is a good idea. I want to see, however, a JobsOhio that is seeking out new kinds of economic markets. I want to make Ohio a renewed place of innovation. Some of the most important inventions and technological breakthroughs in our country’s history started right here in Ohio. There are opportunities now in which the state could invest to bring hundreds of thousands of good paying jobs to Ohio, and, with proper oversight and public input, JobsOhio could make this happen. A good example is in sustainable energy. All indicators show that sustainable energy technologies are performing better in the market than fossil fuels, and they save consumers thousands of dollars annually on their energy costs. Yet Ohio is lagging behind in tapping into this industry. Building the infrastructure, and all of the ancillary industries that pop up to support it, would create these jobs and help restore economic security for the middle class in Ohio. Only transparency and public scrutiny can make that happen, and Ohio voters deserve a seat at the table.
It is an outrage that hard working Ohioans are struggling to meet their basic needs because wages simply do not reflect increased costs of living and worker productivity. Wages for the average American have been stagnant or falling for over a generation now. When adjusted for inflation, the minimum wage, when it was established in 1968, would be $11.64 in 2018 dollars. If that number were adjusted for increased worker productivity that number would be $21.72. The current minimum wage in Ohio is $8.30; however, to afford rent on a 2 bedroom home that does not exceed 30% of your income requires $15. Raising the minimum wage to a living wage helps everyday Ohioans lead more full, dignified lives, and helps Ohio taxpayers by reducing the number of people dependent on public assistance. Across the country, state and local governments that have raised their minimum wage to a living wage have seen dramatic boosts to their economies by increasing consumer buying power. When in office, I will propose legislation that will increase the minimum wage to $10 per hour with annual increases over a 5 year period to reach $15.
Ohio is a “rust belt” state that has suffered greatly from the loss of good paying, manufacturing jobs, which used to be the backbone of our economy. While some manufacturing jobs are returning to Ohio, the desperate state of our economy before this modest recovery has caused many Ohioans to fall through the cracks. In my view, there are two major factors contributing to the skills gap in Ohio, which is felt especially hard here in Dayton: the opioid crisis and a lack of education opportunities. First, we must be better in our approach to the opioid crisis. Ohio should have a holistic, multilateral approach to fighting the opioid crisis that balances treatment, mental health counselling, alternative methods for pain management, and law enforcement. In tandem with this, we must explore and invest Ohio tax dollars in educational opportunities that will drive worker training, recruitment and placement. It is well established that a well educated workforce is instrumental for economic prosperity, and Ohio is sorely behind the curve on bringing the skills of our workforce up to the needs of the market. We already have a network of 26 community colleges in Ohio that could partner with local high schools across the state to develop trade skill programs and vocational training opportunities. This would give students a full range of post-secondary education options that would provide the necessary tools to prepare them to strengthen Ohio’s workforce and close the skills gap.
Supporting “reductions” or “increases” to income taxes in Ohio is too simplistic and does not sufficiently frame the question: How do we disentangle the mess that Columbus has made when it comes to funding education, healthcare, and the services provided by local governments across the state? A report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy analyzed Ohio’s tax changes since 2005, and found a net increase in taxes paid by Ohioans in the bottom 40% of wage earners (those who make less than $48,000 per year), while those in the top 1% (averaging over $1 million annually) saw a net decrease in income taxes to the tune of $40,000 or more per year. It is not, however, just that income taxes have been cut over the past 10 to 15 years to disproportionately benefiting top wage earners; it also lies in Columbus’ zealous attempt to “cut” taxes and “balance” the state budget. For the past 7 years, at least, Columbus has aggressively rolled back or eliminated long established funding streams upon which local communities rely to pay for services provided by local municipalities, including the Local Government Fund. This forces our municipalities either to cut services or raise local taxes. By withholding the Local Government Fund, eliminating the estate tax, and phasing out state reimbursements to replace lost tax revenues from doing away with corporate property taxes on machinery and inventory, Columbus is hurting local communities by shifting the costs to middle and working class families throughout Ohio. All of this affects the quality of our education, healthcare, jobs, as well as the wellbeing and preparedness of our workforce for new economic development in Ohio. We need a Columbus that responds, for once, to the needs of the middle class, that imagines a tax structure that breaths fairness back into the system, and prepares Ohio to be ready for the untapped economic opportunities that lay before us.
The Medicaid expansion should absolutely continue. We should not be thinking about restrictions to Medicaid, we should be thinking about improvements that build up better services and efficiencies for what has been a very successful program thus far. According to a recent analysis of the Ohio Medicaid expansion, the number of uninsured Ohioans was cut in half by insuring over 653,000 people. As a result, 96% of opioid addicts on Medicaid received treatment, 37% of smokers quit, one-third reported better health results, ER visits decreased 17%, primary care visits increased 10%, and most of the recipients noted that it was easier to find work with better paying jobs (which helps people get off of Medicaid). It is clear that the Medicaid expansion is working for Ohio. It saves taxpayers money, ensures that more Ohioans have access to much needed healthcare, and assists people to get off government aid to lead full and productive lives.
Opioid abuse is the single worst public health crisis since the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. As a resident of East Dayton, my neighbors and I feel the devastating effects of heroin and opioid crisis with poignant anguish. Dayton and the broader Miami Valley has become ground zero for this crisis, and Montgomery County leads the nation in opioid related deaths every year. It is a crisis, born out of the push by pharmaceutical companies to prescribe opioids for any and all pain management therapies with callous disregard for their addictive effects. In one national survey from 2014, 94% of respondents switched to heroin due to its lower cost and ease to obtain. We simply cannot allow this to stand. I believe that we need to develop a holistic, multilateral approach to fight the opioid crisis in Ohio that balances treatment, mental health support, alternative methods for pain management, and law enforcement.
While there are very successful schools and schools that have greater challenges, each school building is comprised of teachers and staff who have dedicated their lives to educating children. As a member of a local school board, I am proud of the educators who exhibit tireless work on a daily basis. Rather than empowering the Ohio Department of Education to exact punitive measures upon school districts that are working to overcome severe challenges, the legislature should partner with ODE and the the State Board of Education to create a system whereby state agencies provide strategic and effective support. Urban school districts face unique challenges that are not necessarily shared by the majority of suburban and rural school districts. The extreme poverty found in Ohio’s urban cores has a profound impact on children and academic performance. Urban school districts must be empowered to a greater degree to work with community partners to provide the wrap-around services needed to support the whole child. Furthermore, education in Ohio needs less state regulation. Teachers should be free to do what they do best: teach. Burdensome regulations pushed down on local school districts is a hindrance, and the state legislature should take meaningful steps to return as much local control to school districts as possible. The “one size fits all” education model in Ohio is ineffective, unrealistic, and inequitable.
Standardized testing in Ohio is out of control. While effective data mapping in education is important, standardized testing should not be the only measure of a student’s abilities or a school district’s performance. The overabundance of standardized testing is a disservice to Ohio’s students. The state should take more active steps in ensuring that our educational system is one that is well-rounded, comprehensive, and truly diverse in curriculum. Additionally, the current system of ranking schools based on test performance is wrong. I concur with Republican and Democratic members of our legislature who opine that the state’s report card system must be overhauled. To label an entire school district as an “A” district or an “F” district without providing entire contextual reasoning or methodology is irresponsible. There have been various solutions offered by legislators, state board members, and others who suggest that reform is needed in this area. As an example, the value-added formula used in the measurement should be calculated in transparency. The voluminous amounts of measurements should be published in a manner that is translatable, easy to understand, and comprehensively reflective of the realities of each district.
Many children in Ohio, especially children in Ohio’s urban cores, enter kindergarten without adequate preparedness. Race and income-based achievement gaps in education are real, and preschool is an essential component in the fight for classroom readiness and lifelong learning. Access to early childhood education, regardless of income, must be encouraged and funded in Ohio. Additionally, preschool opportunities for three and four year old children, especially those with disabilities, is critically important for brain development. Finally, Ohio holds a “Third Grade Reading Guarantee,” setting a goal that every child be able to read by the third grade. Without preschool and its benefits on childhood brain development, a child’s ability to read by the third grade is in jeopardy. Preschool and all facets of early childhood education must be a priority for Ohio’s policy makers.
As the Vice President of the Board of Education of the largest public school district in Montgomery County, I am a firsthand witness to the debilitating impact that charter schools are having on public schools in Ohio. Public education is the very bedrock of American society, and it must be protected. The state legislature has created an environment in Ohio whereby charter schools may operate with little accountability or oversight, resulting in front-page headlines illustrating the fraud and corruption that too often plagues these for-profit institutions. With the unraveling of the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, or ECOT, the people of Ohio have been exposed to the profound corruption that exists in the charter school business. As Justice Brandeis once stated, “sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants,” and the people of Ohio deserve transparency in education. As it relates to charter schools, I support: (1) strengthened accountability measures that accelerate the process for closing failing charter schools; (2) application of public records laws and financial transparency standards; (3) the shifting of funding to charter schools from “pass through” funding from local school districts; and (4) the requirement of equal treatment for children with disabilities. Finally, as it relates to private schools, I believe that private schools play an important role in the educational landscape in Ohio. If an entity wishes to establish a private school, the entity should be free to do so, but the funding for the school should not be siphoned off from the public school district in which the private school is located.
As a former adjunct faculty member of Sinclair Community College, I have had the privilege of witnessing the effectiveness of affordable community college in our state. Community colleges are especially valuable in the fight to recruit and retain students in higher education. With the slashing of higher education funding by our legislators, affordability of college education is even more critical today than in previous years. For many young people, college seems out of reach. Ohio’s legislature should actively work with our community colleges, seeking strategic solutions that encourage enrollment and retention. Healthy community colleges help ensure healthy four-year institutions of higher learning, because for many, enrollment in a university for four years is simply unaffordable. I will work proactively with Ohio’s community colleges with the knowledge that with their success comes overall improvement in higher education, college affordability, and student recruitment and retention.
More gets done by reaching across the aisle than by pointing fingers. We need a representative who truly represents the people in Columbus. This is your office, and I want to represent allof the voters of District 41. I will work to restore funding to our local governments so our local taxes stop going up. I will hold regular meetings with voters so that their voices are heard. I will also fight the corruption and special interests in Columbus that are hurting all of us. I'm a Democrat, but I proudly worked for a Republican Governor, a Republican Secretary of State, and a Republican President of the United States. I grew up learning to put country before party. I have been a proud public servant all my life in such roles as: Vice President and Board Member, Dayton Board of Education; Deputy Clerk of Court, Franklin County Municipal Court; Adjunct Professor of Political Science, Sinclair Community College; Legislative Liaison, Tennessee Department of State; and Staff Assistant, Executive Office of the President, The White House. I have the experience, the know how, and the passion to work for the voters of this district. I will always put you, the voters, before party or politics. I pledge to be your Ear at home, your VOICE in Columbus.
I support Ohio’s establishment of its medical marijuana program. While I pledge to keep an open mind on the issue, I am hesitant to support full legalization of marijuana.
Abortion is an issue that bitterly divides many Ohioans. I struggle with this issue myself, as both a Catholic with deeply held religious beliefs and as someone who respects strongly the self-determination of women. I wish to focus upon two things. First, we should strive to remove the need for abortion at all by instituting strong reproductive education programs, creating ready access to birth control, and funding the search for better reproductive technologies. Second, the state must do all that it can to help women maintain healthy pregnancies and care for their children. My view is that we need to provide strong prenatal, neonatal, and pediatric care, do whatever we can to lift people out of poverty, and provide a strong education for children that they may be productive citizens.
I used to teach in a high school, and I recall driving to school the morning after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. As I parked my car before walking in, I thought “What if a tragedy happens here? What if it happens while I’m teaching class? What will I do to keep my students safe?” I will never forget how I felt in that moment. Students should feel safe in school, and government owes a responsibility to its most vulnerable citizens to provide an environment that is safe in the schoolhouse. School districts must invest in programs that address the social, emotional, and mental health of students. Teachers should be trained to spot certain troubling behavioral indicators, and the school districts should write into policy what the procedure is when a child exhibits these indicators. Prevention through treatment and counseling is a worthwhile investment. Furthermore, school districts should design, implement, and practice active shooter plans, and do so in tandem with local law enforcement. Finally, school districts should be encouraged to invest in safety hardware such as camera systems, door jam devices, digital alert systems, audible alarm systems, and other lockdown devices.
Gun ownership has become a contentious issue in our current political landscape with many mixed emotions. I am a proud gun owner and believe in the right to bear arms. As a gun owner, however, I believe, as do a majority of lawful gun owning Ohioans, that the citizens of Ohio deserve the reasonable expectation of effective, means-tested gun safety regulations. Among these, there should be a focus on universal background checks and wait periods, closing the "gun show loophole," restricting the possession of firearms by violent offenders, and putting in place appropriate liability coverage, regular licensing and gun safety training requirements.
There are 88 counties in Ohio, all of whom contribute to a Local Government Fund that was established all the way back during the Great Depression to ensure that local governments could take care of their communities. This funding source is intended to go back to local governments so they can fund the vital services that Ohioans pay for, deserve, and rely on. Yet, since 2011, Columbus has hijacked this fund to “balance” the state budget, forcing local governments to do more with less, which in many instances has meant these municipalities have had to raise local taxes to meet the burden of paying for local services. Meanwhile, Columbus is sitting on more than a $6 billion surplus that should be used to support local communities throughout Ohio. When I am in office, I will fight to restore this funding to our local governments, so that we can receive the services we paid for without the threat of raising taxes to do it.
It would be my great honor to serve the citizens of Riverside, Dayton, Oakwood, Kettering, and Centerville in the Ohio House of Representatives. My team and I have worked tirelessly to travel to the front porches of voters, having knocked on tens of thousands of doors and having called still more across District 41. In these encounters we are learning what their aspirations and challenges are, as well as their views of the issues. I hope to go to Columbus to work every day to improve the lives and neighborhoods of our communities here in Montgomery County.