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Ohio House District 79

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  • Amanda Finfrock
    (Dem)

  • Candidate picture

    Kyle Koehler
    (Rep)

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Biographical Information

What are the two biggest challenges facing the state and how would you deal with them?

What would you do to bring jobs to Ohio? Do you support JobsOhio? What changes would you make to it?

21 states have passed minimum wage increases since 2014. What do you think the minimum wage should be in Ohio?

What is your plan for resolving concerns about the skills gap many Ohio business leaders complain about?

Ohio has consistently cut income taxes over more than a decade. Do you support further reductions or increases in the state income tax? Why?

Should Medicaid expansion continue or not? Under what restrictions?

Heroin and opiate addiction have become a major issue in the state. The death tolls are rising and more families are impacted. What ideas do you have to deal with the crisis?

K-12 education in Ohio is all over the place when it comes to success. There are very successful public schools and failing ones. What ideas do you have to improve education in Ohio?

How do you feel about the current system of ranking schools based on test performance? Performance on statewide tests consistently show that districts that serve affluent communities perform better than those with high concentrations of poverty. How do we improve educational outcomes for all students regardless of wealth? And how do we hold districts accountable in a way that doesn’t just measure wealth?

Some argue the best way to close race- and income-based achievement gaps is increased funding for preschool programs. The group Groundwork Ohio argues that a child’s academic preparedness entering kindergarten is one of the greatest predictors of his or her success, yet preschool funding gets 6 percent of what the state spends on higher education. What are your thoughts on this? Do you have other ideas on how to improve kindergarten readiness for children, especially low-income children?

What is your position on school choice? What role do you think charters and private schools should play in the educational landscape?

How does Ohio need to improve higher education and deal with affordability and attracting students?

What makes you more qualified than your opponent(s) to hold this office?

Ohio is establishing its medical marijuana program. Do you support full legalization? If so, under what circumstances? If not, why not?

What is your stance on abortion issues?

Given recent school shootings, what do you think Ohio can do to make schools safer?

Ohio has passed a lot of gun issues in recent years. Do you favor gun rights – stand your ground, CCW, etc? Do you favor gun restrictions – universal background checks, bump stock ban, assault weapons ban, etc?

Schools, cities and counties continue to complain that state funding has been cut, forcing them to cut services and/or raise local taxes. How will you work with local governments?

What else do you want the voters to know about you and your campaign?

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Experience State Representative Kyle Koehler is serving his second term in the Ohio House. He represents the 79th District, which includes portions of Clark County. Representative Koehler serves as the Vice-Chair of the Agriculture & Rural Development Committee. He also serves on the Federalism and Interstate Relations committee and the Education Committee in the Ohio House. A life-long resident of the county, Kyle graduated from Wright State University in 1984 with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Computer Science. He spent seven years working for government contractors for the Air Force and Navy as a Senior Software Engineer. He worked on everything from applying artificial intelligence to signal analysis to developing human interface systems for naval aircraft. He returned to the family business as a Vice President in charge of Design and Development in 1990. K.K. Tool is the quintessential family business in that Kyle works with his six brothers and sisters (and the rest of their employees) to make K.K. Tool Company a growing success. He is actively involved with his church, Fellowship Christian Church in Springfield, and a lifelong supporter of Young Life in Springfield. He is also a member of North Hampton Lions Club and Springfield Kiwanis. Representative Koehler and his wife, Kathrin, have been married for 30 years. They have five children (ages 25, 23, 21, 19 and 17).
Education Bachelor's of Science Degree in Computer Science, 1984 from Wright State University (with Honors). Graduate of Catholic Central High School, 1980 (with Honors)
The first challenge we face as a state is keeping Ohio competitive when it comes to producing products sold beyond its borders. Ohio will not grow as a state if we don’t produce things that bring outside revenue into the state. Every time we put a seed in the ground, steel in a machine or code in a computer – we need to understand that Ohio only grows if we sell it to someone outside of Ohio. We need to do everything we can to stay competitive with other states and other countries.

Second, we need to concentrate on helping families stay healthy. Emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually. While this is not the State’s job under our Constitution, we need to mobilize communities as best government can (within its restrictions) to see that parents have the resources available to raise healthy children in homes where the parent is the primary caregiver and children are being educated first in the home and then in the school setting of their choice. Some say 80% of the money collected in taxes is used to educate, medicate and incarcerate residents of Ohio. I used to think that was funny… it isn’t anymore. We need to do better.
As an elected official, I have been fighting to reduce the cost of doing business in Ohio. By reducing taxes and regulations we are making Ohio more business-friendly. When government gets out of the way, we allow groups like JobsOhio and our own Chamber of Greater Springfield to attract new business like Topre America and Silfex to Springfield and Clark County. The low cost of doing business is what keeps companies like Speedway growing and investing in our area. I support JobsOhio. I know that government does not create jobs, but it can inhibit new growth. I would not change JobsOhio.
Report after report in the Springfield News-Sun has shown that skilled job availability has increased wages in Clark County and all over Ohio. We don't have a shortage of good paying jobs in Clark County or Ohio. Hundreds of thousands of skilled jobs are unfilled across Ohio right now. It is not an issue of raising the minimum wage (the wage you pay someone with absolutely no experience, no skills and no work record). It is an issue of raising up workers who are worth MORE than the minimum wage. It is about graduating students who are either ready for college or trained to be ready for the workforce.
I have supported job training initiatives by community colleges like Clark State. Collaborative work between local business and education is helping students see what jobs are available and what training programs are needed by local schools (both K-12 and Higher Ed). As a manufacturer trying to fill positions in our own company, I understand that we need to make sure that every student that graduates from high school is either ready for college or accredited with jobs skills to enter the workforce.
It wasn’t until 1972 that we passed laws to create the income tax in Ohio. Until then, Ohio grew and prospered without collecting an income tax in Ohio. Since instituting the income tax in Ohio, we have seen the population drop as jobs and people have left Ohio. It has hurt us in many ways including the number of people who represent us in Washington DC. We need to continue to move to towards eliminating the state income tax on all Ohioans. We basically eliminated all income tax on those who choose to create their own business (LLCs) by setting tax at zero for the first $250k you earn. We are promoting job growth by rewarding those who are willing to sacrifice every day to grow their own business in Ohio.
Obviously providing free healthcare for over 700,000 Ohioans has had a positive effect on the health of Ohioans. But it has had a negative effect on our National Debt that has gone from $9 trillion to $19 trillion dollars. We are paying for Medicaid Expansion with IOUs. The persons who will pay for this debt have not even been born yet. Since I don't believe that Medicaid Expansion is going to go away, I support work requirements like those we passed in the budget but were vetoed by Governor Kasich. Able-bodied individuals between 18 and 55 with no dependents should be required to work or work at job training to receive free health care in Ohio.
I voted for and supported House Bill 64 that provided $180 million in new dollars to help fight the opiate epidemic in Ohio. By targeting Mental Health, Treatment, Prevention and Workforce Development we are attempting to attack this issue on all fronts. Opiate overdoses are down dramatically in 2018. I wish I could say that we are winning the battle, but sadly many addicts are moving away from heroin and finding substitutes that are less deadly. The battle continues and the $180 million in new taxpayer dollars is what I have done to engage the enemy of addiction.
We need to have to move away from the ever-changing standardized tests. When I took office four years ago we were struggling with PARCC testing in schools. It was the #1 issue I heard about from schools, teachers, students and parents. We have continued to simply lower the bar on these tests - instead of fixing the real problem. In the end, the answer to improving education in Ohio might not lie in the schools but with re-engaging parents and helping them realize that they are the most influential person in a child's life. Raising good students is the key to teaching and educating good students. If we want to change the schools we have to help re-engage parents.
I am not sure I agree with the premise here. Does a person’s wealth give them an advantage – most certainly. But I am not sure when we ask little Susie or Billy to spell “bookbag” we are only measuring wealth. History has shown us that even those from the poorest of backgrounds can succeed and sometimes in the worst of conditions. In Springfield, the State of Ohio contributes $8,558.00 over what is raised local through property taxes to fund each Springfield City school student. When I took office it was only $6,141.00. That is a 40% increase. Again funding has increased by 40% per student since 2014. Not to sound like a broken record but the issue is not funding – it is parental involvement. If you want to improve educational outcome, improve parenting and parental involvement. No amount of money can replace that.
We desperately have to re-engage parents. As a home-educating father of five, I can tell you that just an hour-a-day of interaction between a child and his parent (even just reading to them for 20 minutes) can change how prepared a child is for entering school. Simply educating parents in the effect of one less hour of TV and one hour of interaction with their child can not only change the outcome of school performance in the future but also improve the mental health of their child. We need to re-engage parents and teach them that their involvement with the child is the biggest factor in academic preparedness.
I am a proponent of school choice in Ohio. Every student is different and parents should be able to choose between traditional public, public chartered, private or home education for their children. Regarding charter schools, I co-sponsored and helped pass House Bill 2 in my first term that brought more accountability to charter schools in Ohio. This term, I co-sponsored and helped pass House Bill 87 that says if charter schools are found to have mismanaged their funds by the State Auditor that the money should be returned to the school districts it came from.
We need to consider if government involvement in paying for higher education is the catalyst behind the rising cost of college across the country. We need to reduce remediation and improve K-12 education so that students are ready for college. Finally, we need to think about reducing the cost of tuition for students who will stay in Ohio for their first job.
My opponent and I have very different life experiences. I have been married for 30 years. I have raised five children. I own a home and pay property taxes in Clark County. My opponent does not own any property or pay property taxes. I own a business, have employees and know what it means to make a payroll. I know what it means to juggle paying for college, house payments and things like weddings (three in 15 months). My opponent has done none of those things. I have lived here my entire life. My opponent just moved back here two years ago. We are very different. I do not believe any of these differences makes me a better person than my opponent, BUT it gives me the life experiences to make the best decisions when listening to constituents who are struggling to do all these things in their own lives.
No, I do not support the legalization of recreational marijuana. In 2016, I was the only State Representative in Ohio to hold a local forum to listen to my constituents on the issue of Medical Marijuana. It was clear, from listening to parents of teens suffering from seizures and other medical ailments, that they wanted an alternative to pumping their children full of opiates and other medication that was doing unknown and possibly irreparable damage to their children. That is why I voted to support Medical Marijuana.
I believe life begins at conception and we should protect the life of the mother and her baby unless medical procedures fail the doctor. My wife and I also support the life of the baby after they are born by being actively involved and financially supporting 19 adoptions over the last several years. We also financially support and are actively involved in our local Pregnancy Resource Clinic in Springfield.
I co-sponsored and helped pass House Bill 318 that provides money and training for school resource officers in public schools. The President of our Board of County Commissioners, Rick Lohnes, has actually been ahead of the curve in helping provide more and more school resource officers in our Clark County Schools. In the end, though, we need to find a way to get mental health help for students who may be struggling and identify them before the unthinkable happens. We don't have a gun issue in schools, we have mental health issues.
Restricting gun rights for law-abiding citizens has not stopped gun violence in cities like Chicago. I don’t expect it to stop it in Ohio either. More gun restrictions only enable those who ignore the law to take advantage of those who are left helpless by obeying the law. We have background checks. We already restrict fully-automatic weapons. We don't have a gun issue in Ohio, we have a mental health issue in Ohio. We have no place to put students or adults who are found to be a danger to themselves or others. More gun restrictions do not help those who have mental health issues in Ohio.
I have heard about "cuts in Local Government Fund (LGF)" from local officials since the moment I took office. Cuts in LGF took place before I was elected in 2014. The complaint usually focuses on the $2 billion dollars held in Ohio's Rainy Day Fund. To be honest, $2 billion dollars only represents 8% of our state's budget and we would expect ANY local municipality to have at least 8% set aside for when times get bad. As a conservative, I want to see any tax dollars that we send to Columbus come back to our area. That is why I voted for House Bill 415, that returns 1/2 of any new surplus to local governments (like Enon, New Carlisle and Springfield) for paving municipal roads across Ohio. In 2018, that would have amounted to $385 million dollars being set aside for local roads in Ohio.
In 2017 and 2018, I listened when my local constituents asked me to do something about predatory lending in Springfield and across Ohio. I fought a fierce battle in Columbus over my House Bill 123 to reform payday lending. I fought the lobbyists. I fought people within my own party. I worked with both Republicans and Democrats to pass a bill that everyone in Columbus told me I couldn't do. "The Fairness In Lending Act" signed by the Governor happened because I put people over politics in my district and went to Columbus to fight for you. It has been an honor to serve you for the last four years and I am asking for your vote to serve for two more years.