On Nov. 2, Democrat Jack Schira of Brunswick Hills Township once again will face Republican incumbent William Batchelder, a 30-year veteran of the Ohio House of Representatives, for the 69th District seat.
The district encompasses all but the southern portion of Medina County. Schira unsuccessfully tried to unseat Batchelder, a Medina resident, in 2006 and 2008.
Q: What role, if any, should the General Assembly continue to play in funding education?
Batchelder: First, our Medina County schools are among the best here in Ohio. As more people move into our county from the surrounding region, obviously we are seeing an influx of new students at our schools. This rapid growth is forcing our schools to place bond issues and tax levies on the ballot more often. We need a school funding formula that follows the student, not the school, in order to provide districts with growing populations the resources needed to create a successful learning environment.
In this term, I voted against a school funding plan that reduced state funding to our schools in Medina County.
Schira: The General Assembly must continue to play the same role it has always played in funding education. It simply has to be made constitutional so that it is fair to the good schools that are doing their local funding properly. No more charter schools that take away public school dollars. They are a waste and spend local tax dollars improperly. No more giving 80 percent of state tax collections to some schools and 120 percent to others that are not doing well or have not collected enough locally.
Q: What are your priorities if elected?
Batchelder: My No. 1 priority will be job creation and economic growth. Ohio is facing an $8 billion deficit and in order to get back on track we will need to reduce the size and cost of our state government to produce greater efficiency and accountability with taxpayer dollars.
We must not fix the budget by raising taxes; raising taxes will drive businesses to other states. A balanced budget and a reformed tax system will encourage businesses to come and to stay in Ohio, thus creating jobs for Ohioans.
Schira: My priorities are jobs and smoothing our school funding. The 69th District has some of the best high schools in the state and I think in the nation. Let’s work out the kinks in our funding approaches. Jobs are tough and most of the solutions have to start on the national level, but Ohio can compete effectively by focusing on future “green” industries and the growth of ethanol. We must find work for our people.
Q: Ohio is still climbing out of the recession. How can the Legislature spur the recovery?
Batchelder: I’ve lived in Medina County my whole life and we have people here who want to work hard, but some cannot find a job.
In this term, as the leader of our caucus, we developed 20 bills focused solely on job creation, economic development and government reform. Unfortunately the Democrat-controlled House did not allow a single one of those ideas to be voted on.
By passing a fiscally responsible state budget, cutting bureaucratic red tape and creating a more businesses friendly tax code, the Legislature would allow private economic development to occur and with it job creation and recovery.
Schira: The Legislature can spur the recovery by helping local communities attract businesses with tax breaks, etc. Also, the Legislature needs to task state schools to find the best agricultural products to produce ethanol and to fund ethanol refining stations. Corn is not the answer.