June 30, 2016

Mostly clear

97th House District: Debating Ohio’s schools, jobs

Independent Gary Aukerman of Jeromesville, Republican Dave Hall of Killbuck and Democrat Ed Powers of Wadsworth are vying to serve Ohio’s 97th District, which covers southern Medina County, all Holmes County and part of Ashland County. Hall is completing his first term.

Q: What role, if any, should the General Assembly continue to play in funding education?

Aukerman: The current funding of Ohio public schools is not effec­tive or constitutional. We need everyone to support our schools, not just the landowners and busi­ness owners.

Don’t punish people for living in or running a business in Ohio.

Drop all property taxes for indi­viduals and decrease taxes for business owners. Reroute casino and lottery monies to a school fund exclusively, not into the gen­eral fund. Additionally, add a 0.25 percent sales tax to all counties, with the money staying within each county funding its own schools.

Hall: We need to find an ade­quate way to fund education while at the same time removing man­dates and unfunded mandates and giving school districts more local control. We should give school systems the flexibility to allow teachers to teach instead of spending so much time on state ­required paperwork.

Powers: Currently, our school funding system has been declared unconstitutional twice by the Ohio Supreme Court. However, the General Assembly has never been issued a deadline as to when the system must be brought into line with the Constitution. The current system is a divisionary tactic that creates the illusion of lower state taxes. However, it has led to the increase in local taxes based upon property and local income tax.

I feel it is the responsibility that the General Assembly ensures all Ohio’s children have equal access to a quality education regardless of zip code.

Q: What are your priorities if elected?

Aukerman: A jump start to our economy is going to be a jump start on jobs. Ohio needs to be job friendly, with fewer restrictions on prospective businesses and fewer taxes imposed. We need to invite businesses to Ohio, not chase them away. Also, we cannot impose new taxes on current busi­nesses, such as the hospital tax, that are already struggling.

Hall: Jobs and the economy.

Powers: Protect seniors, chil­dren, veterans and citizens over­coming disabilities in the budget. I will ensure programs like Pass­port, which helps seniors to stay in their homes instead of going into a nursing home, maintain funding.

Change gift reporting proce­dures for elected officials as to declare the dollar amount of gifts in all levels of state, county and local governments, and to make the information public no later than 30 days prior to early vot­ing.

End pension programs for elected officials.

Q: Ohio is still climbing out of the recession. How can the Legislature spur the recov­ery?

Aukerman: Ohio’s deficit needs to be cut by eliminating waste and making cuts in the budget.

The first useful cut I would rec­ommend is to return Ohio to its original 88 representatives, one for each county. Ohio has 99 rep­resentatives, a wasteful result of gerrymandering. Extra districts could be eliminated, including the 97th.

We should not ask the people of Ohio for more money until we cut the waste. The more money people have in their own wallets the better the state will be.

Hall: I’ve been working with fellow legislators and stakehold­ers, such as the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Council on Small Enterprise, local county cham­bers of commerce, business lead­ers and individuals, to formulate the “Future of Ohio Jobs Pack­age” bills. These bills will help spur economic development and create jobs in Ohio.

Powers: Give tax breaks to companies that pay a premium wage in their industry and finan­cial incentives to companies that use green energy. Vote “no” on House Bill 320, the comp time bill that will end overtime pay in the state of Ohio.