Thursday, July 24, 2014





Candidates: Ohio House of Representatives, 4th District


August 24. 2013 4:44PM
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The Lima News sent questionnaires to every candidate in races in Allen, Auglaize, Hardin, Putnam and Van Wert counties for this election section. Candidates had the opportunity to give biographical information and discuss major issues in their races. Candidates also had an option to submit a photograph. Only names and residences identify candidates who did not return a questionnaire yet. We continue to receive more questionnaires every day, so check back here soon to see the latest submitted answers.



OHIO HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 4TH DISTRICT



[image#2, align=left, size=thumbnail]Matt Huffman (incumbent)



Party: Republican



Residence: Merit Avenue, Lima



Age: 50



Campaign website: www.MattHuffman.org



Education: Bachelor’s degree in government from University of Notre Dame in 1982; juris doctor from University of Cincinnati Law School in 1985



Relevant experience: Lima City Council’s 4th Ward councilman from 1991 to 1998; council president from 1998 to 2006; state representative from 2006 to present, having worked on the health, education, ways and means, civil and commercial law and agriculture committees



Years living in area: 50



Major issues: The single most important issue in 2010 facing the State of Ohio is the creation and retention of jobs. In the last three and a half years, Ohio has lost more than 400,000 jobs. Until Ohio commits to a long-term plan of business-friendly growth in its tax and regulatory structure, Ohio will not be able to compete with surrounding states.



The revision of tax and regulatory structure is not the only impediment to job creation. The state has to be run well on a simple administrative basis. Unfortunately, in my tenure, I have had to deal with several agencies that simply were not responsive to job creators, and Ohio has suffered as a result. In one instance, a state agency told a company interested in building a plant in Allen County that it would take a year to have an answer to a question regarding the siting of power lines. This is unacceptable.



As a multi-billion dollar state budget hole looms, what types of cuts do you favor when balancing the budget?



House Bill 25 is a bill that I co-sponsored and was introduced in the Ohio House of Representatives. This is a bill that would consolidate 24 state departments into 11 departments. There is an extraordinary amount of duplication in job duties and other actions at the state level in Columbus. The passing of this bill would save approximately $1.2 billion.



Beyond this government restructuring, there are a number of programs that should be eliminated. For example, I introduced a bill in the last General Assembly to eliminate the random insurance identification program. A program like this is an example of many which benefits one industry but is paid for by the taxpayers as a whole.



Additionally, the process by which projects are bid at the state level should be restructured. This process was put in place in the 1880s. Simply allowing a basic change in contracting status for major state projects would save approximately $400 million per year. This is a change that The Ohio State University has pushed for and has cost our state universities and other institutions millions of dollars.



Finally, it is estimated that appropriate audits of a variety of programs within the Medicaid program could save approximately $302 million. These audits would ensure that money is not being paid unnecessarily or not paid for people who actually do not qualify for the program.



What priority do you place on local government funds and state education funds as you consider the budget woes?



It should be stressed that most of the functions of state government are actually administered by local entities, whether they are cities, villages, counties, school districts, health districts, park districts or a variety of other local governmental entities. These funds are important because they are directly spent on services for the citizens and taxpayers of the State of Ohio. This is precisely why the key to solving the multi-billion dollar state budget hole lies in Columbus with the various agencies.



Additionally, my concern with state education funds lies in two places. Gov. Strickland’s last budget, which I voted against, cut state education funds in at least 60 percent of the school districts in Ohio. Additionally, funding for parochial schools suffered massive cuts. Finally, the state should discontinue forcing unfunded mandates upon local school districts. I have joined in an effort with several of my colleagues to prevent this from happening. These are specific ways that we can help local governments and education districts deal with current financial issues.



What is the best way legislators can help Ohio’s economy?



The fundamental question in this election is whether the government or the private sector should be the source of job creation. I firmly believe that the private sector must be the source for job creation and therefore the key to success is reviving Ohio’s economy. Governments in general are singularly ill-suited for such activity. I have voted against the so-called “stimulus” bills at the state level. These stimulus bills, by and large, amount to taking tax money from one group of people and, after the government has carved off a slice for a variety of administrative reasons, then redistributing it to another group, then claiming that somehow jobs are created.



A simple analogy shows the fallacy of this thinking. If one takes a pail of water from one end of the lake and walks to the other end of the lake after spilling out several drops, and then pours that bucket in at the other end of the lake, the level of the lake has not risen. In fact, it is less. However, government “stimulators” believe as they are pouring that bucket of water into the lake that they are somehow doing good.



Ohio’s economy can recover if we allow entrepreneurs to keep more of what they earn, so they can continue to invest in their businesses, their families and their communities and not punish those entrepreneurs for being successful. If we do, Ohio will return to the economic powerhouse it should be.



[image#1, align=left, size=thumbnail]Connie Miller



Connie Miller



Party: Democrat



Residence: Kingswood Drive, Lima



Age: 60



Campaign website: www.conniemillerforohio.com



Education: Graduated from Allen East High School; associate’s degree from The Ohio State University, Lima; bachelor’s degree from Bluffton University



Relevant experience: Successful small business owner, Connie Miller Insurance, Inc.; past president and first vice presiddent, LACNIP; Allen Lima Leadership; Allen 2020/Common Threads Housing chair; Founding board member, Samaritan House; organized first Ottawa River cleanup; organized LACNIP’s Community Gardens; chaired National Night Out Against Crime; in Town Square 2010; member, Lima Noon Optimist; member, Lima Allen County Chamber of Commerce



Years living in area: Entire life, born in Bluffton and raised near Lafayette



Major issues: With jobs, we need them, not fast-food jobs but real jobs paying a living wage. Recent announcements of plant expansions in Ottawa and Russells Point emphasize the importance of adopting a regional strategy for development. (A prominent Lima businessman was involved with the plant expansion in Ottawa.) We need to make sure Allen County’s people are trained and qualified for these new positions.



With education, we must continue education reforms that have made Ohio’s education system the most innovative in the country.



Tax equity must close the budget gap. Ohio must solve its budget deficit, but not on the backs of Ohio’s middle-class families. Tax reforms mid-decade reduced Ohio’s tax structure for large businesses to one of the best in the nation, while small service and retail businesses saw their tax burdens increased. We should reform tax expenditures and create a comprehensive tax plan for Ohio that respects Ohio’s citizens, encourages growth, and closes the deficit.



With election reform and reapportionment reform, Ohio can no longer afford partisan gamesmanship. Ohio will likely lose two congressional seats due to population decline. How the new congressional districts are drawn will determine Ohio’s and the nation’s future. Ohio Democrats offered for years to establish a fair and equitable system of drawing districts, but Republicans refused to adopt a bipartisan process. If we continue gerrymandering to create districts where there’s no competition, legislators such as my opponent will continue to vote his interests rather than the voters’ interests. I support election and reapportionment reform.



As a multi-billion dollar state budget hole looms, what types of cuts do you favor when balancing the budget?



We must develop paperless technology in all departments and agencies, as feasible.



We must encourage consolidation of service delivery entities at a regional or county level, such as we’ve seen here in Lima and Allen County with the improved cooperation of city and county law-enforcement agencies.



We must eliminate “double-dipping” of personal income tax exemptions and credit for dependents.



We must review tax credits and exemptions to current state income tax law – such as the deductibility of gambling losses – and consider changes.



We must prevent public employees at the state or local level from concurrently receiving retirement benefits and salary for the same or similar job.



We must develop long-term strategic budget planning for Ohio, updated annually, that provides greater stability and predictability for private-sector business planning. Much of the work for this process is already being done but not put together into a comprehensive document.



We must suspend for one year any controlling board expenditures not necessary to maintain essential state programs and services until the current financial crisis is resolved.



We must require state agencies to use modified zero-based budgeting for 2012-13 biennial budget.



We must conduct independent performance audits of targeted programs and services, with the goal of implementing cost savings. The state auditor recently audited the Ohio Lottery Commission and found it operating efficiently.



We must look at things as simple as requiring only one license plate on vehicles.



We must move the state legislators’ pay decrease bill out of the Republican-controlled state senate.



What priority do you place on local government funds and state education funds as you consider the budget woes?



The Local Government Fund represents a critical element of state assistance to local governments (cities, townships and counties). It is often the third- or fourth-largest source of income for local governments.



Some sharing of major state taxes with local governments should be retained, as it is often used to pay for state-mandated programs.



State and local revenue reductions from House Bill 66 and House Bill 318 tax changes have greatly reduced state revenues and thus the LGF. The recession has further reduced local government funds. Local governments are faced with finding new revenue sources or enacting spending cuts.



I place a higher priority on state education funds. Education should remain a top state priority. According to the constitution, education is a fundamental purpose of state government. Education has actually declined as a share of state spending over the last 20 years. Ohio finally has an education funding plan that brings it into constitutional compliance. This new plan relies more heavily on state funding and less on local property taxes, so it’s imperative that the state budgets funds to meet the OEBM for educational funding.



In addition to K-12 funding, it’s important that higher education funding be maintained to keep tuition costs from rising so Ohio can continue the trend of increased college enrollment. Ohio is building for the future by concentrating on new technologies and high-tech industries. Ohio’s universities play a critical role in developing these new technologies and providing an educated work force for the high tech jobs.



What is the best way legislators can help Ohio’s economy?



The best way legislators can help Ohio’s economy is putting partisanship aside and working on real solutions to Ohio’s budget challenges and growth opportunities.



Ohio must adopt clean elections. This takes the influence of money out of the election process and make legislators accountable directly to the voters.



At a minimum, we need to reform Ohio’s apportionment board process to foster competitive elections in all districts. Because of gerrymandering, most Ohio legislative districts are won by a 60-plus percent margin. When one party holds such an overwhelming majority, any legislator who votes with the opposition party on good legislation is punished for working with the other side by a primary challenge from extremists in his or her own party. Consequently most legislators are not willing to reach across the aisle and work with their political rivals to find solutions.



Ohio’s Third Frontier is a $700 million statewide investment program aimed at funding efforts of visionary researchers and developers to transform Ohio from an old-school manufacturing state to a tech-based economy. Legislators from both political parties endorsed Ohio’s Third Frontier renewal on Ohio’s May ballot. My opponent opposed even putting Third Frontier on the ballot. Allen County voters overwhelmingly approved Third Frontier, meaning Matt Huffman opposed the majority of Allen County voters.



My opponent accepts large donations from special interest groups and votes to benefit those special interests. I don’t have large contributors, so I will listen to Allen County’s citizens and vote to get Ohio’s economy moving forward.





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