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Friday, November 1, 2013

Missing News Journal Article

For those of you looking for my responses in today's Wilmington News Journal Election Edition, you will not find them in the printed edition. Somehow the page with my responses was replaced by the church directory page. The News Journal cannot explain how this happened but has apologized and the missing responses will be printed in Saturday's paper.

My responses are available online at http://wnewsj.com/main.asp?SectionID=49&SubSectionID=156&ArticleID=207764&TM=45066.07.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

What does it mean to support our teachers?

According to some, because we don't support the school levy and because we point out the disparity between the pay and benefits of our teachers vs. the rest of the Clinton Massie community that we don't support our teachers. Interesting how the quickly the focus changes from "the children" to "the teachers" but that's another story.

That got me thinking about what does it mean to support our teachers?

Apparently providing a stable home for our children and teaching them manners, respect, and obedience so that teachers don't have discipline issues in the classroom doesn't count as supporting our teachers.

Apparently helping my kids with their homework and stressing the value of education doesn't count as supporting our teachers.

Apparently volunteering at the school, in the classroom and serving in the PTO doesn't count as supporting our teachers.

According to some, apparently the only thing that counts as supporting our teachers is to provide them with raises and benefits that we in the community do not get to enjoy and that the economy no longer suppports.

It's the "elephant in the room" but it is a discussion that has to occur.

We need more jobs not higher taxes

What this area needs more than anything else is jobs and economic growth. It we can get those two things, many of the other problems we face such as school funding will be greatly improved. Higher taxes mean fewer jobs and less disposable income. Businesses in the area will have less money to use for hireing additional workers or purchasing goods and services from other local businesses. Those that can relocate may choose to move to an area with lower taxes. Businesses that might consider moving to the area may not because of the higher taxes.


From an article titled What is the Evidence on Taxes and Growth by William McBride
Source http://taxfoundation.org/article/what-evidence-taxes-and-growth

William McBride states,"This review of empirical studies of taxes and economic growth indicates that there are not a lot of dissenting opinions coming from peer-reviewed academic journals. More and more, the consensus among experts is that taxes on corporate and personal income are particularly harmful to economic growth, with consumption and property taxes less so. This is because economic growth ultimately comes from production, innovation, and risk-taking."

The Ohio State Legislature has moved to reduce state income taxes to make Ohio a more business friendly state. The goal is to cut taxes to make Ohio more competitive with other states in order to attract new businesses to the state and encourage those already here to stay and expand. The same principle applies at the local level.

Why I don't suport the school levy



I believe the past superintendent and the board has done a good job of controlling and cutting costs over the past years. I believe the board is right in putting the issue before the voters to allow the community to decide if they want to provide the district with additional resources or not.

That said, I do not support the levy because the needs of the community are being overlooked. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the average wage in Clinton County has declined over $11,000 (42%) since 2007. I do not believe it is the best interest of the children of the district to take additional money out of already strapped family budgets. Over this same period an entry level teacher hired in 2008 would have continued to get 4.2% annual wage increases totaling over $6,400 nearly a 21% increase. Teachers pay 5% of the health insurance costs for a single plan vs. 18% for the national average. Teachers pay 15% of the health insurance cost for a family plan vs. 29% for the national average.

I believe the inequality between the salaries and benefits of those working within the school and those in the community must be addressed. This will mean salary cuts and higher contributions for benefits to be more in line with the reality the community faces. Staff reductions may also be required depending on the results of salary and benefit negotiations and other cost cutting measures. This is not a war on teachers; it’s the reality of the economy the community faces. The bottom line is it’s not fair to ask an already hurting community to take a 1% pay cut while teachers continue to receive automatic 4.2% raises.

Several years ago when the economy turned down my company laid off about ~10% of our workforce and those of us that were blessed enough to remain took a 5% pay cut. Most of us preferred to take the pay cut then to see more of our friends and colleagues laid off. I had no or virtual no raises for the next couple of years. I can’t remember the last time I saw anything near a 4.2% raise.

If the levy does not pass I will not support the traditional “make-em pay” cuts such as eliminating busing and requiring pay-to-play for extra-curricular activities. These types of cuts punish the community and often end up making the community pay more than the levy cost. Extra-curricular activities play an important role in education by providing motivation, team building, and understanding the relationship of hard work to success and failure.

Another area to be considered for reduction would be the ~$82,000 we pay for dual-enrollment tuition for ~25 students to attend college courses. I think it’s great that students can attend college and earn credits but in the reality of today’s economy I don’t believe we can continue to subsidize these courses.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Forum rebuttal

In the recent commissioners candidate forum sponsored by the Clinton County Tea Party my opponent Mike Curry was asked why he didn’t use the 2005 sales tax increase for the stated purpose of debt reduction.

Mike’s response was that the Sales Tax Resolution did not say anything about the increase being used for the purpose of debt reduction therefore he could not be accused of having broken any promises.

I would like to point out that the way the sales tax was presented to the public is a different story. In a Wilmington News Journal article from July 21st, 2005 it is stated “Both plans put a large chunk of the newly-generated money toward debt service.” Mike is quoted saying “we want to reduce the debt so that those dollars going to debt service are freed up to be used as operational dollars.”

It is disingenuous for Mike to use the wording of the resolution as his defense when it is clear from his quotes that the public was lead to believe the revenue would be used for debt service.

Mike also took issue with my comment that he had raised the sales tax three times. He said that would mean he lowered the sales tax twice.

Each of the sales tax increase resolutions are for a fixed period of time meaning that the one-half percent increase goes away at the end of the stated term. Subsequent resolutions are increases in the sales tax as evidenced by the wording of the resolution.

The recently passed sales tax resolution is titled “In the matter of levying an additional county sales tax of one-half of one percent. The resolution states “Pursuant to Section 5739.026, Ohio Revised code, and for the purpose of paying the expenses of administering the increase in the tax….”. It goes on to say “….there is hereby levied a tax at the rate of one-half of one percent in addition to the tax of one percent, currently imposed…”.

The resolution wording makes it clear that is a tax increase so my statement that Mike has raised your taxes three times is accurate.

The recently passed sales tax resolution is titled “In the matter of levying an additional county sales tax of one-half of one percent. The resolution states “Pursuant to Section 5739.026, Ohio Revised code, and for the purpose of paying the expenses of administering the increase in the tax….”. It goes on to say “….there is hereby levied a tax at the rate of one-half of one percent in addition to the tax of one percent, currently imposed…”.

The resolution wording makes it clear that is a tax increase so my statement that Mike has raised your taxes three times is accurate.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Who is running for commissioner?

In talking to voters all over the county it is apparent that there is a lot of confusion about who is running for County Commissioner in this year's primary election on March 6th.

There are two seats up for election this year.

I am running against Mike Curry for one seat.

Keith Collins, Bob Johnson, Kerry Steed, and Dave Stewart are all running for the second seat vacated by Randy Riley.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

RWC Candidate Night Speech

Thanks to the Republicans Women’s Clubs of Clinton County for allowing me to speak at their Candidates Night tonight. The text of my speech is shown below (limited to 3 minutes).

* Good evening ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for your attention and interest in these important races and thanks to the ladies of the Republican Womens Club’s for giving us this opportunity to speak tonight.

* Since our time is limited I’m going to skip the personal history and invite you to go to my website vanpratt.com to learn about my background and experience. Time will not permit discussing all the issues so I will focus on a few of the issues that are important to the taxpayers of Clinton County.

* Let me begin by saying that my opponent, Mike Curry, is a nice guy so please understand that with all due respect I am not focusing on my opponent's personality, but rather, on his record.

* As Republicans we are supposed to abide by certain principles, those detailed in the Republican Party Platform. This document states, “The American people believe that Washington is broken. Short-term politics overshadow long-term interests of the nation.” I submit the same thing could be said about Clinton County.

* My opponent has been responsible for the county’s budget for over 10 years. The same problems that existed 10+ years ago still exist today. Instead of making the needed changes, the can continues to be kicked down the road.

* My opponent’s budgets have not included the recommended 25% year-to-year carry-over so there continues to be concern about making payroll and there is no emergency fund to cover anything unexpected.

* I will implement a 5 year budget forecast to improve decision making. I will work to protect the hospital funds for the long-term benefit of county taxpayers and I will work to create the proper level of carryover so that the county will not continually face fiscal emergencies.

* This Republican platform states, “Spend only what is necessary, and tax only to raise revenue for essential government functions.”

* Back in 2005 when the economy was rolling along quite well, my opponent raised the sales tax, justifying the increase as needed to pay down debt and get the county budget in order. $12M in new taxes was raised but less than $2M was used to pay down debt. Instead, my opponent increased the average General Fund Budget by of over $2M per year.

* He increased taxes by $2M per year and increased spending by $2M per year.

* This Republican platform states, “Republicans will attack wasteful spending immediately. Government waste must be taken off auto-pilot”. “The problem is too much spending not too few taxes”.

* My opponent has since voted two more times to raise the sales tax. Instead of attacking spending he has increased it.

* It will be argues that all the cost cutting that can be done has been done but when compared to the seven next larger counties my opponent’s budget was $3.3M higher than theirs.

* It begs the question, how can other county commissioners run their larger counties for $3M less than my opponent can?

* The Republican platform says, “Each agency must be able to pass a financial audit and set targets for improving efficiency with fewer resources”. I will use the other counties’ budgets as a benchmark goal and will work with the various county agencies to cut budgets to meet these goals, reducing the burden on the taxpayers.

* Will this require hard choices? Yes it will, but as Ronald Reagan said, “There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right".

* With bold conservative leadership Clinton County can have a bright future once again, we can thrive not just survive.

* The record is quite clear; it’s time for Republicans to start acting like Republicans. I am your conservative choice for County Commissioner.

* Please visit vanpratt.com for more information.

* Thank you and God Bless.