Jobs, the economy and education are top issues for the two candidates seeking Ohio’s 4th Senate District.
Voters in the district will decide if they want to keep Sen. Bill Coley, a 12-year Statehouse veteran for four more years, or if they want Oxford Twp. Trustee John Kinne, a 40-year resident of the township.
Coley is a Republican from Liberty Twp. and is seeking his second, and last, four-year term in the Ohio Senate. He plans to do what he has been doing since he was appointed in 2011 and subsequently elected in 2012, which includes having a “strong, laser-focus on the budget.” Coley says his efforts have helped Ohio go from one of the highest taxed states with a $4 billion deficit, to among the middle of states and a $2 billion surplus.
“That is a great story to tell,” Coley said of the improvement, “and we can still do better.”
But Kinne, a Democrat, said he believes it’s time for a philosophical change in the district’s representative in Columbus. The district has been represented by a Republican since its inception in 1967, when the current makeup of the General Assembly was created.
“I think I can do better,” said Kinne. “I have a long history of working with people who have different ideas and different priorities.”
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The 4th Ohio Senate District incorporates most of Butler County. There’s a large portion of Middletown — which includes AK Steel and the surrounding properties — that is a part of the state’s 7th Senate District.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich will present his third biennium budget next year, and both candidates say education should be addressed in that budget.
Both believe education is an important aspect to the state’s future, but Ohio while ranks higher than the national average in overall education it’s in the middle of the pack when compared to the rest of the country, according to the past three years of Education Week’s yearly analysis.
Coley said a key component to a student’s formal education is science education. He said he’d like to see a program where local science museums and institutions help develop science curriculum with the local educators.
If re-elected, he would put this plan into motion and proposed Butler County be a testing location for this project.
“Teachers will have the support of the state and that will improve the science education for our youngest students,” he said.
Kinne said “education in Ohio is not where it should be,” but said there’s no easy solutions.
“If we are failing our citizens in educating their children, we’re not going to bring jobs into the state that we want to bring into the state,” he said. “Funding is the problem, and accountability is the problem.”
Both Coley and Kinne want to see the state on more stable economic ground, but approaches to achieve that would be different.
Coley believes the state needs to move to a flat income tax, which is already done on the municipal levels.
“You can do it, and it’s revenue neutral,” he said. “When you micro-manager you get things convoluted, and I think that hurts Ohioans.”
He’d like to see a 3½ percent flat state income tax, which would provide more than enough income for the state, and more money can be delivered back to the local governments.
Kinne said a lot of things are tied to the economy — such as education and infrastructure — but Ohio’s tax structure needs overhauled.
“They say that someone living at poverty or below are paying about 12 percent of their income in state and local taxes. Someone in the upper income is paying about 6 percent in state and local taxes,” said Kinne. “That doesn’t seem right to me. That seems like a reverse Robin Hood.”
He would like to follow up on the Energy, Jobs and Progress in Ohio program former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland had worked to implement.
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