A recent letter in the Morning Journal ("White Hat, black hats") made many different claims that either lacked a proper grasp of reality or were just simply false.
It first criticized my affirmative vote on having two primary elections next year, which will cost the state about $16 million. While I did vote in favor of the bill that implemented dual primaries, to say I supported the idea is not exactly true. Having two primaries was an 11th-hour solution to a problem we did not expect to face.
In early September, Democrats and Republicans seemed to have a deal that would simply move Ohio's primary from March to May to give more time to candidates running for office in newly drawn congressional districts.
However, a couple weeks later, Minority Leader Armond Budish and other Democrats reneged on the deal. Therefore, it could not be implemented immediately. Republicans then made another effort to reach out to Democrats by altering the redistricting map. The new map gained enough approval from the Legislative Black Caucus to make the map's passage a possibility.
But Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern threatened black caucus members, saying that if they voted for the new map they would likely be matched up in a primary and receive little support from the party. So, despite obvious bipartisan support, the map failed to pass.
Another point included in the letter regarded school funding cuts. Entering this General Assembly, Ohio faced an $8 billion budget deficit. In fact the state budget did not reduce education funding but it appeared that way as the onetime federal stimulus money ended and unfortunately many schools spent those funds rather than putting them into their rainy day fund.
The provisions in the biennial budget closed the gap without raising taxes. Previous administrations saw the looming budget problems in Ohio, but refused to make tough decisions. Our state could no longer afford to ignore these realities. So, to give local governments and school districts proper tools to deal with funding cuts and manage their budgets, we passed Senate Bill 5.
Asking public employees make reasonable concessions and contributions to their healthcare and pension benefits that would make them similar to the private sector employees was a logical solution to saving public jobs, such as teachers. Good schools require good teachers, and SB 5 was an effort to keep more of them employed.
Finally, the writer criticized the fact that White Hat Management, a charter school in Akron, made contributions to Republican candidates. I, however, never accepted any contributions from White Hat, a fact the writer was surely aware of. So therefore I am curious why he included this fact in a letter, which, to that point, was devoted solely to criticizing me?
Perhaps the writer was confused about contributions as my wife and I have personally donated several million dollars to help local education, help rebuild East Liverpool's business base as well as help several new businesses start as well as existing businesses expand. I have had $0 of personal benefit but immeasurable benefit in helping people find hope and careers.
1st Ohio House District