Political Party: Democrat
Occupation: Retired Educator/Full Time Representative
1) What sets you apart as the best candidate for this seat?
I have served the public for most of my adult life, from educating our children to being a strong voice at the Capitol. I have 14 years of experience as a representative. I have worked my way up the leadership ladder in a bi-partisan manner by working with three governors and five speakers of the House.
I hold leadership roles in several different bi-partisan groups in the House. I am a conservative Democrat who has a record for voting for pro-education, pro-life and pro-business issues. I have been a strong advocate for the values and beliefs of the citizens of Northwest Georgia.
2) Education in Georgia is in a state of flux. In what direction will you push the transformation?
I support a balanced agenda of education reform and education funding. Since 2008, education funding has been cut by almost $5 billion. I support full funding of the QBE formula so our school boards do not have to raise property taxes.
More and more, the responsibility of funding for education is shifting from the state to the local school systems. I will continue to work toward ensuring that the state shoulders its responsibility of providing a quality education for all of our children and improving access to college through the Hope Scholarship.
Setting up a state level of charter schools and bypassing local control is not the answer.
3) The Legislature set up the TSPLOST vote to fix the state’s transportation funding crisis but it failed at the polls. What’s next?
I opposed the TSPLOST in 2010, knowing that the people of my district are stressed financially and cannot be obligated for such a massive tax increase extending over 10 years. Then the people voted in 2012 with a resounding vote rejecting this plan.
Over $1 billion is collected each year in motor fuel tax. Efficient, timely management of the funds can provide additional transportation projects. A penny of sales tax on motor fuel is now directed into the general fund. Used as originally intended, this tax could be used to enhance transportation projects around the state without any additional tax increase.
4) What are some specific actions the Legislature should take to get the state on a firmer financial footing?
The state of Georgia has a constitutional duty to balance its budget every year, and we do. However, until we bring more jobs to Georgia, we will continue to face budget crisis.
We have to continue tax reform, but not by increasing sales taxes on the middle class or seniors. We should close loopholes in our system that give millions to businesses for job creation without requiring that they actually provide jobs.
Also, we must continue to collect taxes from those who refuse to pay their fair share, like out-of-state businesses that compete with our local companies.
5) Medicaid expansion and insurance exchanges are two ways the Healthcare Reform Act seeks to address the problems of the uninsured and the hospitals that provide them free care. Do you support those elements or, if not, any other action by the state?
I support the expansion of Medicaid and insurance exchanges because both will be good for the people of our area and our businesses. Expanding Medicaid will add $40 billion to our state healthcare system over the next 10 years, and it will only cost Georgia 1 percent of the cost per year.
Medicaid will provide health insurance for working families who cannot afford insurance and help pay for seniors who require nursing home care. Economists estimate an economic benefit of $72 billion between 2014 and 2023. Insurance exchanges will help small businesses by lowering the cost of insurance and pooling resources.