Republican state Rep. Jim Butler is facing Democratic challenger James Calhoun in the race for Ohio’s 41st House district.
The district includes Kettering, Oakwood, Riverside and part of Centerville.
We asked Butler and Calhoun questions about jobs, schools and other issues as part of our voters guide. See some of their answers below. Find other answers and learn about other candidates and issues on the ballot at vote.daytondailynews.com
Q: What are the two biggest challenges facing the state and how would you deal with them?
Jim Butler: Ohio needs more and better jobs. Our state has lagged the national average in per capita job creation and wage growth for years. Business leaders are smart – they locate their businesses in states where they make the most money.
Accordingly, if we want a flood of companies with good jobs to come to Ohio, we have to make Ohio the best place to do business. This does not only mean the best tax structure for doing business, it also means the best education system that supplies the best workers, the most modern infrastructure, the lowest health care costs, and the most common-sense regulations.
In order to fix these very broken areas, we need to think differently. What we have been doing has not worked. We have to try something new and be bold. Elected officials must have the courage to overcome powerful special interests that will do everything they can to keep the system broken and money flowing to them.
A large threat to Ohio’s economy is the unrelenting and unsustainable rise in health care costs. This impacts businesses and families alike: businesses are less competitive and families struggle with huge increases in premiums and out-of-pockets costs with no increase in wages.
Rising health care costs cripple our local governments and schools as well. Medicaid costs now occupy over 50 percent of Ohio’s budget, crowding out equally important areas like education, infrastructure, and law enforcement.
The next time a recession hits, more people will need Medicaid and there will be less revenue to pay for it. Unless we act, Ohio will eventually need a federal bailout or face bankruptcy.
Last year I introduced HB 157, which contained major reforms in nearly every area of health care. In the budget last year, we passed two of the major reforms in that bill, the most important of which was health care price transparency. Starting next year, patients will be given an estimate of the cost of the services they are getting before they get them.
James M. Calhoun: Two biggest challenges facing the state are Education and protecting the middle class.
The state of Ohio education system is a mess and people of Montgomery County are paying too high of a price for it. Kettering-Fairmont School district has had to shell out over $1 million in taxpayer subsidies to for profit charter schools. This is not just state dollars.
The people of Kettering are footing the bill for this. Just under half a million dollars have been sent to ECOT. Imagine what our local schools could do with a million dollars.
I will ensure that Ohio Tax payers know where their money is going and that it is being used in an efficient way. Protecting Ohio’s middle class is essential to a successful. I will do this by protecting workers rights and preventing laws like right to work.
I will also push for an increase in the minimum wage. Support retraining programs for displaced workers and back legislation that hires local.
Q: What will be your top priority if elected?
Jim Butler: My top priority is, and has always been, to help improve the lives of Ohioans by fixing our economy so it works for all the people, not just those who give politicians contributions.
Time and again special interests are at the table in Columbus offering their ideas or their views on legislation, but too many times the people are forgotten. I have spent my time so far in office on the biggest issues – health care, education, infrastructure, criminal justice/public safety (tax policy, over-regulation and help for veterans as well).
These are more than 90 percent of Ohio’s budget and all these areas are very broken. From bureaucratic inertia to the huge amounts of money being made by certain groups, the challenges facing us are formidable.
I will continue to fight to enact major reforms needed to improve the lives of all Ohioans – reforms that would lead to economic growth with more and better jobs and with higher wages for everyone, not just the wealthiest.
We can vault from one of the slowest growing states in the country to one of the fastest and most dynamic if we address these major issues and make our state a place where businesses come and grow.
James M. Calhoun: Education will be my top priority. The voters of the 41st district have recognized the importance of a solid educational foundation. Since Governor Kasich’s election, his policies have resulted in nearly half a billion dollars being cut from traditional public schools across the state, with funding being diverted to unsuccessful charter school programs.
The current administration’s policies have forced local governments, who are already feeling the most impact from the latest budget cuts, to pick up the pieces and pass costly levees to meet the needs of the school district.
I will also be working with local officials in order to expand programs like PreSchool Promise, that was launched right here in the 41st District.
I believe that preschool is essential in the education development of our children and will fight hard in order to ensure access to similar programs in other cities.