Dyce challenges Ginter for state representative seat
LISBON — Public schools, charter schools, local government funding and how to address the drug epidemic are some things John Dyce and Tim Ginter agree on.
Dyce, of Guilford Lake, is a Democrat running for the state representative seat for the first time and Ginter, of Salem, is a Republican running for re-election.
Both believe a change is needed for public school funding, and both want to see more accountability for charter schools, an increase in LGF to the county, and more funding, resources and education to combat drugs.
When it comes to schools, Dyce believes people should have a choice between public or charter schools, but public schools shouldn’t suffer financially as a result.
“We have to hold charter schools to the same accountability as public schools are. I think we have very high quality, dedicated teachers in this county. The majority of people I have been talking to while out campaigning are very proud of the schools in our county, and I feel they have a right to be proud of those schools. I think we have to take a look at how they are being funded and make sure we are not having the public schools suffer,” he said.
He doesn’t want to see funding for charter schools eliminated, but re-examine the level of funding and how it is being distributed.
For example, he is not pleased that a significant amount of state and local funding has gone away from the Beaver Local School District in particular since it is going to charter schools instead.
In January of this year Beaver Local sent a bill to the state for $4.7 million — the amount the district said it has lost in state and local funding to charter schools over the past 13 years.
Dyce said $28,000 a year from the Beaver Local district goes toward the Buckeye Online School for Success, which he pointed out is one of the worst performing schools in the county.
“We might find a lot of charter schools not in Ohio anymore if they are open to the same level of accountability as public schools,” he added.
The Columbus Dispatch reported last year that the state spends about $1 billion a year on charter schools with about 120,000 students.
Ginter said he believes that charter schools should be held accountable, not only for their performance, but so that sponsors know where their money is going.
He said Ohio House Bill 2 signed into law by Gov. John Kasich last year began to put charter schools in the position to be held more accountable.
“I believe that those charter schools that are above board will not have a problem with being held to accountability. I think it’s those bad players that are screaming foul, and if that’s the case, they need to be held accountable,” he said.
As for public schools, Ginter has already focused on “tweaking” the funding formula with other lawmakers following the state budget bill.
Ginter said he broke out in a “cold sweat” when the budgets showed that six or seven of the county schools lost money on the formula or were going into the red over two years.
The tweaking was shifting the formula away from benefitting larger school districts and making it more equitable for all districts in a way that more accurately reflects a school’s financial capabilities, he said.
Ginter also said it was Leetonia School District Superintendent R.B. Mehno who found that the existing formula was particularly favorable to larger, wealthier school districts and unfavorable to rural, smaller school districts under 1,000 students.
Mehno later testified to the house education committee and over a several months lawmakers, including state Rep. Bob Cupp, began implementing a change to the formula, Ginter said.
“The house tweaked the formula to the point where every one of our schools (will receive funding) based on enrollment of prior years,” Ginter said. “We will continue to work on that school formula. I think that it needs to be equitable to all schools.”
Ginter added that he is currently working with superintendents in the school systems to address standardized testing, and those superintendents will be meeting with Ohio Department of Education (ODE) representatives to express their concerns.
“That is one of my priorities is to see that somehow the state of Ohio changes this standardized testing so that it’s not only more fair and equitable but that they produce these tests with the input of local administrators and teachers,” he said.
As for local government funding, Dyce is disappointed to see the county “fall into disrepair and not really getting any help from the state government.”
He is also not pleased that an amendment offered up by Democratic legislators would have increased the LGF allocation from 1.66 to 2.25 percent, but it was tabled.
“That would have given our villages and townships and everybody locally more funds to work with,” he said.
Ginter said he has already attempted to get something included in the state budget that would return more LGF money to the county, and especially the townships, but was not successful.
“I will do the same thing to try to bring more money back to the LGF, not to the elimination of the rainy day fund. I think the rainy day fund is there for a reason,” he said.
The county’s LGF allocation for this year was an estimated $2.38 million, with half going to county commissioners. Salem, the county’s largest city, received the largest remaining share, which was $96,000.
Funding is also a focus when it comes to the drug problem. Both candidates said more money is needed for departments to handle the epidemic.
“When our communities are suffering, our police departments don’t have the resources they need to have adequate staffing. The medical care force doesn’t have enough beds to treat those who are addicted. There is a host of things we can do to improve how we both fight and address the real problem, which is addiction, and then make sure our law enforcement has enough money to really search and get out the people that are peddling that poison in our communities,” Dyce said.
Ginter said that as a legislator it is his responsibility to explore what areas the government can control with regards to the problem.
“Some things government can’t control,” he said.
He added that an increase in funding is needed, and pointed out that law enforcement officials at every level have said more resources are needed so department can be proactive and not just reactive.
“At this point we are so busy trying to even stay up with the overdoses and with the busts that we can’t even think about being proactive,” Ginter said.
He added he would like to see more prevention education at lower grade levels in schools and would also like to see legislation that would reduce the time when someone is arrested or picked up for an overdose and their drug tests are sent to a lab.
“I’m not sure what the answer is, but I know it is going to take all hands on deck. We are still dealing with the wills of people, they still have a choice,” he said.
If elected, Dyce said he would like to see the completion of the U.S. Route 30 bypass, last estimated to cost more than $900 million. The project would connect a new four-lane Route 30 with state Route 11 near West Point but is not a funding priority with the state.
“If we do build that, I think both our ports in East Liverpool and Wellsville will enjoy growth, will see jobs. I think that will open up a lot of opportunities,” he said.
He is disappointed it wasn’t completed earlier, when the price tag was nearly half the current cost, but is optimistic that a partnership could be created to raise money locally and spur interest to get the state moving on funding and completion of the project.
Another thing he would do if elected is call for a yearly review of the tax code.
“If you are buying a multi-million-dollar jet then perhaps you can pay more in taxes. Who else knows what is in there? I think that is where we start, review the tax code and see if there are things in there that are not really working for a majority of Ohioans,” he said.
Ginter believes the state is already making progress, however. He said that incorporated into the state budget bill was tax cuts for small businesses, with 75 percent in 2015 for businesses up to $200,000, and across the board cuts for all families, resulting in an average annual savings of $600 per household.
“That is not a lot, but that is something,” he said.
Ginter is also pleased with the passage of House Bill 116, which he was the primary sponsor of, that synchronized medication pickup dates. “That was helpful to citizens of Ohio, particularly those senior citizens that are on two or more chronic medications,” he said.
Other legislation he sponsored included House Bill 512, which reduced the notification time from 30 days to 2 days after a public water source is found to be contaminated by lead.
Bills Ginter has supported include the legalization of medical marijuana, the humane disposal of fetal remains, the defunding of Planned Parenthood and restricting Syrian immigration.
Ginter explained his support for the marijuana bill came about after statewide polls showed that 70 to 80 percent of Ohioans supported some form of medical marijuana, and also when he learned there was going to be another ballot initiative that would have would have imposed fewer restrictions.
“We had a choice. The first reason I did this is because it put it into the Ohio Revised Code instead of making a change to the constitution, which we would have had no power to change whatsoever, and it would have been far less structured, far less disciplined,” he said.
As for defunding Planned Parenthood, Ginter said the majority of people in the county do not want their tax dollars going to fund elective abortions.
“When I talk to folks in Columbiana County that is not how they want their tax dollars to go. I believe life should be respected regardless of its age or how small. Especially if it has no way of defending itself. All ages of life should be respected,” he said.
Keeping Syrian refugees out of America comes down to protecting county residents, he added.
“I do not believe we have the proper means of vetting those individuals thoroughly and properly vetting those individuals that would be entering into the state of Ohio,” he said. “My obligation right now is to protect the people of Ohio.”
Some of Ginter’s local efforts have included bringing $50,000 in funding to the Beavercreek Wildlife Center, and he is currently working with the Scenic Rivers Council in an effort to keep the local volunteer group from being sunsetted by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
He is also working with disabled veterans in East Liverpool to stop taxation on an empty lot.
Ohio and Arizona are the only two states in the nation that do not give tax-exempt status to disabled veterans if they receive property, he said.
“We are going to try to get that changed so that the disabled vets will not be charged, taxed or have taxes levied against them if they receive a building on their property,” he said.
He is also working with the county health department against a new state requirement that all local health departments have accreditation.
Dyce has no prior political experience, although he ran for Hanover Township trustee before seeking the state position. He is currently president of the Ohio State Association of Letter Carriers, a position he has held since 2009.
“My heart and my mind has been, and always will be, on the side of working men and women,” Dyce said.