There has been a great deal of discussion recently on overhauling the tax system in WV. What changes, if any do you believe should be made?
I believe we must reform West Virginia tax policies to make our state more competitive. I support the elimination of the business franchise tax, and I support an increase in the standard deduction for computing WV income taxes. I oppose the death tax in all forms. I support reduction of the gasoline tax. The less government takes out of our pockets the more the state of WV and her people will prosper.
How would you balance environmental concerns with the need for business profitability and job retention/creation?
As a Christian, I believe God made us to be good stewards of His creation. Without a clean and productive environment, it will inhibit business profitability. I believe that governmental rule making should be based on the sound belief that governmental rule making should be based on sound science, not on media hysteria. I also believe farmers should be allowed a fair comment period on potential new regulation before they go into effect. Most importantly, the benefits must have PROVABLE advantage of the cost of new regulation. We need to return to common sense conservatism when addressing the issue.
What is the primary challenge for landowners and mineral owners with respect to oil and gas development, and what would you propose as a solution?
I believe that the primary challenge to landowners, primarily farmers, when it comes to oil and gas development is the fair treatment of these landowners in contractual and legislative relations between the two. Landowners, holding both property and mineral rights of a certain tract of land, deserve the right to reject the development of this industry occurring on their property. Should they choose to take part, they deserve a say in how the development will affect their land, long term. The hazmat cleanup as well as the reclamation process and EPA relation check offs should be handled by gas company to not leave farmers stuck with theses daunting tasks.
West Virginia is facing many challenges. What do you consider to be the most important and critical challenge that threatens our state and what is your plan to alleviate this threat?
We face numerous problems in our state and district, but I feel the most important is the drug addiction crisis. This crisis is responsible for the ruination of countless lives, as well as multiple deaths. It has hampered the state's ability to attract new businesses, as the workforce is naturally far less reliable. Productivity is hurt by this issue. First, we must build an economic climate that allows individuals to break the cycle of despair by getting good jobs. Second, proven treatment methods must be made available to all who seek it, Recovery will make a huge difference. Third, we must attack the source of the problem, which is the interstate drug trafficking problem infiltrating our borders. Drug traffickers must be treated as though they are committing pre-meditated murder, and must be dealt with as such. Finally, I recommend that we look to join with neighboring larger states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Virginia through a joint task force to come up with the best solutions.
West Virginia has been on an economic recovery for the past few years. What ideas do you have to continue and accelerate this economic recovery?
In order to continue the economic recovery that West Virginia has experienced under conservative leadership, we must make sure that we have adequate professionally-skilled and semi-skilled workers to meet demand. This is a multi-pronged issue that must involve research into the type of job industries that we are looking to attract to West Virginia, and making sure that we have the skill sets available to meet the needs of those industries or companies to continue economic recovery. I support legislative efforts to expand the reach and affordability of trade schools. Other issues related to the question that I will fight for is the expansion of broadband internet service, as well as (with my experience in the legal profession) powerful legal reform to aid businesses. Additionally, I support the elimination of the business and inventory tax. This must be done with adequate funding to fully supplement the money lost by counties for their budgets.
As a follow-up to the previous question, are there any issues you feel could impede economic development, and therefore should be avoided?
My two incumbent opponents in the general election both support the raising of the minimum wage to $12 an hour immediately. I fully disagree with this immediate raising of the minimum wage, as this would be disastrous to businesses across the state, especially small businesses. Additionally, I oppose the general expansion of government into people’s lives. Good government is that which is not over burdensome on businesses and consumers. We do not need to dramatically expand the welfare system and social programs, which can have the opposite effect by keeping people within the endless cycle of poverty.
West Virginia is in the midst of an opioid epidemic. A recent survey of West Virginia Chamber members indicated that nearly 3 in 4 people personally know someone who is or has struggled with addiction. What ideas do you have to help end the cycle of addiction and help people re-enter the workforce?
Having lost two relatives to drug addiction, I want to end this cycle for West Virginia. The three steps I would recommend are:
1) greater money spent on enforcement to cut down the interstate supply chain from coming into West Virginia.
2) greater monies spent for early childhood training in schools to break the cycle of addiction.
3) strong mandatory pre-incarceration drug treatment programs. “Three strikes and you’re out” should be the basis of these programs. As mentioned before, this issue directly correlates with business prosperity and must continue to be addressed with vigor.
West Virginia’s students are the talent pipeline for the future. Unfortunately, our state ranks near the bottom in education outcomes. What are your ideas for improving pre-K through 12th grade student achievement? How can West Virginia attract and retain top quality teachers?
The education of our students in public schools directly correlates toward economic development. We must provide a quality education, and that can only be done if we have an environment that is suitable for learning that allows teachers to teach and students to learn. The key to that is restoring discipline back to the classrooms. I strongly believe teachers' pay should be competitive and merit-based (result-driven). Improving test scores will make our state more marketable to businesses, as our future will manifest as brighter. Additionally, I am very much in favor of the expansion of the Mountaineer Challenge Academy, beyond the campuses in Preston and now Fayette Counties. Overall, both teachers and students need to be held accountable.