First up...Democrat Eric Kearney and Republican Tom Brown
Both Senator Kearney and Mr. Brown thanked us for the opportunity to communicate with Norwood voters here, and we certainly expressed our appreciation for their participation.
This November, Ohio voters will decide Issue 3, an initiative to expand gambling via slot machines at seven racetracks. Please tell us why you are either for or against more venues for gambling in Ohio.
Eric Kearney: As your State Senator, I support Issue 3 that allows the expansion of gambling via slot machines at seven racetracks in Ohio. The revenue generated with this expansion will provide much needed economic development resources for the State of Ohio. Specifically, Hamilton County will receive substantial dollars that will provide a source of revenue that will support economic revitalization. In addition, college scholarship funding will be made available to students throughout Hamilton County and the State of Ohio.
Our community is surrounded by gambling venues in both Indiana and Kentucky that have received economic benefit driven by citizens of Ohio. As your state Senator, I believe it is time for Ohio to receive the same economic benefit as our neighboring States.
Tom Brown: Currently the only legalized gambling in Ohio are racetracks, charity events and the State’s Lottery system. Other states have had success in raising revenues and creating jobs by allowing additional gambling opportunities. Ohioans travel to Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania to gamble, why not expand gambling here to keep this revenue in Ohio.
Casino and racetrack gambling would produce needed jobs, especially here in the 9th District. A riverboat style casino on the Cincinnati waterfront would be a source of revenue, produce jobs and add to Cincinnati’s river town image.
The jobs created would pay significantly more than a job at Wal-Mart. Unfortunately, my opponent has spent his time in Columbus working on how to stop Wal-Mart from expanding in Ohio instead of working on how to create better job opportunities for the district’s citizens.
In July, the Ohio Supreme Court unanimously ruled in the Norwood eminent domain case that economic development alone is not a public use. In August, the Ohio Task Force on Eminent Domain narrowly voted 12-11 in favor of a constitutional amendment that would, if enacted, 1.) establish a single standard for eminent domain statewide and 2.) prohibit the seizure of properties strictly for economic development. What are your positions on both a statewide single standard for eminent domain and the prohibition of property seizures strictly for economic development as recommended by the task force?
Eric Kearney: As your State Senator, I support both a statewide single standard for eminent domain and the prohibition of property seizures strictly for economic development. It is the State of Ohio’s responsibility to control government seizure of individual property. We must protect the constitutional rights of every individual property ownership right’s in Norwood and the State of Ohio.
Tom Brown: A single statewide definition of eminent domain is needed. There are too many variations in what exactly eminent domain is between the different cities and townships in the state. One of the tougher issues on the subject of eminent domain is reconciling the differences between the ruling of the Ohio Supreme Court’s Norwood decision and the Federal Supreme Court’s New London decision.
I am opposed to the “absolute” prohibition of property seizures strictly for economic development. While some cities in Ohio have the physical room to develop land for economic purposes, many older cities are landlocked. With the enactment of the township preservation law in Ohio, older Ohio cities can no longer annex townships to expand their economic base. There needs to be a provision that will allow these cities to exercise the ability to recreate. If not, the only provision left would be to drastically increase taxes on property owners. This in turn will drive more homeowners and businesses out of landlocked cities making the situation even worse.
A major deterrent to my support for the current proposed Ohio Constitutional amendment is the provision that calls for removal of Home Rule in Ohio. Home Rule is a provision in the Ohio Constitution that allows cities and townships to control their own revenue. Without Home Rule, a city has no say on how to generate or spend its own revenue. The State can direct the funds without the wishes of the city.
Many Norwood homeowners suffered sticker shock when they saw their property reassessments last year. Approximately 80% of our local property taxes go to the Norwood School District. The reassessment added another $950,000+ annually to the district’s revenues. Despite this, our board of education is talking about placing a new levy before voters next year. What are your solutions to fixing the problems with public education funding in Ohio, and do they include shifting any of the tax burden away from local property owners?
Eric Kearney: As your State Senator, I believe it is imperative that Ohio revises its school funding system. We must demand a fair and equitable system that ensures that our Public Schools receive the funding needed to educate our Children. I am the father of two young children and have been active in organizations that strive to improve the quality of education of our community’s children. The solution I recommend is to expand Casino gambling in Ohio and utilize the additional tax revenue to support school funding. We must seek all options available to increase revenue sources that do not shift the burden to local property owners in the 9th District and the State of Ohio.
Tom Brown: The Ohio Supreme Court ruled our method of school funding unconstitutional years ago. The Senate has ignored the issue of school funding. My opponent has spent no effort addressing the school funding issue while in office
It is time to shift the total burden of funding the State’s public education system from the shoulders of property owners. Fair and adequate funding of all Ohio Schools is urgently needed, now.
The State needs to look at other options on how to fund the education of our children. A combination of property taxes, sales taxes and / or income taxes may be required to provide a world-class education to all Ohio’s children. We all need to make sure that our children are provided with modern school buildings, state of the art computers, access to art and music programs, and to hire the best teachers.
Each local school district should still have the ability to ask the voters for additional funds to provide other non-educational items, such as sports equipment and extra curricular activities. The method that these funds are raised should mirror the State’s system and not
place the total burden of the local school district additional funding on the shoulders of property owners exclusively.