I want to thank all of you for your support over the years as a county council member and county commissioner. The experience I have gained and my active involvement with a wide range of local and state issues will prove invaluable if you choose to elect me as your next State Senator for Bloomington and Monroe County. Please look over my site and policy statements and, as always, feel free to contact me with any questions.
Q1. What are your qualifications for the office you are seeking?
A1. Four years as Monroe County Commissioner and current president, eight years on the County Council. Proven voting record pursuing progressive initiatives and getting results — ElectMarkStoops.com
Q2. Do you support Indiana’s participation in the federal Affordable Health Care Act?
A2. Absolutely yes. Currently Indiana only provides coverage for people up to 28% of the poverty level, which means everyone from 29% to 100% of the poverty level gets no healthcare coverage at all. This is a dismal record for our state and results in over one billion dollars in uninsured expense to taxpayers every year. Expanded Medicaid would allow us to provide quality healthcare to our citizens with incomes up to 138% of the poverty level ($32,000 for a family of four).
For residents with higher incomes the ACA provides a sliding scale reimbursement for the cost of health insurance.
Q3. How would you support public schools and higher education?
A3. Cuts of over $600,000,000 to school budgets have resulted in fewer teachers and much larger class sizes. The state is now planning on grading schools A-F, on a curve. This means 1/3 of schools will automatically fail and be subject to state sanctioned take-over by private corporations, with very little oversight. Every year more schools will be placed in the lower end of the curve. Other legislation creates a “teacher mill”, a private firm to provide inexpensive teachers for the private operators.
We must reverse this legislation, restore funding for more teachers/lower class sizes. Also, vote for Glenda Ritz, Ritz4ed.com
1. Nationally, and within Indiana, unemployment and under-employment remain at high levels, threatening the recovery of our economy and creating many stresses on our citizens. What specific measures would you initiate and/or support to encourage job creation within small businesses? (125 words or fewer)
Most of the job creation in our state in the last 20 years has come from small business start-ups and expansion. In the short term, small businesses are suffering from lack of access to financing. A targeted micro-loan program, leveraged by the Small Business Administration, should be made more accessible to Indiana small businesses. The state of Indiana had a viable program with the 21st Century Fund but funding was cut to zero by the current administration. Funding for micro-loans should be reinstated.
The state can also help by promoting workforce development and offset the expense of employee training for skilled jobs. Indiana must also work to implement a health insurance exchange system that would allow small businesses reduce the cost of employee health insurance.
2. Indiana has a growing bio-tech sector, what can the legislature do to support this industry and its manufacturing and research jobs? (125 words or fewer)
Bloomington and Monroe County have had a long and successful relationship with life science industries, and as a result we are rated one of the top areas in the country for bio-tech start-ups and expansion. The state of Indiana can create a strategy similar to our successful local focus: create opportunities for High School students and graduates to train directly on hi-tech manufacturing systems in use by today’s industries; work closely with our universities and higher education facilities to assist with successful spin-off ventures; recruit and retrain workers for the life sciences industry; improve the quality of life in Indiana communities, which, along with high quality public schools, is one of the top reasons companies choose to locate here.
3. Indiana and the Federal Government have imposed a number of changes to the public school system (K – 12). In Indiana, there is a new and evolving system for grading individual schools (A-F), and a plan to grade individual teachers based on performance measures. Please give your view of grading schools and teachers. (125 words or fewer)
From Indiana’s Republican Handbook for Privatizing Public Schools: First – Governor offers to help out local communities by funding public schools at the state level. Second – gut over half a billion dollars from school funding in just two years. Third – take away another half billion dollars in taxpayer public school dollars and hand it over to private schools in the form of vouchers, without oversight. Fourth – now that class sizes have doubled because of funding cuts, make up an arbitrary method to grade teachers and schools on student improvement, grade on a curve so that 1/3 must fail, repeat process every year. Fifth – contract with private companies to operate the so-called failing schools, and pay them more than the public school got in the first place.
4. Assuming net revenue received by the State of Indiana will slowly increase over the next several years, please choose 3 among the areas listed below as your highest priorities to receive additional funding, and explain the reasons for your choices: (150 word or fewer)
Public Education: (K – 12) and Pre K
Law and Justice
Reducing State liabilities, i.e. Unemployment tax due to Federal Gov’t/State Pension/…
Workforce Development Improvements or Programs
Support for basic services: Food/Lodgings
Attractive Business Climate
Tax rate reductions
Support for Environmental Issues
Other (please explain)
Aside from slowly rising revenues, it is important to think of increased funding for certain areas as an investment that will help reduce overall costs in the long run. For instance, an increase in funding (investment) in programs that change behaviors of offenders in the justice system will cost 1/6th the amount of incarceration and will also reduce crime and the need for expanded public safety spending.
An increase in funding for education, pre-school through higher education, will create a highly trained workforce, one of the keys to business attraction for the state, and an expanded entrepreneur base. Fewer children falling through the cracks of an underfunded education system will also result in lower social service, unemployment, and criminal justice expenses.
5. Do you support the completion of Sections 5 and 6 of I 69, and if so, how do you see it being funded? (125 words or fewer)
Unfortunately, once I-69 reaches Hwy 37 south of Bloomington, we will be forced to confront increased traffic congestion at all intersections with local roads. INDOT has not identified any funding for I-69 through Bloomington and north to Indianapolis.
Cost over-runs on the sections from Evansville to Green County, and a price tag of over S1 Billion for the difficult stretch from US 231 to Hwy 37 (the I-69 alternative of upgrading US 41 to I-70 would have cost $1 Billion in total) means that INDOT will be far over-committed at this stage of construction.
Indiana is currently $7 Billion behind on existing road maintenance and bridge repair. I would be surprised if any future governor would commit the funds necessary to finish I-69 to Indianapolis.
6. Other than adopting a budget, what do you think is the most important issue for the General Assembly in this term and what is your specific plan to address that issue, include both policy and fiscal impacts? (125 words or fewer)
Stopping the attempt to privatize our public schools is one issue. Another important issue will be to make sure we have systems in place to take full advantage of the Affordable Care Act provisions to increase Medicaid coverage and access to healthcare for low-income residents.
Currently Indiana only provides coverage for people up to 28% of the poverty level, which means everyone from 29% to 100% of the poverty level gets no healthcare coverage at all. This is a dismal record for our state and results in over one billion dollars in uninsured expense to taxpayers every year. Expanded Medicaid would allow us to provide quality healthcare to our citizens with incomes up to 138% of the poverty level ($32,000 for a family of four).
President of the Monroe County Board of Commissioners, 8 years on the Monroe County Council and have served on just about every board and commission at the county level as well as serving with many community groups. Profession is Graphic Designer, but I also specialize in restoring historic buildings. Married, father of four. Attended IU and UCLA. My family, on both sides, has lived in Indiana since before it was a state, and in Bloomington and Monroe County for 100 years.
Q1. Assuming you are elected on Nov 6, what are your legislative priorities for the next session of the Indiana General Assembly?
A1. In the upcoming session, three key issues I will be focusing on are: (1) reversing the attempt to privatize our public schools, (2) working to make sure we get the maximum benefit from expanded Medicaid and a high quality choice for Hoosiers and Indiana businesses for insurance exchanges, and (3) job attraction and expansion by reducing outsourcing by the state government and focusing on small businesses, workforce development and retraining.
With regard to education, the state government has been hell bent on privatizing one of our great American institutions – our public schools. The Republicans in the State House have forced through legislation that will effectively turn our taxpayer funded schools and buildings over to private, for-profit corporations. We must get back to the basics of a sound public education system and restore funding for our schools, hire more teachers to reduce class size, and focus on reading, writing, math, and science.
Healthcare will be a hot topic in the next session with deadlines approaching for participation in Affordable Care Act initiatives. Republican legislators have been making noises about not participating in the program. I think that would be not just a moral travesty, but also a huge financial mistake. Currently Indiana only provides Medicaid coverage for people up to 28% of the poverty level, which means everyone from 29% to 100% of the poverty level gets no healthcare coverage at all. Many of these folks are seniors and children with disabilities. This is a dismal record for our state and results in over one billion dollars in uninsured expense to taxpayers every year. Expanded Medicaid would allow us to provide quality healthcare to our citizens with incomes up to 138% of the poverty level ($32,000 for a family of four).
Also, taking part in the Health Insurance Exchange program will allow Hoosiers to have access to high quality, affordable medical and preventive care. Health care expenses cause most bankruptcies in Indiana. No Hoosier should have to lose everything just because of medical bills. Exchanges also will result in lower overall employee health insurance costs for small businesses.
Q2. What actions should the Legislature take to support job creation in Indiana?
A2. First, we have to understand that reducing the corporate tax rate, Union-busting Right-to-Work laws, and gutting our public and higher education systems will hurt, rather than help, job creation in the state. If anything, the states with the lowest corporate tax and Right-to-Work laws have the worst record for job creation and the lowest wage rates.
To get Indiana back on track we must focus on providing what businesses have always told us are important to them when they are looking for a place to locate. They want an educated, highly trained workforce. They want good schools for their employees, and they want to locate in an area that has a high quality of life. That means cultural amenities, green space, and a clean environment.
In the short term we need to return our focus to helping small business start-ups and expansion. That will require an effective micro-loan system to inject some much-needed capital to offset the tight lending market. All job growth in the last 20 years has come from small business expansion and we must acknowledge that fact in our priorities for state funding.
The state must avoid outsourcing our jobs. This might seem like it saves us money, but outsourcing essentially leaks money from our state economy. Also, we must fight to keep our jobs from being sent overseas, and I will make sure Indiana businesses get first crack at state contracts.
Q3. Why are you a better choice than your opponent for this seat in the legislature?
A3. For one thing, as a County Commissioner, and after 8 years on the County Council, I have a great deal of experience with how local government functions, how operations are funded, and the hundreds of different ways local government works and how it doesn’t work. Unfortunately, only about a third of state legislators have any local government experience at all, and only a fraction of those held any executive policy positions, like Commissioner or Mayor. That inexperience at the state level results in many decisions being made that have negative effects or are counterproductive on the local level.
In the years I have been involved in county government, our county has done well. Even though we are the 11th largest county in the state, our tax rate is rated 70th out of 92 counties – one of the lowest in the state. We are nationally recognized as a leader in business attraction and expansion, workforce development and retraining. We have good school systems with strong local support, and we make sure to keep this a beautiful and clean place to live.
I would also be a better choice because I believe I would be a better representative of our diverse community. My opponent appears to be more of the same Tea Party Republican mentality. He talks about jobs and cutting taxes, but it seems to me, once these guys get in, it becomes all about implementing some far right national agenda —outrageous and unconstitutional attacks on working people, women and women’s reproductive rights, teachers, same-sex couples, minorities, and the poor. We’ve had two years of Republican majorities in the State House with no jobs bill but all kinds of time spent on these personal issues. We need to bring some common sense and respect for civil liberties back to our state legislature.
Watch Mark Stoops anounce his candidacy