MOUNT VERNON — Two candidates are on the ballot in the Republican primary race for state representative of the 90th District, with Patrick Quinn challenging incumbent Margaret Ann Ruhl.
One of the challenges facing Ohio right now is the business climate and the high unemployment rate. Both candidates agree the state needs to retain current businesses and attract new ones, but they differ on how to do it.
Ruhl said she is in favor of a tax credit if an employer hires workers.
“A tax credit benefits in two ways,” she said. “One, it gets people off unemployment, and two, it helps businesses to get back up to their staffing levels.”
Quinn, who owns several small businesses, said he is an advocate of less government.
“People need to understand they need to take responsibility for themselves,” he said. “ ... When you first go into a drug or alcohol rehab program, the first thing they say is, ‘We can’t do anything for you, you have to do it for yourself.’ If that [philosophy] is good enough for them, why isn’t it good enough to solve other problems? We need to get the government out of the way to create that type of environment. Start eliminating things; get rid of this law, get rid of that intrusive regulation.
“Government is so big it doesn’t know what it’s into,” he continued. “Ninety-eight percent of what the government is into, they have no business being there. I want to live in a country free to build or wreck my company; I don’t need the government telling me I have to pay my employees this amount or have this type of insurance. That’s why we’ve lost jobs in Ohio, why people are reluctant to come to Ohio.”
Ruhl said the Ohio Legislature is working to attract wind turbine companies, and is drafting legislation to help these companies with tax breaks. One type of tax break, which Ruhl favors, is a tax abatement.
“Wind power is big in Hancock County, and there are some leases in Morrow County,” she said. “But the leases are not any good if you don’t get the companies to come in and set them up. Wind turbine companies are looking at surrounding states; we need to try harder to get them here.”
Quinn does not agree with luring companies through abatements.
“If [a municipality] can give them a tax abatement, why don’t we just cut the taxes?” he asked. “If [the municipality] can live without the money for a particular period of time, why can’t they do without it forever?”
An abatement, he said, is good for none, or good for all.
“Proctor & Gamble comes to Ohio, and gets a tax abatement, but they don’t give me a tax abatement,” said Quinn. “They’re kind of making sure I won’t be around because I am not getting the same tax abatement as a small-business owner. Abatements are just a loophole for the government to maintain control.”
Another area in which the candidates disagree is on Issue 2, a constitutional amendment passed in November which created the Livestock Care Standards Board.
Ruhl, who describes herself as an advocate of small business and pro agriculture, favored the issue.
“With passage of Issue 2, we are trying to protect farmers,” she said. “The livestock care board has been one of my passions. It’s a good thing, and it’s going to protect good farmers. This board will show we do take care of our animals and we don’t need more laws; we just need to enhance what we are already doing.”
Quinn opposed the issue.
“It could not guarantee it would not affect small farmers, and it has,” he said. “It could not guarantee it would stop the Humane Society of the United States from coming in the state ... now HSUS is working on getting a constitutional amendment. So it did not do anything except spend $500,000-plus of our money.”
Referring to the problems at Ohio Fresh Eggs in Croton, he said, “They handled that without Issue 2, didn’t they?”
Ruhl and Quinn agree in a few areas, one of which is the personal income tax. Both would like to eliminate or at least greatly reduce the tax.
“If we put more money in your pocket by eliminating the state income tax, people will go out and spend it,” said Ruhl. “Give the power to the people.”
“The idea is to give control back to the people,” said Quinn. “They know best.”
But, he said, “The income tax should be equal, not punishing to those who make more money. It should be 8 percent for everyone, or 15 percent for everyone.
“Make the tax code simpler,” he continued. “Make it just a straight 10 percent. No deductions, no credits; everybody knows they will be paying 10 percent.”
Both agree that at this point, the state sales tax should be left alone.
“That’s a tax I think you really can’t get rid of,” said Quinn.
“I think at this point I would put the sales tax on hold,” said Ruhl. “There are so many people depending on it. Our local government funds come from it, and libraries get some of the money.”
Regarding school funding and the property tax, Ruhl said it is a problem not easily handled, that it is a little like robbing Peter to pay Paul.
“You don’t have very many options to fund schools,” she said. “We could switch from a property tax to an income tax, where everybody would pay, and we considered funding schools by using a percentage of the sales tax. But the property tax is the most level flow of money. If we don’t have employment, the income tax goes down. The sales tax is based on the economy also. It’s got to be a mix of those ideas.
“But we do have to stop doing unfunded mandates on our schools, or any public government,” she added. “If we require things, we have to fund them.”
Quinn declined to comment on school funding, but did, however, briefly comment on the personal property tax.
“One of the things I want to do as an elected person is eliminate the property tax,” he said. “I could get rid of 70 to 80 percent of your property tax right off the bat.”
On health care, Ruhl said, “We need to work with health care people and see why our costs are rising, not necessarily reform it as in the federal government forcing people to take certain paths, or forcing certain policies on people. We need more of a cafeteria-style health care plan. Again, we’re trying to put more power back to the people — try and let them decide what kind of coverage they need.”
On the issue of the state budget, Ruhl advocates cutting state departments from 24 to 11. That, she said, would save $2 billion.
“We want smaller government, and we want it back to the people,” she said.
Of the job losses that would be created by the downsizing, Ruhl said some employees would go out through retirement, thus eliminating the higher-paid positions. But, she said, that doesn’t mean there won’t be lower paying jobs available.
“We have to change a lot of attitudes,” she said.
Quinn said he is a fan of small government and less taxes.
“The way government controls is through taxes,” he said. “Cutting taxes is so important. [Government] won’t have the money to spend; it restricts government.
“If you have lower taxes, that puts more money in your pocket. That means more freedom, more choices you can make because you have more money. It gives you options.”
Asked what distinguishes her from her opponent, Ruhl said, “I have a proven record that I work with the people. I have a diverse background and I can work with public entities and private individuals. I’m more versatile than my opponent.”
For his part, Quinn said, “What people want to know is, what are my core values and beliefs, and if I am going to be moved from those core values and beliefs. The answer is no.
“That is not happening,” he continued. “Too many people, I feel, and [my opponent] is included, they are able to be wavered. How you believe is how you are going to vote.
“People are tired of career politicians,” he added. “I look at this as a civic duty, which changes my whole perspective.”
Quinn said his core values include being pro life, from conception to natural death, including being against the death penalty. He said God comes first, his family second and close friends third.