Editor’s note: This is the second part of the 12th District Senate race preview between Matt Huffman, of Lima, and John Adams, of Sidney.
Republicans John Adams, 56, and Matt Huffman, 55, are seeking a primary win for the 12th District Senate seat currently held by Sen. Keith Faber, of Celina. Faber is term-limited.
Both Adams and Huffman are former state representatives who reached their term limits for the districts they served.
Both men talk about issues that they feel are important to the state of Ohio.
Local funding needs to change
Both candidates say they want to address the impact state budget cutbacks have had on local government and school districts.
Adams said he thinks “what the state failed to do during the recovery was lead by example.” He said state spending increased 30 percent in the last three budget cycles, while the Consumer Price Index increased 10 percent.
“We asked our local government to cut their spending, but Ohio did not,” he said.
Huffman said he would like to see funding restored to local government and school districts and would like to see the funding stabilized in the future. Agencies have had to juggle budget cutbacks that differ every time there is a new governor or new legislators in the Statehouse, he said, and he wants to tie funding to a clear funding formula for local agencies and schools.
“What we truly need is a formula, a true school funding formula and local government revenue formula, based on a percentage of a particular state revenue,” he said. “If we have that, what happens is the revenue for local governments and local schools will change based on how the economy is doing. But it’s not erratic. Therefore it makes it somewhat predictable.”
Huffman added he would like to have the formula adjusted to account for students that left big districts for small ones, and districts that have a lot of funding from local levies receive less state revenue.
Heroin addiction needs addressed
Adams said he supports state efforts to reduce over-prescription of pain medication.
“Addiction to pain medications has led people to switch to heroin when their prescribed drug cannot be obtained,” he said. “Additionally, treatment programs are essential in this fight against heroin and other drug usage.”
Huffman said legislation has been put in place to crack down on “pill mills” and doctors who prescribe for profits. That approach only deals with the most serious examples of abuse and profiteering. The rest may take a change in how doctors prescribe, he said.
“The question becomes what strategically can the health profession – doctors and pharmacists – do to provide legitimate pain relief,” he said. “If we make it harder for abusers to sell the prescription drugs, they will do less of it.”
Huffman added he believes the federal government also needs to enforce its laws to keep drug traffickers from crossing the border.
“The issue is with the failure and unwillingness of the Obama administration to deal with border problems,” he said. “Immigration issues are certainly affecting jobs, but another huge issue is the flow of drugs into this country. Trying to get federal officials to enforce the law, as a state official, is important.”
Schools need more local control
Adams said local school officials need more freedom to determine what is best for students, without excessive government intervention.
“A major problem with education is that our teachers, principals and superintendents have to deal with government intrusion and regulations and changes every few years,” he said. “What teachers want and need is less paperwork and more freedom to teach and have control of their classrooms. What parents want is far less federal control of curriculum. Local control is espoused by politicians, but they have done little to change the status quo.”
Adams added he thinks accepting federal funding to adopt Common Core educational standards “erodes states’ rights.”
Huffman said he did not support the Common Core State Standards, and “the federal government should not be involved in K-12 education.” He said he also doesn’t think a one-size-fits-all approach to education is a good plan for school districts.
He said he would like to see some flexibility in required testing, exempting schools doing well from testing all the time. He said he also wants to look at testing as an appropriate measure for determining student success. Huffman said schools in well-off areas tend to have more parental involvement in children’s lives, so those students tend to do better academically.
“There’s also a population of students, for a variety of reasons unrelated to school, that will never do well on a test, or at least not at that time. That doesn’t mean the school isn’t doing well, or that the teachers or administrators aren’t doing well. We know the number one indicator of how well a student is going to do is how involved are the parents in their education. So the concept of testing as a true measure of how well schools are doing is, in my mind, questionable.”
The 12th Senate District includes Allen, Champaign, Mercer and Shelby counties and parts of Auglaize, Darke and Logan counties.
The presidential primary is March 15.
Casey S. Elliott may be reached at 937-652-1331 ext. 1772 or on Twitter @UDCElliott.