Candidate Survey - 2015


THIS QUESTIONAIRE REQUESTS YOUR POSITIONS ON SALT’S TOP LEGISLATIVE ISSUES FOR 2015-16. Your responses will be shared with our members and others via mailings and our website (www.s-a-l-t.org) as a helpful guide in their choice of candidates. Your answers will not be abbreviated or taken out of context. Please return your answers by August 21st by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Thank you for your commitment to public service and for your willingness to share your opinions with SALT.

 
Candidate: Joana Garcia 

District:     42

 
1. Closing The Health Care Coverage Gap for Low Income Adults – Virginia has the opportunity to use available federal funding to offer Medicaid health insurance coverage to up to 400,000 very low-income adults. Most are working in important job sectors such as retail, tourism, and construction, but unable to get affordable health insurance from their jobs or from the federal marketplace. Federal funding (which pays for 100% of the costs through 2016 and gradually reduces to 90% in 2020) would support Virginia hospitals, create jobs, and save state dollars currently supporting many health programs. Thirty states (including West Virginia and Kentucky) and D.C. already provide this coverage. Do you support closing the coverage gap?  Please explain.

Closing the coverage gap is extremely important to Virginia residents.  Not only will it provide health insurance for 400,000 Virginians it also will relieve a large burden that is currently placed on emergency rooms.  Emergency rooms are becoming primary care providers for those who do not have health insurance and many of these visits are for illnesses that should have been treated as an acute illness but have developed into a chronic illness.


2. Inflation Indexing of TANF Benefits is a Fairness Issue: Currently, a family of three in Virginia receives a fifth of the federal poverty level and has seen only one TANF increase since 1985. At $269 a month average for a family Virginia ranks 35th in TANF payments. Indexing would prevent further erosion of recipients’ ability to meet basic needs of children in their own home or in relative care and can be funded from the federal TANF block grant. Shouldn’t Virginia take steps to alleviate poverty and to protect families. Strong families are as important to Virginia’s future as schools and roads. What steps would you support to ensure a meaningful level of time-limited assistance to Virginia’s needy families?  Please explain.

We need to bring TANF benefits to current dollar values and index it to inflation.


3. Corporate Tax Breaks: All Should Pay Their Fair Share. We know from local research across Virginia that the recent State budget cuts have cut into real, quality of life spending by local governments: libraries are closed, police have lost staff positions, teachers have lost their jobs, and class sizes increase for public school students. At the same time, too many (two-thirds) large corporations operating in our State get by with paying very little in corporate income tax due to tax breaks, subsidies, and clever work by their tax lawyers. How will you make sure that individuals and corporations at the upper end of our income scale pay their fair share so that we can avoid painful service cuts in the future?

I do believe that all should pay their fair share in taxes.  In an attempt to bring new businesses to the area, localities provide incentives to businesses by cutting down on their obligations to the area they are moving to.  This has led to a system where corporations are no longer expected to provide infrastructure improvements, etc.  It is vitally important that new business come into an area however, there is a point where the community can no longer absorb the tax burden placed on it.


4. Bring about effective change in the criminal justice system: Those who remain in contact with loved ones on the outside are less likely, studies show, to return to a life of crime after serving their time. So why does Virginia make it so hard for inmates to phone their families? SALT believes that telephone charges should be “just and reasonable”. A small reform, perhaps, but lower rates might help prisoners go straight. Do you support lower phone rate to reestablish contact between offenders and their families and ultimately to reduce recidivism among ex-offenders?

Yes, placing an unreasonable charge on a particular group simply because they have no other choice is considered fleecing and must not be done.


5. Support of Operation Backpack for TANF Families -- Support of Operation Backpack for TANF Families -- This allowance would permit children living in poverty to acquire the needed school supplies and clothing essential for returning to school & equipping children to learn. Help Give School Supplies and Hope—a simple backpack can change lives. Would you support to give children in deepest poverty an even start?

Yes, children are the most vulnerable segment of our society.  If we truly believe in changing incarceration rates, reducing drug use, etc., our communities need to be communities that prioritize education and ensure an equal education for everyone.


6. Rescind the Federal Lifetime TANF Ban for Ex-Drug Offenders: Lifting the ban eliminates for ex-offenders (whose offense was solely drug possession) the disqualification from receipt of TANF federal transitional assistance needed to care for family members, increases the chances of gainful employment of ex-offenders. To us lifting the ban is a matter of fairness, as it serves to provide basic Re-entry program services that reduce recidivism and save states money. This ban penalizes children of drug felons. Do we want to be a society that requires children to pay for the misdeed(s) of their parents? Do you support extending the eligibility of ex-drug offenders for food stamps TANF benefits as well? Do you support extending TANF eligibility for ex-drug offenders who return to their families and take responsibilities for their families? Please explain.

I agree with removing the lifetime TANF ban for ex-drug offenders.  If a person has become drug free and has taken responsibility for their family they should be eligible for TANF.


YOUR ISSUES:  What are some issues you feel strongly about that you would like to share with your SALT constituents?

A woman’s right to chose is a priority to me. I believe a woman’s right to autonomy in decision to be made by her about her is a fundamental right given to each individual as written in the Constitution.

The right to vote is also a fundamental right given to each individual by the Constitution and any efforts to limit that right is unconstitutional and should be treated as such.

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions!