Bennett, Foltz tackle issues of the day in 32nd District

32nd Representative District

In the leadup to Nov. 8’s election, the Delaware State News will be running questionnaires from various candidates. If you’ve missed any, visit https://delawarestatenews.net/ and click on the “vote 2016” tab.
Th3 32nd Representative District is in the Dover area.

Andria Bennett, Democrat

Age: 45

Occupation: Full-time legislator, part-time adjunct instructor at Delaware Technical Community College

vote-logo-2016Family: Brad Bennett, husband

Elective experience: District representative since 2012

Patricia McDaniel Foltz, Republican

Age: 61

Occupation: Retired educator

Family: Three children, Katelyn, Caroline and Alec

Elective experience: 32nd RD chair, Kent Region vice chair, DSEA building representative, DSEA political action chair

1. What would be your top priority in this office?

Andria Bennett

Andria Bennett

Bennett: My top priority is ensuring that our legislature acts in a transparent, fiscally responsible manner. I acknowledge that there’s a lot of work to be done regarding government spending. Our state annually faces a severe budget deficit. This year, it’s time to do something about it. As a member of the Sunset Committee, I am an advocate for governmental accountability and responsible spending of taxpayer dollars. Delawareans are tired of essential programs getting cut, or being the victim of wasteful, inefficient governing. I want to ensure that taxpayers are getting the most bang for their buck. Instead of cutting funding for critical education initiatives or infrastructure projects, for example, we should strive to eliminate waste and develop innovative strategies to make those tax dollars go further. This involves investing in new technology, building coalitions among the departments, and getting creative when it comes to increasing revenue.

Foltz: I believe that ensuring that the citizens of the 32nd are honestly represented should be my top priority.

2. If you could change one state policy or law, what would it be?

Bennett: Did not answer.

Patricia Foltz

Patricia Foltz

Foltz: High stakes testing has been extremely costly, has disrupted the classroom environment and created anxiety for students, parents and teachers.

3. Do you support raising the minimum wage?

Bennett: People working full-time should not be living below the poverty line. It is to our benefit to have these people financially stable to reduce the overall cost to the taxpayers.

Foltz: I do not support raising the minimum wage because small businesses will be limited in the number of people they can employ. It would actually create fewer jobs in the long run.

4. How can the state best create jobs?

Bennett: My answer to this question varies regionally. Here in Kent County, one of the most critical things we need to do is support small businesses by offering incentives to local entrepreneurs. Across the board, we need to expand access to higher education and skill training programs so that all Delawareans have the qualifications needed to participate in the workforce.  Eliminating unnecessary burdens to businesses will help foster positive job growth.  Investing in infrastructure will help create jobs.

Foltz: Delaware needs to create a level playing field and a climate that is friendly to all levels of businesses, as well as remove restrictions that prevent small businesses from expanding.

5. Would you vote for legislation reinstating the death penalty?

Bennett: Before taking a position, I would prefer to review any filed legislation and listen to constituents of the 32nd District. It isn’t my current policy to take a position on legislation that doesn’t exist.

Foltz: As a Christian I have struggled with this policy. While I may not personally agree with it, I feel it should be available to the judiciary in extreme cases.

6. Should the state make changes to its laws on marijuana?

Bennett: If Delaware legalizes marijuana, it can be taxed and regulated. From a fiscal perspective, it is also important to remember that a large portion of our incarcerated population eats up taxpayer money while being jailed for nonviolent drug offenses.

Foltz: I would support legislation that deals with medical marijuana research.

7. Should the state lower the tax rates on the casinos, do nothing or take some other step to provide relief?

Bennett: Dover Downs is one of the top employers in the city. Not only does it bring in revenue itself, but it promotes tourism to the area and provides jobs in our community. Alternatives should be considered to alleviate the annual financial aid given to casinos by the General Assembly.

Foltz: The casinos are a large employer in Delaware and we should do what we can to help them find success, thus creating more jobs.

8. What changes would you make to the Department of Education?

Bennett: As a member of the Joint Sunset Committee, I strongly advocated for the review the State Board of Education. If re-elected and reappointed as a member of the committee, I look forward to participating in a comprehensive evaluation of the board’s efficiency and effectiveness.

Foltz: I would look at streamlining costs there and getting a higher percentage of the state education budget into the classroom.

9. Does the state spend too much, too little or the right amount?

Bennett: The amount of money we spend each year is not the most pressing question. We need to re-evaluate the ratio of expenditures to revenue. Year after year, the General Assembly scrambles to balance the budget, based on revenue projection. In this previous General Assembly (two years), I was unable to support the budget bills that came before the House of Representatives because I felt they did too little to address the looming budget crisis that our state has been facing. We need to develop more sustainable solutions to fund our schools, roads, subsidized housing, and medical assistance.

Foltz: Yes. The state spends too much on state testing, too little on infrastructure and the right amount on tourism.

10. What should be done, if anything, to increase revenue for the state or cut spending?

Bennett: From a fiscal perspective, if taxed and regulated marijuana could increase revenue. Of course we also need to continue to foster healthy economic conditions to bring jobs back to Delaware. In the Sunset Committee, we are constantly looking to reduce or eliminate inefficiencies or redundancies amongst state agencies.

Foltz: Rather than more revenue, we need to cut spending. The citizens of Delaware in my district are paying enough.

11. Do changes need to be made in the state’s employee health care structure?

Bennett: The state employee health insurance program is very costly to the state. Figures from earlier this year say that the plan covers over 120,000 individuals, paying for anywhere between 86 percent and 96 percent of premiums. While we should ensure that our employees are provided with the highest quality healthcare services, we need to implement some cost-control measures to reduce waste.

Foltz: Employee health care costs are skyrocketing. This increase must be addressed by bringing costs down, not decreasing benefits. If we bring costs down through such things as competition, it would not only help state employees but also the private sector.

12. What should be done to impact the state’s heroin crisis?

Bennett: We must shift away from viewing addiction strictly as a criminal offense, but rather a public health crisis. While we must be sure to expand access to treatment and rehabilitation resources, it is also critical to focus on prevention.

Foltz: This is not only a state problem but a national problem. We need to stop addiction before it starts by strengthening the family unit, providing drug education in school and addressing the opiate drug abuse problem.

13. How can the state best continue to fund road and bridge projects?

Bennett: In this past General Assembly, we passed legislation that invested 300 million in infrastructure improvements into our community and statewide creating jobs and making our roads safer. The benefits of infrastructure projects are two-fold; safer roads and increased employment opportunities. We should also continue to support the idea of public-private partnerships to maintain our infrastructure.

Foltz: We need to address the misuse of the transportation fund and return those dollars to the general fund.

14. Anything else?

Bennett: No.

Foltz: During this campaign, it has been a privilege to meet and speak to my neighbors in the 32nd District. I have concerns for the growing senior citizen population and the lack of services provided by the state for this segment of our community.

Editor’s note: Due to an error, the article originally said Rep. Bennett did not answer the fourth question.

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