Posts Tagged 'State Rep. Debbie Phillips'

Rep. Phillips Statement on IG’s Finding of Wronging Doing by Superintendent Stan Heffner

State Rep. Debbie Phillips released the following statement on the Inspector General’s investigative report and finding of wrong doing by Ohio Department of Education Superintendent Stan Heffner. Mr. Heffner testified last year before the Senate Finance Committee in favor of legislation that would and did financially benefit Education Testing Services (ETS), whom he had accepted a job with while he was serving as interim-Superintendent. Rep. Phillips requested an investigation by Inspector General Meyer into conflicts of interest and today the findings were released. 

“I first want to thank Inspector General Meyer for his thorough investigation and report. Conflicts of interest and misuse of state resources are serious matters and today’s findings have shown there are serious issues within the Ohio Department of Education that warrant further scrutiny.  Public officials have a responsibility to safeguard public funds and represent the best interests of Ohioans, and that is why conflict of interest laws are so important.

“The findings of this investigation, coupled with a separate pending matter before the Ohio Ethics Commission on the reimbursement of Mr. Heffner and staff for trips, are deeply troubling. At a time when local schools are facing significant cuts in state resources and many are seeking local levies to provide opportunities for our children, we need to ensure that all state funds are being spent wisely and appropriately and we must keep clear oversight of all decision making surrounding the limited resources available.”

A copy of Inspector General Meyer’s report can be seen at http://watchdog.ohio.gov/Portals/0/pdf/investigations/2011_139.pdf.

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State Reps. Phillips & Stinziano to Introduce Resolution Urging Passage of Student Loan Resolution

State Reps. Debbie Phillips and Michael Stinziano will introduce a resolution urging Congress to act immediately and pass S. 2343. Without action federal student loan interest rates are set to double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent.

“A strong educational system is at the very foundation of economic success and prosperity for individuals, communities, and our nation. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult for  young people to attend institutes of higher education, not due to a lack of academic proficiency but rather, the increasing burden placed on students stemming from tuition hikes and debt from their student loans,” said Rep. Phillips who represents Ohio University.  “I am deeply troubled by the debate in Washington because it is not about whether we must work to keep interest rates low, but rather is bogged down by who should pay; big corporations or the middle class.”

S. 2343, co-sponsored by Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, would stop student loan interest rate hikes that will be effective July 1.  This legislation would offset an interest rate hike by closing a corporate tax loophole. Republican refusal to close tax loopholes for corporations and desire to take funding from preventative healthcare is a further demonstration of a lack of concern for Ohio’s working and middle class families.  Yesterday U.S. Senate Republicans filibustered the Democratic proposal.  If action is not taken rates will automatically rise July 1st of this year.

Rep. Michael Stinziano (D-Columbus), whose district includes parts of The Ohio State University, is also troubled by what an increase in the interest rate on student loans could mean for his constituents and students across the country.  “The key to economic growth in Ohio and across the country is an educated workforce prepared to lead the world.  Doubling interest rates will saddle our graduates with more debt inhibiting their critical participation in local communities and discouraging others from pursuing a college degree due to the rising cost of college tuition. We know that an increasing number of professions require some type of post-secondary degree, and many of our most talented students rely on these loans. A failure to act on this issue discourages students from pursuing a degree and directly threatens the economic viability of states and communities across the country.”

More than 382,000 students in Ohio have received Stafford loans, with disbursements totaling more than $1.55 billion.  According to reports, the average Ohio student graduates from a four year college or university with nearly $27,000 in debt.

“If interest on these loans continues to rise and repayment becomes difficult it will hurt our graduates and our economy.  The success of Ohio’s economy depends on well educated individuals entering the workforce and having the freedom to pursue their professional goals.  Student debt has reached nearly one trillion dollars nationwide, placing an immense weight on recent college graduates who are just starting their professional careers.   This overwhelming debt can prevent individuals from buying a new car or house, seeking a graduate degree, or even starting a family,” added Rep. Stinziano.

“Students are willing and ready to go to work, and pay their debts, but changing the rules in the middle of the game isn’t fair.  They need a fighting chance to make a strong start, and Congress must act now,” continued Rep. Phillips.

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House Democrats Outline 2012 Priorities to Strengthen Middle Class

Ohio House Democratic Leader Armond Budish and members of the House Democratic Caucus at a press conference announcing their legislative agenda for 2012. They will focus on jobs, communities, rights and opportunities to help Ohioans restore the American Dream.

Ohio House Democrats announced the beginning of their legislative agenda for 2012 to strengthen working and middle class families.  The priorities build upon the Compact with the Middle Class announced last year and focus specifically on four categories – jobs, communities, rights and opportunities.

“While Statehouse Republicans continue their overreaching partisan priorities, House Democrats are committed to common-sense solutions that put working and middle class families first,” said House Minority Leader Armond Budish (D-Beachwood).  “We will place a renewed focus this year on creating jobs, rebuilding Ohio communities, protecting the rights of Ohioans and improving education and workforce training opportunities.”

The legislative initiatives are a mix of new proposals and several bills that have already been introduced by House Democrats. The new bills include a Local Government Jobs Fund, a Community Foreclosure Protection Fund, a Voter’s Bill of Rights and the Ohioans Back to Work Program.  House Democrats will be introducing additional legislation in the coming weeks focused on putting working and middle class families first. 

“For the last year, Statehouse Republicans have been turning over state assets to private companies and giving away state tax dollars to special interest friends,” said Minority Whip Tracy Heard.  “Instead of leaving behind working families and hurting local communities, our priorities will help Ohioans restore the American Dream. 

Creating jobs continues to be a top priority for House Democrats.  The Community Jobs Protection Fund will help communities return cops and firefighters to the streets by dedicating every new dollar of state revenue back to local communities.  House Democrats have also developed the JobsOhio Accountability Act to ensure oversight and accountability of taxpayer dollars going to companies seeking state support. 

“Rather than balancing the budget on the backs of local communities and taking away workers’ rights, women’s rights and voters’ rights, our priorities will restore some balance in Ohio between Republican special interests and middle class families,” said Assistant Minority Leader Matt Szollosi (D-Oregon). 

Additionally, House Democrats have also proposed a new Ohio Voter’s Bill of Rights, improvements to help workers and new protections for healthcare patients against rate increases and claim denials. Greater protections for education funding are addressed through increased accountability measures and a new workforce training program has also been proposed.

“These priorities represent a continuation of our efforts to stand up for working and middle class families throughout Ohio,” said State Rep. Debbie Phillips. 

An outline of the House Democratic priorities is listed below.  Additional bills focused on jobs, communities, rights and opportunities will be introduced in the coming weeks.


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