Candidate Survey - 2013

THIS QUESTIONAIRE REQUESTS YOUR POSITIONS ON SALT’S TOP LEGISLATIVE ISSUES FOR 2013-14. Your responses will be shared with our members and others via mailings and our website ( ) 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 10th by e-mail at 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: Kaye Kory

District: 38th

1.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.

ANSWER: I agree that Virginia should take serious steps to protect and strengthen families. Indexing TANF benefits is necessary to support needy families now. If elected, I will introduce this legislation in the 2014 General Assembly session; in fact I am now working on the draft.

2. Tax & Budget: 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?

ANSWER: Since VA income tax filings piggyback on the federal tax filings, we should work with our Congressman and Senators while we try to make changes in VA tax law.  In order to get closer to 'All Should Pay Their Fair Share', we must eliminate tax credits that favor the wealthy while taking funds away from core services.
3. 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 charges should be “just and reasonable”. A small reform, perhaps, but lower rates might help prisoners go straight. What will you do to reform the justice system so communities are safer, victims are respected, and offenders are transformed?

ANSWER: We definitely need inmate telephone charge reform immediately. This is a relatively simple change that will make a significant difference for our prison population. We also must emphasize marketable skill training for inmates as part of an overall effort to ease their re-entry.  We shouldn't neglect re-examining our legal definitions of 'violent crime' while we are pushing hard for restoration of voting rights for felons. It is vital that our legal definitions of crimes committed that exclude a felon from automatic restoration of voting rights do not prevent rights restoration for the majority of those we are working to re-enfranchise.

4. 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. Would you support to give children in deepest poverty an even start?

ANSWER: We must fund an Operation Backpack program for TANF families and ensure that this allowance program extends to students as young as preschoolers.

5. 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-offenders for food stamps to TANF benefits as well? Please explain

ANSWER: I do strongly support extending of ex-offenders' eligibilty for food stamps to include TANF benefits eligibility as well.

6. Refundable Virginia State Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): The EITC higher income is pro-work, pro-business because it results in greater productivity and job satisfaction and less worker turnover. It is pro-family as well. SALT supports a Virginia Refundable EITC to enable hard working families to escape poverty. Approximately 570,000 Virginians live below the poverty level. No one working 40 hours a week should be poor. Do you support a refundable State earned income tax credit (EITC) based on 20% of the federal EITC for Virginia low income workers and their families? Yes/No. Please explain

ANSWER: Yes, I support a refundable State Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) based upon 20% of the federal EITC for Virginia low-income workers and their families. Upward mobility is a core American value--we must be mindful that there are currently fewer and fewer opportunities for low-income families to escape poverty and build a better future for their children.

7. Transportation: The problem SALT sees with the taxes being put in place for funding our transportation needs is that they are regressive, causing low-income Virginians to pay a greater share of their income towards funding transportation. We find it bizarre to burden those with minimum resources for the purpose of making investments in Virginia’s roads. To mitigate the harm, there needs to be steps taken to assuage the pain. SALT recommends a refundable earned income credit or a targeted rebate program. Do you agree with and would you support that approach?

ANSWER: I support a refundable Earned Income Tax Credit or a targeted rebate to lessen the burden of the newly-raised state sales tax. Using sales taxes for transportation infrastructure improvements is a regressive policy that should be ameliorated.

8. Housing Trust Fund: Virginia has been identified as the 9th least affordable state in the nation according to the "2013 Out of Reach" report released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition. This standing is based on actual wages and rents in the Commonwealth. Last year, the General Assembly codified a state housing trust fund, joining 45 other states with similar funds, providing one time funding of $8M from the National Mortgage Settlement funds. Given the housing cost burdens faced by a substantial number of households throughout the state, would you support an ongoing source of revenue for the state housing trust fund? This fund would be used to address the significant shortage of safe, decent affordable rental and homeownership opportunities for thousands of low and moderate income families throughout the Commonwealth."

ANSWER: I support an ongoing revenue source for the state housing trust fund. The fund should be directed towards reducing the backlog of affordable housing for low-income families.

9. Medicaid Expansion Health Insurance: Expansion for 400,000 low income, uninsured Virginians with federal funding to pay for 100% of the cost for the first 3 years. Expanding Medicaid for a healthy Virginia is the right choice. Do you agree? Explain.

ANSWER: Expanding Medicaid health insurance coverage is the right choice for Virginia.  400,000 uninsured Virginians could receive health insurance coverage which would be entirely funded by the federal government in the first three years.  It is ridiculous to throw away this opportunity and lose these funds to other states.

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

Unfortunately, this questionnaire does not include any questions about education, which to me is a major issue that everyone should feel strongly about. Re-investment in all levels of public education is fundamental to the future of our Commonwealth.

State funding for public education has decreased sharply over the past four years.  Developing a viable workforce is our path to a prosperous future.  Three years ago Virginia was declared the state in which  child had the greatest opportunity to become well-educated and successful in the job market.  We have lost that distinction because we have woefully under-funded education and failed to keep teachers' salaries at a nationally competitive level.  We have diverted state scholarship monies to private schools and refused to develop alternative sources of financial assistance for students living in poverty who aspire to higher education.
Virginia can do better.  We owe it to our children.

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions!