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: Eileen Filler-Corn

District: 41st District, House of Delegates

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, too support increasing TANF benefits. Ensuring the neediest in our communities have adequate assistance is critically important to breaking the cycle of family poverty. While the current General Assembly is unlikely to support a large increase, I would support small incremental increases each year over the next few years, while also being open to different proposals that would help alleviate this issue.

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: While we need to encourage our businesses to grow and maintain our standing as one of the best places to do business, we must also support our quality of life and continue to be one of the best states to raise a family. We must support quality of life for all citizens of Virginia, by funding our schools, paying our teachers, fully staffing our police and fire departments and keeping libraries open. I will continue to support funding for these important programs while also supporting a thorough examination of the antiquated VA Tax Code to ensure fairness and equity for all payers.

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: Just this past session I was happy to support HB 1854 which would have provided phone rate fairness for prisoners and their families. The current financial burdens that currently exist in Virginia are preventing prisoners from being able to stay in contact with their families, which reduces this important family support and increases the chance of recidivism. As a member of the Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee I supported HB 1854 during the 2013 General Assembly Session, unfortunately, this bill did not advance.

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: I would support a program that let children living in poverty to the chance to acquire the needed school supplies and clothing essential for returning to school. Having the proper supplies and confidence can exponentially increase a child’s chance at succeeding in school. With the proper education and chance, children in the deepest poverty situations can be giving the opportunity to change their environment. This starts with being properly prepared and equipped for the classroom.

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: Yes. I believe that extending the eligibility to ex-offenders will assist those who have successfully paid their debt to society as they transition back into the community. Often times, children and other innocent members of the family suffer when benefits are not available. I applaud the Governor for restoring voting rights this year to ex-offenders who have paid their debt, and I believe we can go a step further in rights restoration.

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 believe that this opportunity for hard working families can help them maintain their home and family while being able to save for their children’s future and education. This can also help put a family above the poverty line.

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 recognize that the increased sales tax rate does represent an added financial burden, particularly for those struggling on low incomes, which is why I was pleased to see additional dedicated money for passenger transit rail. This new funding will go towards the creation of additional affordable transit options that serve so many in our region. As we move forward with the new transportation language there will be ample opportunity to address concerns or glitches that are currently in place. I am open to reviewing every suggestion to improving the legislation and helping low income families.

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 was proud to support the creation of the Virginia Housing Trust Fund to help alleviate the costs associated with housing. It is my hope that we can continue to fund the housing trust fund and ensure that every Virginian has the chance to affordably live in the community they wish to work and raise their family.

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: I fully support the expansion of Medicaid in Virginia. Included among the 400,000 Virginians (and the estimated 30,000 Fairfax County residents) who will meet the increased eligible federal poverty level for Medicaid coverage will be 84,000 children. Moreover, this expansion is expected to create as many as 30,000 new jobs while saving the Commonwealth approximately $300 million between 2014 and 2018, as the federal government will fully fund the expanded Medicaid program for the first three years.

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

The issues that I hear the most about in the 41s District concern jobs and the economy, education, transportation and public safety.

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions!