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: Rob Krupicka

District: 45th

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 would support and push for the indexing of TANF payments.

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: We need to close tax-loopholes, focus limited resources towards helping people get ahead in life and make sure our tax system is fair for everybody.

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 need to focus on rehabilitation versus punishment in our justice system, many of our state’s inmates are non-violent and often young offenders. Cutting them off from society is a cruel retribution, which in the long run costs our state more by increasing recidivism rates. We need to increase resources to our inmates to encourage and foster education and positive involvement within a community.

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: Yes. Public education can be one of the greatest equalizing forces to battle the alarmingly wide economic gap within our society. Giving children the necessary supplies so they can be successful at school is one of the best ways to help give them the tools necessary to lift themselves out of poverty.  We need to go further than this and also make early childhood programs and education a central part of our education system.  The earliest years are when achievement gaps form.  We can eliminate them by helping young and expectant mothers and new families give their children the best possible start in life.

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. It is wrong to permanently impair an individual’s chances to create a decent, law-abiding life for themselves and their family. Many of these ex-drug offenders were convicted in their youth and we gain nothing as a society from denying them the opportunity to grow into functional adults.

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. Until people can earn a livable paycheck on minimum wage EITC is necessary to help support hard working families who are still unable to make ends meet.

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’m willing to explore this.  Knowing that we can’t get everything passed in the current G.A., I need to balance this idea with other budget items that also help the poor like early childhood care and education.  We also need to make sure transportation funds are going to transit and other areas that will help ensure everybody has access to work.

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: Yes. But I also think we have to look at other tools to help housing. The trust fund isn’t large enough to go very far, especially in NoVa where the demand for housing is driving up prices faster than the construction industry can respond. We should be looking at ways to discourage condo conversions and/or ensure conversions provide some affordability.  We need to create tax credits to support the preservation of existing affordable housing stock. We should also be supporting tools to help local governments encourage the creation of new affordable housing.

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 agree that Medicaid expansion is necessary in Virginia. Not only is it morally the right choice to make, but expanding Medicaid will also help grow Virginia’s economy.

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

Increasing resources to treat mental health issues, specifically funding for Mental Health First Aid training is an issue I feel strongly about. 1 in 17 Americans lives with a serious mental illness. Over 50 percent of students with a mental disorder ages 14 and older drop out of high school. 70 percent of youth in juvenile justice systems have at least one mental disorder. This is an issue that impacts all of America and it needs to be addressed head on.

As I already mentioned, I believe we have to keep pushing to increase access to a range of early childhood programs from health, to parent mentoring to high quality child care and pre-k.

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions!