Candidate Survey - 2015

THIS QUESTIONAIRE REQUESTS YOUR POSITIONS ON SALT’S TOP LEGISLATIVE ISSUES FOR 2015-16.  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 21st 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: Dave Marsden

District:     37th

1. Closing The Health Care Coverage Gap for Low Income Adults – Virginia has the opportunity to use available federal funding to offer Medicaid health insurance coverage to up to 400,000 very low-income adults. Most are working in important job sectors such as retail, tourism, and construction, but unable to get affordable health insurance from their jobs or from the federal marketplace. Federal funding (which pays for 100% of the costs through 2016 and gradually reduces to 90% in 2020) would support Virginia hospitals, create jobs, and save state dollars currently supporting many health programs. Thirty states (including West Virginia and Kentucky) and D.C. already provide this coverage. Do you support closing the coverage gap? Please explain.

Expanding Medicaid is the right thing to do. No single issue will have the direct impact on improving people’s lives and strengthening our economy that expanding Medicaid will have. We have a moral obligation to use Medicaid expansion to provide health coverage to an estimated 400,000 Virginians. In addition to providing health coverage for the working poor, studies have estimated that expanding Medicaid will create $1.9 billion in economic impact, 30,000 jobs, and businesses stand to benefit by an estimated reduction of $20.2 million in private insurance premiums. Expendable incomes will increase for those new folks on Medicaid and governments will have resources freed up to spend on other priorities. This is a true win-win-win for employees, employers, and the Commonwealth.  

2. 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.

I support indexing TANF benefits to inflation to provide support for families and to ensure that the issue doesn’t get caught up in politics. Indexing to inflation will ensure that the amount provided remains stable and will not rely on the political will of the legislature to provide proper benefits.

3. Corporate Tax Breaks: 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?

The Virginia General Assembly is currently reviewing the tax breaks and incentives that exist in the tax code for individuals and businesses. Those tax breaks and incentives overwhelmingly benefit those at the top of the income bracket and large businesses.  A review of these tax breaks and incentives will allow us to find out which ones are achieving their goal and which need to be eliminated. Once they are eliminated we can redirect those tax dollars towards higher priority investments like schools, police, and families.

4. 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 telephone charges should be “just and reasonable”. A small reform, perhaps, but lower rates might help prisoners go straight. Do you support lower phone rate to reestablish contact between offenders and their families and ultimately to reduce recidivism among ex-offenders?

I support lower phone rates so inmates can work to reestablish contact with their families. I am currently undertaking an ambitious reform of prison re-entry that will place inmates closer to their communities months before their release so that they can work on family reunification and work to find employment. This plan should lead to better outcomes for the inmate and reduce recidivism, creating a safer Commonwealth.

5. Support of Operation Backpack for TANF Families -- 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. Help Give School Supplies and Hope—a simple backpack can change lives. Would you support to give children in deepest poverty an even start?

I support Operation Backpack. Providing an opportunity for a student to attend school prepared on day one will benefit them tremendously.

6. 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-drug offenders for food stamps TANF benefits as well? Do you support extending TANF eligibility for ex-drug offenders who return to their families and take responsibilities for their families? Please explain.

By punishing offenders in this manner it just makes it harder for offenders to re-unite with their families and to find employment. I support extending TANF benefits to ex drug offenders who take responsibility for their families. We should be looking for ways to assist ex-drug offenders to re-enter society and take care of themselves and their families which will reduce their likelihood to recidivate.

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

Some of my legislative priorities include:

1. Improving and reforming our education system through reducing SOL’s and class size and increasing teacher salaries.
2. Diversifying our economy so we are less dependent on the federal government through supporting innovation, cutting bureaucracy, and supporting Governor McAuliffe’s unprecedented efforts to bring new jobs to Virginia. I have led the effort to raise the minimum wage and will continue this fight.
3. Improving and reforming our transportation system so that we continue to prioritize congestion relief, invest in mass transportation options, and improve bus service.
4. Continue to look for ways to improve our criminal justice system. I am currently leading a major effort to reform Virginia’s re-entry programs and Governor McAuliffe named me to the Commission on Parole Review.
5. Support innovation and investments in renewable energy so that we can continue to combat the effects of climate change, improve our environment, and create jobs.

Thank you for taking the time to answer these question!