Click on the topics below to read about Toni Radler's position on critical issues.
MAKE STATE EDUCATION FUNDING FOR OUR DISTRICT FAIR AND EQUITABLE! Inequity in state education funding puts the more rural counties such as Hanover, Caroline and Spotsylvania at a disadvantage. In our District, we stand to lose millions of dollars in state funding because the school funding formula penalizes counties with low pupil growth.
Our students deserve no less an education than students in any part of the state. I will work to end rural school disparity.
MAKE COLLEGE AFFORDABLE AGAIN! Twenty years ago, the Commonwealth was supporting our state colleges by about 30 percent. Now it's about half that. Virginia ranks 35th among the states in support of higher education and state support continues to drop. Our colleges and universities have become more efficient, but now there is not much more they can do other than lower standards or raise tuition. Tuition increases puts higher education out of reach for many students, and all of us suffer.
As Virginia competes for companies to bring jobs and investment to the Commonwealth, an educated and skilled workforce is key. I will work to increase state funding for college, making it affordable for Virginia students and parents once again.
STOP TEACHING TO THE TEST; START TEACHING FOR THE FUTURE: Our public schools, colleges and universities should graduate students not just with a degree but with a skillset that prepares them for the job market. Right now, our schools seem to be teaching to the test, but do they teach to the future? I would support legislation aimed at making this educational shift in our schools and colleges.
We all need health insurance! At least 7,000 working adults in the 55th District have no access to health insurance because they work minimum wage jobs with no health benefits. Expanding Medicaid at the state level is part of the plan to cover all Americans, and would have covered 70% of these working adults, but our legislature voted against Medicaid expansion.
These 7,000 people in our District are among 400,000 Virginians who are stuck in what is referred to the Medicaid Gap—they don’t make enough money to qualify for the Affordable Care Act subsidies and they currently do not qualify for Virginia’s Medicaid coverage which is limited to the severely mentally or physically disabled, the blind, pregnant women, and seniors over 65.
My opponent counts as one of his ‘accomplishments’ that he voted against Medicaid Expansion; he was part of the effort to block his constituents from getting Medicaid coverage. That’s just not right.
And by the way, Virginia is losing $2 billion in federal funding each year we don’t expand Medicaid. That’s our hard earned taxpayer dollars going to other states every year to fund their Medicaid expansion, $4.2 million every day. This is not good fiscal management. It is not good stewardship of our money. We need to keep those dollars here to help our own citizens. Some of the most conservative governors (including governors in Arizona and Florida) have expanded Medicaid, but our Governor has been blocked from doing that by legislators like my opponent. I will do the right thing in the legislature, and will vote to expand Medicaid coverage for working Virginians.
Protect Our Well Water from industrial sludge. Ban it, don’t monitor it! The application of industrial sludge from mega companies with corporate lobbyists like Synagro poses a huge threat to our wells, and to clean and safe drinking water. Application of industrial sludge on our fields is a victory for corporate lobbyists seeking cheap disposal of industrial waste for their clients. It is a defeat for nearby homeowners and communities. The contents of industrial sludge are often unknown and may include dangerous heavy metals. The hazards it poses are real.
We already have groundwater issues in Virginia. My family relied on well water for more than 30 years, and so I know that our ground water is a precious resource that we must not take chances on.
Instead of leading the charge against industrial sludge on our fields in rural Hanover, Spotsylvania and Caroline, my opponent voted for a bill to “monitor” its application. That’s like closing the barn door after the horse is out, and “monitoring” how far and how fast he travels. I will fight application of industrial sludge. And by the way, this is not a hypothetical threat. Hanover County has already fought off one proposal to dump industrial sludge. And at present, there are plans to apply 6,452 acres of sludge on 13 sites in Spotsylvania County.
Protect Our Coastline and Beaches! We have seen the devastation from major oil spills resulting from offshore drilling in other states—spills such as the horrific BP Horizon disaster. But in addition to the major oil spills, there have been more than a dozen oil spills/leaks of more than 1,000 barrels in the last 10 years from offshore drilling. We don’t hear about those.
From the Virginia Beach Restaurant Association to environmental groups, opposition to offshore drilling is loud and clear. But not so much from Virginia politicians. I will be a legislator who remains committed to protecting our tourism industry, fishing and recreation industry, and our coastline and Eastern Shore. Instead of offshore oil drilling, I would support legislation for offshore wind power…safe, clean, and effective. Let's not become the next BP Oil Spill, the next Louisiana Gulf Coast disaster. We want our grandchildren to have the benefits of the beauty of Virginia Beach and the Eastern Shore, just as we have had.
Make high speed internet and mobile phone connectivity available in the rural areas of the 55th District. It has become a crucial modern day utility! Some states have invested in making the internet available in rural areas. That and reliable mobile phone service are an investment in our students who need to use the internet for school. And it’s an investment in growing small (and large) businesses in rural communities.
Our students will not be prepared to face the job market challenges of the 21st century if they don’t interact with the internet daily. And no business, small or large, will invest in an area that isn’t served by high speed internet. It affects every aspect of rural life in the 21st century, including property values. Investment in infrastructure is an investment in the future. I will make high speed internet a priority for the 55th District.
We deserve real ethics reform! It’s apparent that my opponent had no clear vision or concept of ethics reform. His stands changed each session of the General Assembly. In 2014, in a newspaper ad, he checked off ethics reform as a done deal; that was when the cap was set at $250 with no limit on how many times a legislator could take a $250 gift form the same source. And that was when Bill Bolling said legislators were just paying lip service to the issue of ethics reform. That was a kind way of putting it. Next my opponent voted for a $100 cap, but again, permitting as many $100 gifts from the same source…like a one a day vitamin pill. I was relieved to see the General Assembly finally adopt Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s amendment to Ethics Reform that puts an aggregate or combined yearly cap on gifts from lobbyists at $100 each. The next hurdle in ethics reform is to create an enforcement mechanism. I will work to establish a review commission so that ethics reform has some teeth. Otherwise, it’s as if we put up a stop sign, but have no cop to enforce it.
Make Sure Local Boards Don’t Profit From Their Votes! We need broad ethics reform to cover local boards and commissions, as well. Virginia’s conflict of interest laws are among the weakest in the nation. Specifically, supervisors and planning commission members should not be allowed to vote on issues their families or business partners may profit from. A case in point: supervisors voting to eliminate pre-existing proffers or developers’ fees on zoned tracts of land. I will work to strengthen our weak conflict of interest laws and protect taxpayers from politicians who use their public office for personal gain. If we don’t do this, taxpayers will pay the bill for the politicians who make a profit for themselves but hurt the local treasury in doing so.