Click on the topics below to read about Toni Radler's position on critical issues.
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 our support of higher education, and it continues to drop. Our colleges and universities have become more efficient, but there is not much more they can do other than lower standards or raise tuition. When tuition increases put higher education out of reach of students we all 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 are teaching to the test, not to the future. I will support legislation to make this educational shift in our schools and colleges.
SCHOOL FUNDING: Closing the Medicaid Gap would free up a half-billion dollars that could be spent on education, making sure that our students got the attention they deserve from teachers who are fairly compensated.
Expanding Medicaid to make sure all Virginians have health coverage is not only the right thing to do, it’s the fiscally prudent thing to do, especially following the recent Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act. Because legislators like my opponent refused to expand Medicaid, Virginia is being left behind…losing jobs, federal funding (the return of our tax dollars to us).
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 disabled, the blind, pregnant women, and seniors over 65.
My opponent counts as one of his major accomplishments his vote 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 Rural Environment from Grade B and Industrial Sludge. Ban it, don’t monitor it!The application of grade B and industrial sludge from companies 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. But it is a defeat for nearby homeowners and communities. Families who live adjacent to fields where grade B sludge has been applied say the smell is “ungodly” and they believe it triggers respiratory problems in their children, and adversely affects their property values.
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 grade B and 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 Beaches, and Our Tourism and Fishing Industries! 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 there have also 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 and the beauty of Virginia Beach and the Eastern Shore, just as we have had.
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 there was no limit on how many times a legislator could take a $250 gift from 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 to permit as many $100 gifts from the same source. I was relieved to see the General Assembly finally adopt Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s amendment to Ethics Reform that puts a combined yearly cap on gifts from each lobbyist 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! Ethics reform needs 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.