State rep. candidate to make changes despite party

State representative candidate Jeff Bretz (D-North Baltimore) said last night during an interview session with the BGSU Faculty Senate Committee on Professional Affairs that if elected to the Ohio General Assembly this November, he will work to eradicate partisanship in the legislature for the sake of more affordable higher education.

“A good idea is a good idea and it shouldn’t matter who puts it forward,” Bretz told the group, composed of both faculty and students.

“I am a Democrat, but if I win this election, I will be there to work for the people. Partisanship shouldn’t matter.”

The committee requested to interview Bretz as a way to inform faculty members of his positions on higher education, committee chairman Mike Zickar said.

“We could have done this as just a questionnaire and sent that out, but it’s nice for everyone to have the opportunity to meet candidates in person,” Zickar said.

Bretz fielded questions mostly pertaining to the cost of education to students and the ever-shrinking amount of state funding available to public universities.

Bretz said the state of Ohio, which has an average tuition rate 46 percent higher than the national average, could not continue to underfund public education without severe ramifications to the economy.

“[High tuition] is keeping people from receiving higher education,” he said. “But we know better-educated citizens get better-paying jobs, which puts more money back into the tax base. It’s a domino effect.”

Bretz also said although he considered the current state of education in Ohio to be in a crisis situation, raising taxes would be “only a last resort.”

“If I had to raise taxes, I would want to do it as a progressive tax, so that those at the lower end of the pay scale would not be hit as hard,” he said. “If you hit that group too hard, it defeats the whole purpose of the tax.”

But before raising taxes, Bretz said he would look for other options to financially support Ohio schools, such as diverting funding from state prisons.

“It makes sense because studies show that a better-educated citizenry brings crime rates down,” he said. “Does that mean I think we should be letting sex offenders and criminals out onto the street? No. But we have to do something.”

Bretz said if universities like BGSU cannot offer students reasonable tuition, young people will no longer see any benefit in attending college.

“It’s pretty hard to justify as an 18- or 19-year-old spending $100,000 on an education and then only making $28,000 a year to start out,” he said. “We just have to work together to fund education better.”

Christine Myers, committee member and visiting assistant professor, said she was pleased Bretz agreed to the interview since if elected, his legislative decisions will greatly impact BGSU.

“The reason we want to know what he thinks is because as citizens we have much more access to local representatives than we might [to national representatives],” she said.

Zickar also confirmed that Bretz’s opponent Bob Latta (R) has agreed to do a similar interview, but no date has been scheduled yet.