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Q&A: Joe Reed, Candidate for Georgia House District 129

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The need for broadband connectivity is at the forefront of needs across the state especially since the onset of the pandemic. Jones County is no different with large areas having inadequate and even no internet service. What is your plan to utilize state and other resources to help?

I definitely have heard from many Jones County citizens as to the need for internet service. I need to assess what is successful in other areas and get input from industry leaders. I believe an effort similar to rural electrification a century ago would be a fair and efficient way to provide this newly essential resource for all of our families.

The Hope Scholarship has helped thousands of Georgia students attend college since its creation in 1993, but it has undergone changes and challenges over the years. Are you a supporter of the scholarship, and, if so, what will you do to ensure that it is there for students for years to come.

As a teacher for forty years I definitely support this scholarship. I am concerned, though, that colleges in Georgia, and across the nation, seem to be in a race to provide the most luxurious settings possible for their students. We must look realistically at these expensive campus improvements so as to curb the increased costs of educating our students and preserving the value of HOPE dollars.

Taxpayers subsidize this construction race with taxes, and students, through their share of rising tuitions and fees. Ironically, students who lose the HOPE grant or those who never qualify in the first place, end up being priced out of a college education due to escalating costs that have far outpaced inflation.

I want students to have a clear understanding of the costs and benefits of a college education. I want there to be incentives for finishing a degree program on-time and debt-free.

What will you do to raise teacher salaries and strengthen teacher preparation?

Our state needs to recognize that the education of our children is our number one priority. We need the best available teachers performing this task. We cannot reduce taxes and at the same time expect to provide the salaries that will attract and retain our best teachers. We need to provide financial incentives to encourage qualified teachers to come to our state, to serve in hard-to-fill positions and in challenging settings. We need to make sure that additional degrees earned by teachers will actually be applied in a way that benefits children and not just to increase salaries and teacher retirement benefits.

What are your thoughts about home rule for cities and counties, particularly considering the different needs of rural counties versus more densely populated cities during the pandemic?

I support home rule for all Georgia cities and counties. Just as the U.S. Constitution in the 10th amendment provides that powers not otherwise specified are reserved for the States and/or the people, the same should be in effect with regards to our Georgia Constitution and our local communities and citizens.

What are your thoughts on evaluating school performance and state accountability (CCRPI)? Specifically, what are your thoughts about assessment/testing in our public schools?

What we measure gets our attention. I support testing students so that they can see what they have learned and what their focus should be. I would like to see the administration of an achievement test administered in early September and again in May so that we can see the educational growth of students over a school year. As it stands now, our annual assessment is not as useful as it could be and not prescriptive. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of a student in early September will allow parents and teachers to work cooperatively. While at the same time, students can be held more accountable for their own learning. Any standardized tests can be useful in measuring the progress of a school. They should only be used in that regard if socioeconomic factors are also carefully considered as essential pieces in the education of children and the success of schools.

What is your opinion of the value an education in the arts (dance, drama/theatre, music, visual arts) provides students?

A well-rounded education is essential for the fullest development of every child. The arts, vocational education and a robust physical education program all contribute great memories and opportunities and add to the overall well-being of our students.

Online purchases are at an all time high. Should the taxes on those sales be based on the address of the store or the purchaser? Why?

I don’t know that this is an either/or question. Where the store is located deserves some of the tax revenue because they provide services to that location. Where the purchaser is located also deserves revenue so that they can maintain and enhance their services in order to attract more businesses to viable communities. Some division of revenue would be equitable.

Healthcare is a huge talking point in elections across the nation, but it is literally a life and death issue in rural counties. What is your plan to improve the availability of healthcare for constituents in the rural counties you serve?

I want taxes on cigarettes, vape products and alcoholic beverages to be increased so that they more proportionately contribute to the costs of treating the harmful impacts of those products. I want healthcare pricing to be clear and transparent and the same, whether you have insurance or want to pay cash. I also believe that insurance policies must provide coverage for pre-existing conditions.