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House 18 candidates put job creation at forefront

Sep. 28, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- The two candidates running for the West Virginia House of Delegates from District 18 both say job creation is a top priority in their campaigns.

The race pits the five-term Republican incumbent Kelli Sobonya against Democratic hopeful Billy J. Chaffin II for a district that represents a portion of Cabell County from Barboursville to Salt Rock. Sobonya currently represents District 16, but she and Chaffin are running to represent the new District 18 created by legislative redistricting this year.

Here's what they had to say about the issues:

JOBS: Sobonya, a Realtor, said addressing jobs includes reducing unemployment, helping to keep young people from leaving state after college and recruiting companies to locate in West Virginia.

"Encouraging job creation will come from comprehensive reforms such as eliminating the state tax on inventory and equipment. Unlike most other states, job creators are often taxed in West Virginia before they even make a profit. Job creators also need to know they have a level playing field if they invest and create jobs in West Virginia," Sobonya said.

Chaffin, who works at Special Metals as a utility operator, said job creation can come through infrastructure improvements for the state's roads and bridges and through education.

"I also believe our education system must be improved ... and that different college-level degrees should be emphasized, especially mathematics and engineering. I also feel that more skilled trades courses should be offered at the community college level, including but not limited to machinists, pipe fitters, electricians," he said.

Spending: Chaffin, who also ran for the House in 1996, said the state budget can sustain its programs without the 7.5 percent budget cuts that Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's administration asked departments to make for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

"I believe our budget can sustain our state programs if we work hard, cut wasteful spending and reduce duplication of state agencies," he said, citing the Department of Corrections and Regional Jail Authority.

Sobonya said the state's hard economic times are due to unwise decisions being made on the federal level, citing the new health care law among them. She said the Legislature "prematurely" adopted, without her support, the WV Health Benefit Exchange Act, as part of the federal mandate. She also agrees with Chaffin that the budget cuts can be avoided.

"We must make our government more open and accountable to the people who pay the bills with their hard-earned tax dollars and limit the growth of government and out-of-control spending," Sobonya said. "Instead of 7.5 percent across-the-board cuts in agency spending, as sponsor of the Budget & Spending Transparency Act, this legislation would help identify true government waste. This bill would open West Virginia's (financial) books to the public and allow West Virginians and legislators to identify, track and cut wasteful government spending."