As a state senator, Tom Waniewski would look for cuts in state social services, eliminate the income tax, and create "right-to-work" zones to attract union-averse employers to Ohio, he said in an interview Friday after filing for the Senate District 11 seat.
Mr. Waniewski, 53, became the first of at least three people interested in the seat held by Democratic Sen. Teresa Fedor of Toledo to file with the Lucas County Board of Elections. Ms. Fedor is prohibited by term limits from seeking re-election.
Mr. Waniewski, a Republican and Toledo city councilman from the 5th District, West Toledo, said he would oppose new taxes and would look for ways to cut state spending to avert a projected $4 billion to $8 billion deficit in the biennial budget in 2011.
"What I'm hoping to bring to the state is my philosophy. There are different ways to fund things like I have been trying to do from the city side - or not do them at all," Mr. Waniewski said.
He said he would look to cut social services spending, with the idea of letting private nonprofit or volunteer agencies, such as the United Way, perform the services. He said the departments of Youth Services and Job and Family Services are ripe for cuts.
"I would like to look at that and say what are we spending all this money on," Mr. Waniewski said. "That's money that could go to the United Way, let them do it, let them work on it. That's what they do."
He endorsed Republican gubernatorial candidate John Kasich's call to repeal the income tax, saying it could be at least partly replaced by a higher sales tax. The income tax supplies about 40 percent of the state's revenue, and Democrats have said its elimination would devastate local services, including libraries.
"I think there's some potential where that revenue could be very good. It's evenly spread among folks. It's something you choose to pay, in essence," Mr. Waniewski said. He didn't have an estimate as to how high a sales tax he would support to replace lost income-tax revenue.
Mr. Waniewski said he has been a force on council for reducing city spending and looking for nontaxpayer ways to fund services, such as finding private funding for the CareNet program for uninsured county residents and voting against the 2009 budget that he said was based on unrealistic revenue estimates.
Mr. Waniewski said he would have voted in December against rolling back the fourth year of a state tax cut as sought by Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland to replace the $851 million lost when racetrack slot machines were barred by an Ohio Supreme Court ruling.
Such a vote would have put him at odds with fellow Republican State Sen. Mark Wagoner of Ottawa Hills who represents Senate District 2. Mr. Wagoner castigated Republicans who refused to support the measure, saying that if they had been in the D-Day invasion of Normandy in World War II, most would not have gotten off the boat.
Mr. Waniewski said he has discussed the vote with Mr. Wagoner and respects his stand. He said he would have made sure education was adequately funded and found the nearly billion dollars elsewhere in the state budget.
"It's disingenuous for anybody to say Republicans don't want to fund schools. It's not that - it's the shell game that the government continues to play with money," Mr. Waniewski said.
Asked how he would jump-start the state's ailing jobs economy, he suggested establishing "right-to-work" zones that would allow workers to refuse to join a union or pay dues, such as at the city-owned Metcalf Field Airport that Toledo would like to market as an economic development zone.
"It means at-will employees, no closed shop," Mr. Waniewski said. "You have companies that are fearful of bargaining contracts that would give Ohio a second look."
Running for the Democratic nomination are Toledo City Councilman Joe McNamara and state Rep. Edna Brown (D., Toledo).
In a prepared statement, Mr. McNamara said his Republican colleague is a friend whom he respects, but who would be an obstacle to progress in the General Assembly.
"As one more member of the Senate's obstructionist Republican majority, he'd be just another vote for the status quo. I'm running to take on the big special interests and fight for the priorities of middle-class families. That's the kind of strong leadership I'll bring to Columbus," Mr. McNamara said.
Mr. Waniewski broke into politics in 2007, winning an unexpected victory in the previously Democratic Council District 5 seat.
A former television news reporter, he cofounded the Internet service provider Access Toledo, later selling his interest to Buckeye CableSystem, which is owned by Block Communications, parent firm of The Blade.
He said he is resigning from his job as development director of Boys and Girls Clubs of Toledo because he lacks the time required for the job and is looking for a new job. He is divorced and the father of a 25-year-old daughter.
The 11th Senate district includes the cities of Toledo and Oregon, Jerusalem and Washington townships, and a small piece of Sylvania Township.
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