By Joe Beck
Rep. Michael Webert, 34, of Marshall, was elected as a Republican to the 18th District seat in the House of Delegates in 2011.
He runs a nearly 3,000-acre family farm in Fauquier County and is co-owner of Black Locust Livestock LLC. He holds a bachelor's degree from George Mason University. His memberships include the Fauquier Farm Bureau Board and the Fauquier Livestock Exchange Board. He is the founder of the Business Development Caucus, which he describes as a bi-partisan group of legislators focused on job creation, economic development and empowerment of small businesses.
He has been endorsed for re-election by the National Federation of Independent Businesses and has received an A rating from the Virginia Chamber of Commerce in the last two years. His favorite pastime is duck hunting with his dog, Cash.
The following questions were written by Joe Beck and the answers were provided by Rep. Webert.
Q. Should teachers be paid more? If so, how much more and what, if any, role does the state have as a funding source?
A. We would always like to see our teachers paid more. In fact, I voted to give teachers pay raises and have worked to ensure that the state invests more money in K-12 education than in years past. As revenues for the commonwealth increase, I hope we can continue to make education a priority for Virginia. We should also allow teachers more flexibility to educate their students in and out of the classroom by helping classes to partner with local businesses. Partnerships and other programs are one way to help emerging students synthesize and apply their education to real world tasks. This is a reason why I co-sponsored HB 2102 to create high school-to-work partnerships and provide our students with more opportunities.
Q. What, if any, changes to state laws governing the acceptance and reporting of gifts to elected officials do you support?
A. Virginia's gift laws need to be examined. As one who very rarely accepts gifts of any kind, I can honestly say there are a couple of things that can be done. For example, we can place limits on the monetary value of contributions and have reporting guidelines for immediate family members if gifts are politically related. Further, General Assembly members should report two qualitatively different types of gifts. The first category would be related to material gifts such as watches, pendants, etc. The second would be travel related, such as touring a power plant or health facility. We may also wish to consider examining where exactly contributions come from e.g., allowing outside interests buy into state elections.
Q. Should state income taxes for individuals and businesses be raised, lowered, or kept the same? What should the extra revenue be spent on if taxes are raised? What spending programs should be cut if they are lowered?
A. The tax question should be: "What can we do to simplify our tax code?" For example, if tax credits are not effective in accomplishing the intended goal, they then should be removed and allocated in a more efficient capacity. That revenue can be used to lower corporate and/or personal income taxes without losing revenue to pay for state funded programs. We can also focus on tax credits that give the commonwealth the biggest "bang for the buck" in regard to what will make us even more competitive with other states.
Q. Do you support or oppose Virginia's ban on same sex marriage?
A. Regardless of my personal opinion on the matter, I have taken an oath to uphold the constitution of Virginia. I take that oath very seriously and will work to ensure I fulfill my promise to do so.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org