Tina Bojanowski | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Tina Bojanowski

Political party: 
Question 1: 

What’s your vision for Kentucky? How will the lives of Kentuckians be improved as a result of your time in office? What legislative committees will you request to serve on once elected? 

I would like to see a Commonwealth where all of the basic needs of Kentuckians are met, with an emphasis on individuals with disabilities and mental health disorders. Once people's basic needs are met, they are better able to become contributing members of society. We think about basic needs regularly in education. If our students do not have food, housing, health care, and love and belongingness, they will struggle with learning. My goal as a special education teacher is to ensure that basic needs of my students are met. My goal as a legislator is the same. I am currently on the following committees: - Education - Health and Family Services - Small Business & Information Technology I will request to serve on the same committees during the next cycle.

Question 2: 

Even after Governor Beshear's December 2019 executive order that restored voting rights to 152,000 Kentuckians with felonies in their past, over 170,000 Kentuckians are still ineligible to vote. Do you support a constitutional amendment to automatically restore voting rights to all Kentuckians with felonies in their past once they've served their time, probation, and parole? Why or why not?

Yes, I support a constitutional amendment to automatically restore voting rights. Once someone has served their time for their offense, they should be eligible to participate in the most important aspect of our democracy, the right to vote. The voice of all Kentuckians should be heard at the poll, not just individuals who have never committed a felony. A crime that doesn't have a life sentence should not take away the right to vote for a lifetime.

Question 3: 

During the 2020 primary, Kentuckians voted in record numbers as a result of mail-in absentee voting and early voting. But we can improve on what we learned in the primary and make voting more accessible for all Kentuckians. What is your view on modernizing state election laws? Specifically, do you support allowing early voting, mail-in ballots, same-day voter registration, extended hours at polling locations, offering ballots in multiple languages, and other election reforms? Would you uphold or work to repeal Senate Bill 2, which makes it harder for voters who don't have particular kinds of photo ID to vote, knowing that many Kentuckians do not have – and face barriers to obtaining – those forms of ID?

I fully support early voting, no-excuse absentee voting, same-day voter registration, extended hours at polling locations, and offering ballots in multiple languages. I voted against Senate Bill 2 and would vote to repeal it.

Question 4: 

Even before COVID, Kentucky’s tax code did not raise enough revenue to meet the Commonwealth’s needs. We’ve reached dangerous levels of disinvestment in pensions, public education, infrastructure, and other essential programs. While there may be federal aid to buffer some of those impacts, we still need our own sustainable, long-term revenue solutions. What would you do to create a more equitable state tax structure – where everyone pays their fair share – that raises adequate revenue, fights poverty, and invests in Kentucky’s under-resourced communities and the services we all need?

The first step I would take is to legalize sports wagering. Secondly, I would ensure a regular and thorough study of tax expenditures takes place to assess the return on investment of the $7.5+ billion that KY currently gives in tax breaks. Finally, I would ensure that we do not further shift to a consumption-based structure, but instead implement an equitable tax system that doesn't put more of a burden on people with low- and middle-incomes.

Question 5: 

Many undocumented and mixed immigration status families here in Kentucky do not have access to government aid, stimulus payments, and other resources offered during this pandemic, while they’re simultaneously more likely to be essential workers and are at the highest risk for COVID-19 infection. What would you do to expand support and resources to Kentucky’s immigrant families, undocumented or otherwise, in the time of a global pandemic and beyond?

Immigrant families, undocumented or otherwise, are people who are worthy and deserving of having their basic needs met. I would expand the supports offered through the public school system to help families with school-age children. Our Family Resource and Youth Services Centers provide information, support, and guidance about resources available in the community. I voted against Senate Bill 1 in 2020 and will do the same if a similar bill is brought to the floor. My mother is an immigrant, in fact she is still in the United States on a Green Card. Immigrants should be welcomed into our Commonwealth and given every opportunity to become a citizen, as many are already contributing members of our society.

Question 6: 

Is acting to address the climate crisis a priority for you? What policies do you support to ensure that solutions – such as clean energy jobs and reducing high energy bills – benefit all Kentuckians, including low-income communities, communities of color, and those who are most impacted by the changing climate? And what policies would you support to ensure that all Kentuckians have clean air and water, no matter the color of our skin, income, or zip code?

Addressing the climate crisis is a priority for me. Last session, I filed a resolution to study the economic impact of using renewable energies. I will file it again in the 2021 Regular Session. I will fully advocate for policies that ensure that Kentuckians have clean air and water. I co-signed HB126 in the 2020 Regular Session to ensure that the affordability of rates is considered when determining fair, just, and reasonable utility rates.

Question 7: 

Kentuckians from across the state are coming together to say Black Lives Matter and to demand that all Kentuckians can move through our communities without fearing for our lives or our loved ones. What is the role of the Kentucky legislature in opposing white supremacy, addressing racial inequality and supporting racial justice for Black people, Indigenous people, and all people of color in our state? Please identify at least two policy initiatives you would propose while in office to address racial and systemic inequalities.

Representative Attica Scott filed HB138 in the 2020 session to address racial disparities in maternal and infant mortality. I plan to co-sponsor that bill when is re-filed in the 2021 session to track maternal deaths, provide Medicare reimbursement for qualified doula care, and mandate implicit bias training for perinatal medical professionals. Students of color, especially those from low-income families, are adversely affected by our current high-stakes accountability system. The high-stakes nature of the assessments leads to test-based instruction, rather than the rich learning environment that supports the learning of all students and especially our most at-risk students. I have pre-filed BR176 to evaluate flexible methods of revising our state accountability system that drives meaningful instruction, values student performance beyond standardized testing, and incentivizes rich and diverse learning opportunities.

Question 8: 

Kentucky has the ninth highest incarceration rate in the nation, is second for incarcerating women, and has the second-highest rate of children separated from a parent due to incarceration. In addition, Black Kentuckians face disproportionate arrest, conviction, and incarceration, and a heightened risk of police brutality. And people in many parts of our state face racial profiling, intimidation and unjust detainment and detention by federal and local authorities due to immigration status or perceived status. Many Kentuckians are calling for various measures to stem the tide of racialized criminalization, police brutality, mass incarceration, and detention and deportation – from police reform, to increased community investment, to a complete defunding and abolition of the police and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). If elected, what will you do to make strides toward ending mass incarceration in Kentucky and reinvesting resources into the communities most impacted by this system?

The most shocking statistic I found while completing a PhD in Education was that 75% of students who are receiving special education services under the disability category of Emotional-Behavioral Disability (EBD) have involvement with the criminal justice system (other than traffic violations) during their lifetime. There is a school-to-prison pipeline and we know exactly who many of the students are who are in it. We must offer these students wrap-around services to meet their basic needs (health, food, housing, etc.), ensure that they have mental health support, and encourage them to engage in academics to break the cycle. To do so, we need to continue to invest in our public schools by funding wrap-around services, mental health care, and trauma-informed education. Meanwhile, we need to reform the cash bail system, decrease the number of offenders who commit lower-level crimes who are sentenced to prison, and shorten the sentences of those who are incarcerated.

Question 9: 

Do you support a statewide Fairness law to protect LGBTQ people (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, queer) from discrimination in housing, employment, financial transactions, and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity? Do you support a statewide ban on the practice of LGBTQ conversion therapy, which would protect Kentucky youth from a harmful and medically discredited practice?

I support a statewide Fairness law to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in housing, employment, financial transactions, and pubic accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. I also support a statewide ban on conversion therapy. In June, the Supreme Court ruled that the Civil Rights Act protects LGBTQ workers. We are moving in the right direction, but we need to ensure that housing, financial transactions, and public accommodations are also areas in which LGBTQ people are protected from discrimination.

Question 10: 

Nearly 400,000 low-income Kentuckians qualified for health care – including vision, dental and mental health – for the first time under the Affordable Care Act. But major challenges remain, and many are exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. What would you do to make sure Kentuckians can get and stay healthy? What are your health-related legislative priorities? 

Answer 10: 

We need to ensure that the Medicaid expansion remains in place and is funded. While the federal government pays 90% of the costs, the state pays the other 10%. With the impact of Covid-19 on the budget, it is imperative that the expansion is a funding priority. In addition, we need to ensure that individuals are not penalized for pre-existing conditions and are able to access affordable prescriptions. In 2019 I filed a bill to create a Medicaid waiver program to provide supported housing and supporting employment for individuals with severe mental illnesses. I am working with mental health advocates to plan the next legislative steps to ensure that individuals with mental health disorders receive the support that they need.