From New York Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins:
Challenges Cuomo to Lay out His budget Plan
Criticizes Republicans for Inflaming Bigotry over NYC Interfaith Center while Ignoring State of NY’s Economy
Utica – Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for Governor, said today that he would put the 800,000 New Yorkers who are unemployed back to work with a WPA-style jobs program.
“The Green jobs program is simple. Everyone who wants a living wage job shows up at the employment office and we put them to work rebuilding New York. We pay for it in three easy steps, while resolving the projected $9 billion state budget deficit for next year. First, we stop rebating $16 billion annually from the stock transfer tax to Wall Street speculators. Second, we raise $8 billion while giving 95% of us a tax cut by going back to the state income tax system that existed before Cuomo and Pataki gave huge tax breaks to the rich. Third, we raise $10 billion with a 50% tax on the bonuses that bankers gave themselves in NYS – after taxpayers spent a trillions of dollars bailing them out from their greed, criminal behavior and incompetency,” said Hawkins.
Hawkins recently released a Green Hornet video, “Where’s the Money?” at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dV01mUCflvw&feature=player_embedded
“Cuomo has evaded telling the voters how he would have resolved this year’s budget deficit and is continuing to avoid providing specifics on how he plans to resolve next year’s $9 billion deficit. All he says is he will freeze state spending without saying how. Cutting state spending when consumer demand and business investment are depressed due their huge debt overhands will only make the economy worse. Public spending needs to fill the demand gap. The next Governor will have to propose a budget a little more than two months after the Election Day. I have laid out specific numbers on how I plan to balance the budget, and increase investment in schools, renewable energy, job creation and education, and get New York’s economy on a path to recovery and prosperity. I challenge my opponents to do the same and to debate their proposals with me in public,” said Hawkins.
Hawkins said his three revenue proposals would leave the state with a $25 billion surplus, which he would invest in a Green New Deal.
“We can make the needed investments in renewable energy and energy conservation that would provide the foundation for a carbon-free, sustainable economy. We could fully fund our public schools, while making community colleges, CUNY, and SUNY tuition free. We should build a world-class mass transit system comparable to Europe, cutting energy-wasting sprawl while protecting our farmlands and family farms. This is what we call the Green New Deal,” said Hawkins.
Hawkins would also stop the use of pesticides and fertilizers in our agriculture system due to their heavy use of fossil fuels.
Hawkins also supports the establishment of a state-owned bank like North Dakota has to ensure access to credit for New York businesses, consumers, and students while guiding sustainable green economic development. North Dakota is one two states without a budget deficit and its bank always returns a profit while reinvesting its deposits in building the state’s economy.
“Under both Democrats and Republicans, New York’s economic development agenda has been tax cuts for the rich and more corporate welfare for large campaign contributors. It has failed to produce the jobs that New York needs. Under a Hawkins administration, job creation is going to be about providing jobs to the unemployed and democratic community control of investments in local businesses and infrastructure, not big handouts to the rich and powerful,” said Hawkins.
Hawkins also wants to lower local property taxes by having the state take over Medicaid payments from county and moving to a single payer, improved and expanded Medicare for All program. A state-funded study recently concluded that this plan would cost New Yorkers $28 billion a year less than the individual mandate system recently enacted by Congress – and $20 billion less than the present health care system in NY.
Hawkins added that he was very disturbed by the efforts of the Republican Gubernatorial candidates to advance their sagging election prospects by crudely inflaming religious and ethnic tensions by attacking the proposed Muslim Center near the former World Trade Center.
“Why do these Republicans hate our freedom? Freedom of religion is the first freedom protected in the First Amendment. It’s about freedom of thought, the foundation of freedom of speech, press, assembly, and petitioning the government for redress of grievances. Why do right-wingers like Lazio and Paladino hate our U.S. Constitution? They talk freedom and practice repression. They sound like Big Brother in George Orwell’s 1984: War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength,” said Hawkins.
“At a time when the Great Recession is still throwing New Yorkers out of their jobs and homes, when the state budget is bust because all the major party politicians refuse to make the rich pay their fair share of taxes, these guys are trying to win the election by dividing New Yorkers against each other by race, ethnicity, and religion. They are making the Muslim community center an issue to divert attention from their unpopular response to the economic crisis of cutting public spending, gutting our schools, hospitals, mass transit, highways, police, and other public goods and services, and throwing thousands of more teachers, transit workers, police, and other public workers into the unemployment rolls. I trust that New Yorkers will see through this ugly strategy,” said Hawkins.
Hawkins said he would cut local property taxes by eliminating the requirement that counties and NYC pick up part of the state’s cost for the federal Medicaid program. Most states do not require local governments to pay for part of Medicaid.
Hawkins said the proposal from Cuomo and the Republican candidates to cap property taxes was another attempt at a “one size fits all mandate from Albany that takes away local freedom to set tax rates and budgets. Lifting the unfunded mandate for Medicaid through a state takeover of all its costs and a circuit breaker on property taxes to protect low- and moderate-income on fixed incomes are better ways to provide relief from high property taxes.”
Hawkins said “a single payer system would be the most efficient way for the state to takeover Medicaid. Medicare is an American program that has worked well to improve the health care of our nation’s system seniors. We need to protect this critical program while improving the benefits provided and expanding it so that everyone is covered. The Democrats sold us out, giving a huge taxpayer subsidy to insurance companies by mandating that everyone has to have expensive and ineffective private health insurance if they do not qualify for public health insurance programs like Medicare, Medicaid, or the Veterans Administration. What the Greens want, and Americas need, is to eliminate insurance companies by covering everyone under a single program, no exceptions, no co-pays or deductibles, everyone included,” stated Hawkins.
Hawkins was arrested the day after he received 41% of the vote last year for Syracuse City Council in a protest at the Syracuse office of WellPoint, the largest health insurance conglomerate in the US that is notorious for denying treatments and canceling polices for sick policyholders and large premium increases in the run up to health care reform last year.
Hawkins said he supported the proposed Islamic Interfaith Center. The Center was approved by the Community Board of Lower Manhattan, following public hearings, by a vote of 29 to 1, with 10 abstentions. The proposed center features space for inter-community cultural events and multi-faith prayer, and a memorial to those who died on September 11.
Hawkins said he is troubled by how both Republicans and Democrats have manipulated the murder of thousands of innocent individuals on September 11, 2001 to further their political agenda of armed invasion of the Middle East to seize oil supplies while curtailing civil liberties here in the United States. He said the costs of these wars have hurt the economy by spending tax money overseas instead of investing it at home to provide needed public services and create the new systems of sustainable production that will avert catastrophic climate change and other environmental threats to public health and long term prosperity.