Hawkins Demands Inclusion in Gubernatorial Debates - Voters Want Something Other than Just Tea Partiers

Howie Hawkins for Governor - Green Party
Media Release
www.howiehawkins.org - www.gpny.org

For Immediate Release: September 23, 2010
For More Info:
Howie Hawkins, 315 474-7055
Mark Dunlea 518 860-3725


Calls for Cleanup of PCBs from Hudson, Shut Down on Indian Point


(Poughkeepsie) Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for Governor, called today for Andrew Cuomo to agree to open debate in the Gubernatorial election. Republican Carl Paladino supports including all Gubernatorial candidates/


"The polls shows that the voters don't want this election to just be a coronation for Andy as Cuomo II.. The voters are entitled to hear real solutions to the problems such as 800,000 New Yorkers out of work, a $9 billion state budget deficit, and skyrocketing poverty rates. Nor should the debates be limited to whether or not a real estate developer or a career politician best represents the fringe Tea Party movement. It is incredible that we are in the midst of the worst recession in 70 years and my opponents have no plans to put New Yorkers back to work other than cutting state spending, provide tax cuts to the rich, and attach public employee unions," said Hawkins, the only union member running for statewide office.


"Public jobs for full employment, single payer health care, making the rich pay their fair share of taxes, and a ban on hydrofracking – these are four policies that have widespread support among New Yorkers. But they will not have a champion if I am not included in the gubernatorial debates. Most New Yorkers do not agree with the Tea Parties agenda," Hawkins added.


Hawkins has advocate a WPA style jobs program for NYS. If individuals can't get a job from the private sector, they would go to the local employment office to find work that would improve the local community.


"It is amazing that the major party candidates have largely ignored the fact that we are in the greatest recession in 70 years." This recession has hit the poor far harder than the rest of society. Unemployment among the poor in the US is now in excess of 30% – as bad as the Great Depression. Our first priority is to put people to work, not cut state spending or protect the wealthy from paying their fair share of the tax cuts," added Hawkins.


Hawkins also said that the environmental issues were critical to the well-being of New York. "Climate change is probably the greatest threat to our future. We need to invest in an immediate transition in renewable energy, not waste resources on more fossil fuels such as hydrofracking for natural gas. We also need to reduce other uses of fossil fuels, such as increased investment in mass transit and a reducing the use of pesticides and fertilizers as we move to a local, sustainable food system," said Hawkins.


Hawkins said rather than building more nuclear powers plants with their huge cost concerns and radioactive storage problems, he would shut down the state's existing nukes, starting with the Indian Point nuclear plant. He said that the negative impact on fish and the lack of a realistic evacuation plan gave the state ample groups to stop the plant. Indian Point has also had problems with a steam boiler rupture, a transformer explosion, siren failures, increasing leaks of radioactive material, and numerous unplanned closures. Hawkins said that while the Attorney General's office has done good work recently in supporting efforts to get the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to shut the plant down, since announcing his run for Governor Cuomo has been more evasive as to the conditions under which he would seek the plant's closure.


Hawkins also said that as Governor he would work with the federal government to push General Electric to finish the dredging of PCBs from the Hudson River as soon as possible. GE once again is trying to delay the cleanup, calling for additional studies since the level of PCBs were higher than they predicted.


"For too long companies like GE have increased their profits by polluting our natural resources and expecting the taxpayers would pick up the costs not only for cleanup but for the various environmental and public health problems they created. We need to adopt the concept that polluters pay and that they have to be responsible for their external costs," said Hawkins.


Since the primary, Cuomo has argued that he embraces the Tea Party agenda just as much as Paladino.


"Andrew Cuomo and Carl Paladino want to cap or cut state spending and blame teachers, public employees, and people using safety net programs for the state's deficits. I say we have deficits because the rich don't pay their fair share of taxes. Cuomo and Paladino refuse to raise taxes on the rich, who have enjoyed three decades of tax cuts that were supposed to give them incentive to invest and create jobs. That trickle down economics theory is a proven failure. I say it is time to tax the rich again and put their money to better use in the public sector funding a Green New Deal that will create jobs and a sustainable green economic recovery based on renewable energy, mass transit, fully funded schools, single payer health care, and a green industrial policy. It's a choice between the Cuomo/Paladino austerity plan and the Green prosperity plan – and New Yorkers deserve to hear that choice debated," Hawkins said.


In addition to a guaranteed living wage jobs program for all New Yorkers, Hawkins said that as Governor he would enforce the state law (Sec. 54 of the State Finance Law) requiring the state government to share 8% of its revenues with local government; instead, lawmakers each year waive the law and provide only about 2% of its revenues to cities and other local governments. Hawkins also supports reducing local property taxes by having the state take over the counties' contribution to Medicaid and by enacting a state single payer Medicare for All type program.


Hawkins also criticized Cuomo for refusing to join him during the recent state budget debate to call for the state's windfall of $638 million for jobs and direct payments for welfare participants (TANF eligible households under 200% of poverty) to actually be spent on jobs rather than plugging up holes in the state budget. State lawmakers voted to only provide $14 million for such job initiatives, down from $70 million last year.


Previewing what he might say in a debate, Hawkins discussed four policy proposals he wants to debate with Cuomo and Paladino.


Public Jobs for Full Employment: "State government should guarantee that every person willing and able to work can get a living wage job. The jobs would be planned at the local level and funded by the state. There is plenty of work to be done: improving our housing stock with green building improvements and new affordable housing; building a renewable energy system based on solar, wind, ground-source heat pumps, cellulosic biofuels and a smart grid for distributed generation and energy efficiency; expanding metropolitan mass transit and rebuilding the electric interurban rail system; improving and expanding parks and other public spaces; child care, elder care, and recreational and cultural programs.


"Public jobs employing unused labor to satisfy unmet community needs is a great New York tradition, initiated at the state level as the Great Depression deepened by Governor Franklin Roosevelt, his industrial commissioner, Francis Perkins, and his jobs program administrator, Harry Hopkins in 1931, before they made it a national program when they went to the White House. It's time for a Green New Deal that starts with living wage jobs for all."


Single Payer Health Care: "A state health care program, providing an improved and expanded system of Medicare for all New Yorkers, would not only improve the health of New Yorkers, it would save us billions of dollars and do far more to cut property taxes than a property tax cap. A state-funded study released last year concluded that a single public payer system would save New Yorkers $28 billion a year by 2019 compared to the individual mandate system enacted last March by Congress. Single payer would also end the biggest unfunded mandate of all by taking over the county share of Medicaid expenses, which is more than half of county budgets in most counties."


Stock Transfer Tax: "The Democrats and Republicans say the state has to cap or cut state spending because we don't have the tax revenues. But the fact is that the state took in $16 billion from the Stock Transfer Tax last year and rebated it back to Wall Street. If the state had kept those tax revenues, the state would have had a $7 billion surplus instead of a $9 billion deficit. The state deficit is politics, not economics; money drenched politicians, not impersonal market forces. The old parties want to make state workers and the general public that uses schools, roads, mass transit, and other public services pay for the deficit instead of the big banking and real estate interests that finance their parties.


"We've had three decades of tax cuts for the rich on the theory that they would invest in new and expanding businesses. Instead they have been speculating short term, rearranging paper entitlements to existing productive assets, instead of investing long term in the creation of new wealth in productive assets that employ people. To get the economy going again, the public sector needs to tax the high rollers who are speculating and put some of that money to better use through public spending and investment. In addition to the Stock Transfer Tax, we should enact a 50% Bankers' Bonus Tax on the $20 billion in cash bonuses that Wall Street executives paid themselves after the federal government spent trillions bailing them out. We should also restore the 1972 progressive income tax structure, which would give tax cuts to the bottom 95% of income earners while raising $8 billion more in revenues.


"Those three reforms would bring in $34 billion in additional state revenue. Subtract the projected $9 billion deficit and the state would have $25 billion for a Green New Deal to jump start a sustainable green economic recovery. With consumer demand and business investment depressed, economic stagnation and high unemployment will persist for years without public spending to raise effective demand. We need progressive tax reform to fund an economic recovery spearheaded by a revitalized public sector."


Ban Hydrofracking: "I'm calling for a permanent ban on hydrofracking. The Republicans who call for 'Drill, Baby, Drill' know full well that sooner or later that means 'Spill, Baby, Spill,' as the BP Deep Horizon well in the Gulf and the many cases of water contamination by hydrofracking wells in Pennsylvania and other states show.


"The Democrats' call for a moratorium is just to get them through the election. They qualify their 'opposition' to hydrofracking by saying 'unless it can be done safely.' Their moratorium only lasts until the DEC can write regs for 'safe drilling.' By next summer, it will be 'Drill, Baby, Drill' for hydrofracking with Democratic support unless we make a ban on hydrofracking the issue and not get diverted by a temporary moratorium.


"I support a ban not only because hydrofracking will pollute our waters, but also because it is an irresponsible diversion from building a carbon-free economy based on clean renewable energy. Natural gas is a dirty source of energy that emits carbon dioxide and methane, the much more potent greenhouse gas that leaks from wellheads, compressors, pipelines, and filling stations. Natural gas is not the bridge to the future that some claim it is. That bridge is out and will send us over the cliff.


"We need to focus our energy policies and investments on creating a clean renewable energy system as fast as possible. With global warming accelerating, the next 10 years may well determine the fate of humanity for the next 10,000 years. New York can set an example for the country and the world by rejecting this dangerous fossil fuel and building a carbon-free economy with the same urgency our nation had for the World War II mobilization where production was rapidly converted to a war footing."


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