Howie Hawkins: Voters Want Something Other than Just Tea Partiers

Hawkins Demands Inclusion in Gubernatorial Debates, 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.