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Citizens Union - Howie Hawkins
Howie's answers to Citizens Union questionnaire on reforming state government and policy issues facing New York State.
Candidate Questionnaire – Local Candidates Committee -- NYS Elections 2018
Citizens Union appreciates your response to the following questionnaire related to policy issues facing New York State, and our interest in reforming state government. Responses to these questions will be one of several factors Citizens Union uses to evaluate candidates running for Governor of New York State, and to issue our preference for the Primary and endorsement for the General Election.
Candidate Name: Howie Hawkins
Party Affiliation(s): Green Party
Education: Dartmouth College
Office Sought: Governor of New York
Occupation/Employer: Retired UPS Teamster
Previous Offices, Campaigns and Community/Civic Involvement:
Green Party candidate for Governor of New York in 2010 and 2014
Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate in 2006
Green Party candidate for state Comptroller in 1998 and 2002
Green Party candidate for Mayor of Syracuse in 1997, 2005, and 2017
Green Party candidate for Syracuse City Auditor in 2015
Green Party candidate for U.S. House in 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008
Green Party candidate for Syracuse Common Council in 1993, 1994, 1995, 2001, 2003, 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2013
Green Party candidate for Onondaga County Executive in 1999
Current civic involvement in Syracuse:
Teamsters Local 317
Syracuse Fiscal Advisory Committee (on leave during the campaign)
Eat To Live Food Cooperative and Sankofa Cooperative Cafe, board secretary
Southside Community Coalition, board member and treasurer
American Legion Dunbar Post 1642
Have you completed required campaign finance filings? YES
Are you willing to be interviewed by CU’s Local Candidates Committee? YES
II. CANDIDATE QUESTIONS
2018 PRIORITY ISSUES:
1. Limit outside compensation earned by state legislators and statewide officials to 25% of their
salaries, while enacting a salary increase and eliminating stipends. Support
2. Reform the Joint Commission on Public Ethics to eliminate the ability of one party to veto an
investigation and to increase disclosure of its decision-making. Support
ELECTIONS AND VOTING
3. Do you support or oppose the following changes to the state’s current registration and
a. Early voting Support
b. No-excuse absentee voting Support
c. Election Day voter registration Support
d. Re-enfranchisement of people on parole automatically through legislation, without requiring a Certificate of Good Conduct or Relief Support
e. Automatic voter registration, unless the potential voter opts out Support
f. Consolidated state and federal primaries Support
g. Electronic poll books Not yet, not until connectivity and cybersecurity issues are fixed.
4. Reform the special election process, utilizing a nonpartisan special election for state legislative seats and eliminate delays in filling vacancies.
Support eliminating delays but oppose nonpartisan elections. It’s up to party members to eliminate party bosses. Without democratic parties, public is atomized and the wealthy dominate.
5. Establish public financing of campaigns for state legislative and statewide offices using a method similar to New York City’s Campaign Finance Law.
I oppose the matching funds partial public financing model, which just adds public money to the private money system that is dominated by wealthy interests. I support full public campaign financing on the Clean Money model as used in Arizona and Maine. I have a full discussion of the difference between partial public financing on the matching funds model and full public financing on the Clean Money model on my website athttp://www.howiehawkins.org/issue_brief_on_public_campaign_finance.
6. Close the LLC loophole to ensure that limited liability companies have the same contribution
limits as corporations, rather than the higher limit for individuals. Support
7. Drastically reduce campaign contribution limits and reduce them even further from
registered lobbyists and those who do business with the state. Support
8. Require full disclosure of grants and contracts issued by the state, including the budget lines from which the spending is made and reporting on the results of each grant or contract over a certain amount. Support
9. Provide for adequate online disclosure and itemization of spending from elected officials’ lump sum appropriations, including reporting on potential conflicts of interest and how the funds are spent. Support
10. Repeal Civil Rights Law, Sec. 50-a, which shields from public view the disciplinary records of
police officers, correction officers, and firefighters. Support
11. Restructure the state Board of Elections to abolish the strict two-party division of governance and operation and putting in place professional, nonpartisan administration. Support
12. Empower the attorney general to investigate and prosecute election law malfeasance and cases of public corruption. Support
13. Make mayoral control of city schools permanent, with a governance system that provides for accountability, transparency, parent engagement, and democratic participation.
Support home rule on NYC school governance.
Oppose mayoral control.
Support elected school boards.
14. How would you seek to further restore the public’s trust in government? What other steps would you take to expand transparency of state government, including the Executive Chamber?
Impanel a new Moreland Commission on Public Corruption
Replace JCOPE with an Independent Ethics Commission
Full Public Campaign Finance
Enact the Procurement Integrity Act to restore the state Comptroller's authority to pre-screen construction contracts at SUNY campuses and related facilities, including its nonprofits.
Full-Time Legislature with limits on income from outside work while serving in office, similar to the limitations on Representatives in Congress.
Term Limits: 2 four-year terms for executive officers, 6 two-year terms for legislators
Database of Deals: Publish annually a list of state subsidies to specific businesses to make state economic planning more transparent
Independent Redistricting Commission
Proportional Representation in the State Legislature: The current single-member-district, winner-take-all election system elects the candidate with the plurality vote and gives minority voters no representation at all. Proportional representation from multi-member districts elects each party's candidates for the legislative chambers in proportion to the votes that each party's candidates receive. Because the districts are multi-member and the results proportional, the influence of district lines and the possibilities for gerrymandering are minimized.
Instant Runoff Voting for Executive Offices: Elect statewide executive offices (Governor/Lt. Governor, Comptroller, Attorney General, U.S. Senators) by ranked choice voting.
Free Public TV Time for Candidates: Direct statements from candidates, as well as candidate forums, debates, and other interactive programming, for all ballot-qualified statewide, state legislative, and congressional candidates who opt into public campaign financing on a New York State C-SPAN (Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network) and on Public, Educational, and Governmental Access (PEG) channels included as part of local cable franchise agreements.
Ballot Reform: One page for each office or ballot proposition. Random ordering of candidates on each page. One ballot line for each candidate with all party endorsements on that line. A voter guide mailed to all registered voters, including sample ballots and statements from each political party and each candidate of up to 250 words.
Eliminate “Opportunity To Ballot” Primaries: The state election law provides for Opportunity To Ballot petitions to create write-in primaries where a candidate from another party can steal a ballot position from a party that chooses not to run a candidate in a particular race. This provision in the state election law is an infringement on a party's right to internal democracy and independence from other parties. The Opportunity To Ballot provisions of the election law should be eliminated.
15. How do you view the budget process with respect to timeliness, effectiveness, fairness, and public accountability? What improvements, if any, would you make?
Get the three or four men out of their room. Go through regular order. Make the budget adoption about the budget. Make the legislature enact legislation affecting policy during the rest of the session. Make the legislature full-time so they have the time to hold proper hearings and debates on policy.
16. Further to your responses to questions 5, 6, and 7, related to campaign finance, in the previous section, what is your view about measures to limit the role of money in elections and politics? If elected, would you set an example on campaign finance reform by voluntarily (even unilaterally) limiting the size of campaign contributions you receive by an amount significantly less than the current limit, should reforms not be enacted? If not, why not?
I want to eliminate private money in public elections. The first step is the voluntary full public campaign finance system on the Clean Money model.
To enable full public financing of public elections for all candidates, I support the We, The People Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, House Joint Resolution 48, with 59 co-sponsors, to establish that only natural human beings, not artificial corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights and that money is property, not protected speech. This amendment would repeal the Buckley v. Valeo, Citizens United v. FEC, and McCutcheon v. FEC decisions and enable we the people through our elected representatives to publicly and fully regulate and finance public elections.
For this election, I already have limited contributions to my campaign to the current federal limit of $2,700. The state limit in this race of $44,000 is an invitation to pay-to-play corruption.
17. What is your view of the state’s current financial situation? Are there specific programs or revenue sources that you would consider increasing, decreasing, eliminating or creating? How will you deal with the recent federal tax law changes that limit the tax deductibility of state income and property taxes to $10,000?
The state’s debt is approaching its constitutional limit at a time when infrastructure needs major investments for maintenance and improvement. I favor reducing dependence on expensive bonding for infrastructure investments and shifting to credit extending by a public bank similar to North Dakota’s state bank. The public bank would be the depository for the state’s cash deposits. With about $400 billion of the state’s various funds deposited in commercial banks, if this money were deposited in a public bank, $360 million would be available for infrastructure and other public investment with fractional reserve lending with a 10% reserve. The interest and principle would return to the state instead of going to Wall Street and bondholders, reducing the financing costs of infrastructure investments by as much as 50%.
The state’s Tax Stabilization Reserve Fund and Rainy Day Reserve Fund are depleted at a time when financial asset bubbles are inflated, including student debt, stock market margin debt, stock price/earnings ratios, and real estate land values. The state should replenish these funds before another financial crisis, which growing fears of trade war and a shooting war could trigger even before the ability to service debt for asset bubbles reaches its limit.
In order to replenish reserve funds and fully fund public services at a time when the state comptroller projects an $18 billion budget gap over the next three years under the business as usual scenario, the state should increase revenues through variety of progressive tax reforms. With the share of income going to the top 1% increasing from 12% in 1980 to 30% by 2014 in New York State – and from 12% in 1980 to 41% in 2014 in New York City – higher taxes on high-income people is reasonable and necessary. I have detailed my full set of reforms in my campaign platform athttp://www.howiehawkins.org/issues_progressive_taxation.The key reforms would include:
1. More progressive income taxes, particularly graduated brackets on multi-millionaire incomes combined with lower rates for low-wage people. For example, the bottom bracket was 2% in the 1970s. Today it is 4%. We have an income tax model using these principles that would raise an additional $10 billion a year, while providing income tax relief for low and middle income people.
2. Retaining rather than rebating the stock transfer tax, which has generated between $14 billion and $16 billion in recent years.
3. A progressive carbon tax, with 25% of the revenues for refundable tax credits to low and middle income people and the remainder for clear energy investments. The model of this tax being used to draft state legislation projects $7 billion a year in new revenue.
4. A state land value tax which would tax the rental value of land and levy no tax on improvements on the land like buildings. The revenues from a state LVT should be largely returned to local governments by an equitable formula, with a portion retained by the state for public investments and programs that benefit all communities. LVT is a fairer property tax because it returns to the public treasury the windfall of unearned value added to the price and rental value of a piece of land by social investments and improvements (such as transportation, water, and sewage infrastructure; nearby businesses, housing, schools, parks, and community gardens; and land-use planning decisions). We are working on projections of revenues that a state land value tax would generate. It would be substantial given that the land value of New York City alone is now bigger that New York State's GDP, which would rank the state 11th among the world's nations. The big increases in land values in New York City have resulted in huge increases in unearned income for the top 1%.
To the claim that more progressive taxes will encourage high income people to leave the state, we rely on the peer-reviewed academic studies that show that higher tax states do have a net loss of high-income people. High-income people generally make their money in those states and have family and social ties in their communities they are generally loathe to break.
In response to the recent changes in federal taxes, it remains to be seen if the state’s attempt to bypass their impact on higher income individuals through the payroll and non-profit donation routes will survive in the courts. I think these are reasonable responses, but not enough. I favor several other reforms to address the federal tax changes.
To address the loss of state revenues, I support these state tax changes (the amounts appended are projections from the Fiscal Policy Institute’s FY 2019 budget briefing book):
1. An Unincorporated Business Tax, a state surtax on high-dollar pass-through income from LLCs and other business vehicles in order to recapture some of the 20 percent deduction granted by new federal tax cuts to pass-through business income ($1 billion/year).
2. A Claw-Back Tax on Unproductive Federal Corporate Tax Cut which would effect publicly traded companies that receive tax breaks under the new federal tax law but do not create jobs or raise their workers’ pay, with exemptions for small businesses and start-ups ($1 billion/year).
3. A Windfall Profits Tax on the Opioid Wealth of pharmaceutical companies built by abusing the prescription system to explode sales and distribute dangerous opioid painkillers beyond their proper use ($ billions).
4. Close the Carried Interest Loophole used by hedge fund managers, private equity investors, venture capitalists and certain real estate investors to treat capital income as ordinary income and pay the lower capital gains rate. (Revenue: $3.5 billion a year).
For the higher income people affected by the cap on deductibility of income and property taxes:
5. Enable local governments to cut property taxes by state restoring revenue sharing to local governments to the much higher levels of the 1970s.
6. Shift the state tax burden off earned income from wages and salaries by instituting a land value tax on the unearned income of land rents.
18. What would be your approach to education? How would you ensure the provision of funding needed to ensure a sound basic education under the Campaign for Fiscal Equity decisions to all of New York’s school districts? What is your view on the use of standardized tests?
The state should fully fund the Foundation Aid Formula to meet the Campaign for Fiscal Equity ruling to provide a sound basic education to all New York children. I would tell the Attorney General to settle the lawsuits by New York City/Syracuse and the Small Cities for full funding and put full funding in the state budget.
The state should completely end high-stakes testing to rank students, teachers, and schools. The high-poverty schools predictably score low. Low scores are used to define high-poverty schools as failing, set them up for closure, and rationalize the expansion of privately-managed charter schools. This policy just punishes students, teachers, and schools in high-poverty schools simply for being poor. It dumbs down and narrows the curriculum to teaching to the test. Every student should have access to both gifted-quality and vocational courses without tracking.
The only educational reform since Brown v. Board of Education that has substantially reduced achievement test scores is school integration. The middle class students scores do not decline in integrated schools and all the students do better on other qualities like intellectual self-confidence, critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, teamwork, and tolerance. The state should incentivize the consolidation of urban/suburban school districts to end the district lines that now serve as neo Jim Crow lines of race and class segregation. In both New York City and these new diverse districts in the rest of the state integration should be achieved by controlled choice where students and teachers rank their school choices in order of preference, with school assignments made by with an algorithm formula to optimize ranked choices and school integration.
Pre-K should be available all on a voluntary basis. Kindergarten should be universal across the state. CUNY and SUNY schools should be truly tuition-free.
19. How do you plan to address the systemic failures of the Metropolitan Transit Authority and New York City’s transportation infrastructure? What is your view of congestion pricing, both in general and as a source of revenue?
The MTA acts too much like an ATM for Wall Street. Its debt service from bonding is too high. The state must greatly increase its funding for the MTA, which the Regional Plan Association has stated needs over $100 billion to bring it up to a high standard.
The MTA board should be less Wall Street and more strap hangers.
Congestion pricing is good as incentive to use public transit and as a source of revenue, but not the sole source of increasing revenue, which should also come from more progressive taxation.
I also favor free or reduced fares as an incentive to use public transit and relieve all the negative impacts of cars in the city, as many cities around the world are now doing.
20. What is your plan for ensuring that New York State’s economy is effectively positioned in the years ahead to create economic opportunity and address income inequality, and with regard to the growth of the upstate economy?
I am again calling for a Green New Deal for New York to rebuild the economy from the bottom up, with a priority on the communities that most need revitalization. The Green New Deal will revitalize the public sector, both services and infrastructure, including clean energy, mass transit, public housing, broadband, education, health care, and environmental protection. Public utilities and services are the pubic avenues for private commerce. Public provision of infrastructure and services that operate at cost and not for profit will lower the costs of living and doing business in New York.
Revitalizing the public sector will do much more for the economy and the business climate across the board than tax breaks and subsidies for special interests, which has been the bipartisan, pay-to-play, supply-side, trickle-down economic development policy for decades. Governor Cuomo has just taken it to a new level. The benefits of the trickle-down policy of “incentives” – subsidies, grants, and tax breaks for the rich and corporations – have not trickled down to working people or depressed cities, towns, and neighborhoods around the state. This policy has fed a pay-to-play culture of corruption where economic favors flow to big campaign contributors. When it is not an illegal quid-pro-quo bribe, it is still legalized bribery.
The Green New Deal is demand-side, bottom-up economic planning to raise income and living standards for working people and economically-depressed communities. This policy will increase effective demand and stimulate business expansion and jobs to meet the demand.
21. What is your view of recent federal policies as they affect New York? What should New York’s Governor do, going forward, to address those issues?
New York should conduct itself as a Sanctuary State to protect immigrants from federal persecution under the current administration. It should welcome refugees and immigrants in the spirit of the statement on the plaque at the Stature of Liberty. My platform has several planks detailing Sanctuary State policies at http://www.howiehawkins.org/issues_immigrants_rights.
Even worse than the racism and lies spewing from the mouths and tweets of President Trump and his minions in his administration are his actions that are undermining civil rights, reproductive freedom, environmental protection, economic regulations, and funding for necessary domestic programs. The state should respond by setting higher than federal standards.
Please use the space provided or a separate sheet of paper to elaborate on your positions on the issues contained in the previous pages. You may also provide additional information on any actions that you have taken or plan to take to advance your positions on these issues.
I would refer you to my campaign platform, which lays out in greater detail than any other gubernatorial candidate my policies. See http://www.howiehawkins.org/issues.
The news section of the website has all my media releases and op-eds:http://www.howiehawkins.org/news.
III. CAMPAIGN PROMISES MADE TO VOTERS (PAST AND CURRENT)
In addition to evaluating stances on the issues above, Citizens Union also assesses candidates on their current campaign promises and goals, and how they intend to approach them.
What are the top five promises you are making to the voters during this campaign?
Please feel free to use additional paper if the space provided is not sufficient, and to affix additional information such as a résumé, campaign brochure, or issue statements. We thank you very much for your response.
TOP FIVE 2018 CAMPAIGN PROMISES OR GOALS
1. 100% Clean Energy by 2030 – New York Off Fossil Fuels Act (NY OFF, )
2. Guaranteed Health Care – New York Health Act
3. Homes for All – Statewide rent control authority, home rule on rent regulations, meet the demand for affordable rental housing with new public housing that is high quality, mixed income, human scale, scatter site, and powered by clean energy
4. Great Public Schools for All – full funding, end high-stakes testing, stop charter expansion, desegregate, tuition/debt-free public college
5. Clean Government – ethics, election, and campaign finance reforms
IV. ETHICAL REPRESENTATION OF CONSTITUENTS
Citizens Union believes that all New Yorkers deserve to be represented by officials who work for the public interest and honor the public trust. With the corruption conviction of recent legislative leaders, we seek to endorse a candidate who will demonstrate that she/he will honor the full commitment of the oath of office, and always represent the public interest above all else.
Please tell us how you have and would continue to conduct the political affairs of this office in an upright manner, and maintain the public trust.
I co-founded the Green Party in the United States in 1984 and have run for office many times on its line to advance the public interest against a two-party system of corporate rule that is undemocratic and corrupted by special interests money. If I wanted to hold office for its own sake, I would have been a Democrat.
We have advanced our goals without winning many offices (although I have come as close as 48% of the vote). Our vote independent of the two major parties makes them compete for our voters. The 5% we received in 2014 for our gubernatorial ticket forced Cuomo to compete for our progressive voters. He has done so by adopting, or partially adopting, or at least talking about, our demands, from the fracking ban and the $15 minimum wage to tuition-free public college and criminal justice reforms. Of course, we want to win the offices we run for so our policies can be implemented with as little watering down as possible.
I would hold office the same way I have run for office. I would advance the policies I campaigned on because that is why I ran. It is one thing to compromise on legislation that advances the policies one is advocating in order to make some progress. It is another to adapt one’s position to please campaign donors.
I will also make myself regularly available to the people and the press for questioning. The public debate leading to a decision is more important for real democracy than the final vote on the decision itself.