(Newburgh, NY) Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for Governor, came to Newburgh today to discuss his opposition to fracking and the need to fully fund schools.
Hawkins said that the one televised debate for the Gubernatorial candidates next week in Buffalo was unfair to voters, who deserved the opportunity to fully hear from the candidates about their different visions for improving the state.
Hawkins is at 9% in the polls, and has been picking up endorsements from teacher and education groups, and more recently, from several Democratic clubs.
"The polls show that this has become a three-way race. People want change, better jobs, higher pay, more support for local schools. They are tired of being told that they can only choose between two parties that favor the very wealthy over working families," noted Hawkins.
Hawkins said that a tour last week of fracking sites in Pennsylvania reinforced for him the need to ban fracking in New York State.
"I have long called for a ban on fracking because gas is just another fossil fuel that contributes to global warming. But when you drive through communities that are experiencing fracking, and you hear and see the wells and truck traffic, you talk to people living nearby, it highlights why no one should have to live near a fracking well," said Hawkins.
"Cuomo has been telling voters that he will make his fracking decision based on science, but his actions have made it clear that he really means science fiction," added Hawkins.
While Cuomo has held off on giving the green light to the use of fracking for natural gas, his administration has pushed forward the construction of the infrastructure that supports fracking, including pipelines and storage facilities. His administration has also permitted fracking waste from Pennsylvania to be disposed of in New York, something even pro-fracking Astorino signed a law to prohibit in his own Westchester County.
Hawkins' Green New Deal would deal with the growing problem of global warming by transitioning New York to 100% clean renewable energy by 2030. Renewable energy is far more a jobs program than fracking. A study by Stanford and Cornell professors showed that if New York converted to 100% clean energy by 2030, 4.5 million middle-class jobs would be created. In contract, studies of job creation is states that have fracking, such as Ohio, showed only a slight increase in jobs.
While both Hawkins and his Republican opponent have raised concerns with the Common Core, Hawkins is a strong proponent of public education and claims his two main opponents support privatization of the school system. Hawkins and his Lt. Governor running mate Brian Jones, a school teacher in NYC for 9 years, have been endorsed by a number of teacher and parents organizations, as well as well-known education advocate Diane Ravitch.
Funding provided the Cuomo administration has been $9 billion less than required by court orders, leading to deep cuts in teachers in Syracuse and elsewhere. The state share of education funding has fallen to its lowest level in 65 years. Hawkins also wants to end segregation in the state's school system, which is the worst in the country. This requires increased public investment in affordable housing and anti-poverty programs.
“I want to fully fund public schools. We need to end the property tax cap and the Gap Elimination Adjustment, which has balanced the state budget on the backs of our children by cutting state aid to schools for the last five years. We need to stop competitive grants for school funding, which puts the poorer school districts at a further disadvantage. Many classrrooms are overcrowded. That's hurting children's education. Politicians are blaming teachers instead of themselves for these conditions," Hawkins continued.
"Policies supported by the Democratic and Republican parties in this state are creating a dual school system: separate and unequal. Cuomo's high-stakes testing regime is failing the underfunded schools and teachers of low-income children in order to privatize the schools as charters and downgrade the teaching profession. This agenda won't do anything to improve education for our students who have the greatest needs. It just punishes them for having those needs," Hawkins added.
- 30 -