Green gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins said today that Governor Cuomo had nothing to boast about this year's legislative accomplishments, which ended with a sputter as Cuomo repeatedly weakened the medical marijuana bill that highlighted the closing week.
Nothing was done about raising the minimum wage, not even the 25 cents speed up promoted by Speaker Silver. Lawmakers were happy to use Cuomo’s so-called deal with the WFP as an excuse to kill major items such as the Dream Act and campaign finance reform. Lawmakers largely punted on the controversy over education and the use of Common Core.
“Four consecutive austerity budgets featuring tax cuts for the rich and underfunding of schools and public services is nothing to boast about,” said Hawkins. “We can thank reforms made by former Governor Paterson for the budgets coming in on time. Cuomo may be delivering for his high-roller donors, but not for the working people of New York.”
“Shutting down the Moreland Commission before it had completed its work in exchange for a one-year pilot program for public campaign financing for the Comptroller's race that almost nobody likes were bad results on both ends of the deal,” Hawkins said.
“It has all been downhill for Cuomo since he got the same-sex marriage law through the Senate four years ago. And that was putting the finishing touches on that issue that Green Party officials in New Paltz ignited in 2004 by performing same-sex marriages,” added Hawkins.
Hawkins said that the legislature might have gotten better results if Governor Cuomo had left them alone.
“By butting in on the long-vetted and well-crafted Compassionate Care Act, Cuomo truncated the final medical marijuana bill,” he said. “Playing amateur doctor, he put himself between doctors and their patients and limited eligible diseases, modes of intake, and supply to the point where it might not meet the demand for the medicine.”
Hawkins said that if the Governor was serious about the 10-point Women's Equality Agenda he announced 18 months ago in his 2013 State of the State address, he would have backed bipartisan efforts to vote on the nine parts that have overwhelming majority support in both houses and then focus on flipping the Senate to Democratic hands to get the tenth abortion rights point adopted.
“Cuomo seems to prefer using these issues as campaign fodder for the election campaign instead of championing them during the legislative session when they could have begun helping women now, not next year maybe,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins also cited the failure of Cuomo to make any public effort to push for legislation to raise the minimum wage to the $10.10 and indexed to inflation, which he said last month he supports. “The minimum wage needs to be raised right now for low-wage workers because the rent won't wait,” said Hawkins who has called for $15 and indexed to productivity. Hawkins also supports allowing local governments to set a higher minimum wage to reflect local living costs.
The Green Party candidate for Lieutenant Governor, Brian Jones, a teacher and union member from New York City, added strong criticism of the temporary moratorium on including student performance on Common Core-aligned test scores in the state-mandated teacher evaluation system until 2017. "The teacher evaluation moratorium just delays the implementation of a fundamentally flawed policy that is more about punishing disadvantaged communities than educating their children," Jones said.
"Teacher evaluations do not address the root causes of poor performance by students and schools in disadvantaged communities, which are poverty, segregation, and underfunding," Jones explained. "High-stakes testing linked to Common Core is a set up. It is designed to fail our schools and privatize them into charters."
Hawkins said that if he was the governor, he would bring the legislature back into special session in the coming weeks to finish its work. He said he would have them address the minimum wage, the passable sections of the Women's Equality Agenda, the Dream Act, the Farmworkers Bill of Rights, and public campaign finance and ethics reform.