Platform Table of Contents
- A Green New Deal for New York
- Economic Democracy
- Sustainable Agriculture and Food Justice
- Environmental Protection
- Civil Rights and Racial Justice
- Criminal Justice Reform
- Workers Rights
- Immigrants Rights
- Women's Rights
- LGBT Rights
- Fair Elections
- End Corruption
A GREEN NEW DEAL FOR NEW YORK
DECENT JOBS FOR ALL
Public jobs for the unemployed in public works and public services to meet community-defined needs.
A state-funded and locally-planned full employment program.
LIVING WAGES FOR ALL
A state $15/hour minimum wage, indexed to productivity.
Home rule for municipalities to set a higher than state level minimum wage.
- Include tipped workers in the minimum wage increase.
Enforce minimum wage and labor laws. Increase funding and staffing for the Department of Labor in order to rapidly resolve the 14,000 case backlog of years old complaints about unpaid wages. End wage theft, which amounts to $1 billion a year in New York City alone.
LIVING INCOMES FOR ALL
A living income above poverty for all who cannot or should not work.
Built into the progressive personal income tax.
HEALTH CARE FOR ALL
A publicly-funded, single-payer health care program for all New Yorkers.
All medically necessary services covered. Everybody in. Nobody out.
Free at the point of delivery. No co-pays or deductibles. Just health care.
QUALITY EDUCATION FOR ALL
Fully fund public schools with an equitable state aid formula.
Eliminate the Gap Elimination Adjustment and the state-mandated local tax cap.
100% Foundation Aid for public schools.
Fully funded, full day, and developmentally appropriate Universal Pre-K and Kindergarten with certified and unionized educators.
Opt out of high-stakes testing for students, teachers, and schools.
Opt out of Common Core and Race To The Top.
Opt into common standards, curricula, and diagnostic tests written by professional teachers in the schools, not by outside corporate contractors.
Opt into teacher and school evaluation based on collaboration.
Opt into affirmative action to reduce school segregation by race and class, such as regional inter-district transfer programs.
State legislation to reduce class sizes and case loads.
Free Tuition at CUNY, SUNY, and Community Colleges.
AFFORDABLE HOUSING FOR ALL
- Repeal the Urstadt Law. Home rule on rent regulations.
Statewide income-based tax credits for renters.
Statewide income-based property tax circuit breaker for homeowners.
Provide rent stabilization coverage for all Mitchell-Lama and project-based Section 8 buildings that have left government supervision.
Moratorium on home foreclosures.
Require refinancing of mortgages at homes' current market values.
State funding for underfunded public housing authorities.
Build new high-quality, mixed-income public housing.
PUBLIC TRANSIT FOR ALL
Build an electrified rail and vehicle transportation system that includes convenient and affordable intra-urban mass transit, inter-urban rail for intermediate distances, and high-speed rail for long distances.
Fully fund the MTA capital program to maintain the good repair of the New York City region's mass transit system.
100% CLEAN ENERGY BY 2030
- Build in 15 years a full clean energy system based on:
- Energy production from distributed solar, wind, wave, tidal, hydro, and geothermal energy production, where every home, office, and factory is retrofitted to be a solar power producer;
- Energy storage from electrolytic hydrogen, battery, potential, and thermal energy;
- Transportation through electrified vehicles and rails;
- Heating and cooling by electricity-powered air- and ground-source heat pumps, heat exchangers, and backup electric resistance heaters;
- An interactive smart grid to match energy supply and demand and sales and purchases of distributed energy producers and consumers.
- No New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure.
- No new gas pipelines.
- No Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) export facilities.
- No railway tank cars, tank trucks, or liquid cargo barges carrying Bakken fracked shale oil or Alberta tar sands bitumen through New York State.
- No storage of natural gas or liquified propane or butane in the Seneca Lake salt caverns.
- No Nukes.
- An immediate shut down of Indian Point.
- A rapid phase out all New York nuclear power plants.
TAX THE RICH – SHARE THE REVENUES
By restoring the more progressive tax structure New York State had in the 1970s, we could increase revenues by about $30 billion a year. 95% of New Yorkers would get a tax cut by having the top 5% and particularly the top 1% pay the taxes they used to pay. $30 billion would add more than 20% to New York State's $140 billion budget. With $30 billion more in state revenue, we could restore full funding for public schools and colleges, pay for the state mandates on local governments through increased revenue sharing, cut regressive local property and sales taxes, and build the infrastructure and services of the Green New Deal.
Stop rebating the Stock Transfer Tax ($12 to $16 billion in recent years).
End corporate welfare ($7 billion a year).
Restore the more progressive personal and business income taxes of the 1970s ($8 billion a year).
More progressive estate taxes.
Cut regressive sales and property taxes.
- Circuit breaker on property taxes and rents.
State payment for state mandates on local governments.
Restore state revenue sharing with municipal governments to 8% of state revenues ($5 billion).
Create a state-owned bank to finance public projects and private businesses at lower cost than private banking. Between 35% and 40% of the cost of public projects is interest on borrowing. When the state owns the bank, it gets this interest back, which it can use finance more projects at less cost than borrowing from private investors. The state bank would be capitalized by the deposits of state tax revenues, a portion of state pension funds, and private individuals, businesses, and pension funds that want to invest in the future of New York. This capital would then be invested in productive ventures in New York State that benefit the people.
The state bank would partner with local community banks and credit unions in financing infrastructure projects and businesses, with a priority on cooperatives. It would also refinance the mortgages of homes facing foreclosure on a reduced-principal, fixed-rate, long-term affordable basis.
The Wall Street financial oligarchy uses its power to promote public austerity while it makes super-profits from public borrowing. Money is created by banks when they make loans. We can generate the credit to finance New York prosperity by forming our own state-owned bank. The Bank of North Dakota, the nation’s only publicly-owned state depository bank, has proven this model works. It has returned the state a profit every year since it was formed in 1919.
WORKER AND CONSUMER COOPERATIVES
State policy should support the development of unionized worker- and consumer-owned cooperatives in place of corporate welfare giveaways to investor-owned businesses. Cooperatives distribute the net income (“profit”) created by the co-ops' members in proportion to each members contribution. For worker co-ops the contribution is labor. For consumer co-ops the contribution is purchases. Co-ops therefore create a just and fair distribution of the net income of the business in contrast to investor-owned businesses where the investors capture all the profits.
The state bank should have a technical assistance arm to provide business planning, technical assistance, and mentoring for the development worker and consumer cooperatives.
The state should partner with labor unions in creating unionized co-ops that combine worker or consumer ownership with collective bargaining in a way makes the workplace more participatory and accountable to workers and protects the needs of workers as both owners and workers of the co-op.
Cooperatives are how we can own our own jobs because they locally owned, democratically controlled, and have no incentives to move jobs and capital out of state. Co-ops will uproot today's extreme income inequality where it is first generated, at the point of production in capitalist firms where owners and management take the net business income that workers created with their labor.
PUBLIC ENERGY SYSTEM
Investor-owned utilities and energy suppliers have utterly failed over the course of repeated energy crises since 1974 to convert to sustainable, locally-produced, clean energy. It is time to democratize the utilities and fossil-fuel industries under public ownership and democratic control.
The road to solar power is public power. We need a public energy system to realize the goal of 100% clean energy by 2030.
It is time to convert investor-owned utility companies, power providers, and fossil fuel distributors into a publicly-owned, democratically-managed, locally-based system of public power and fuel companies that are federated at the state level for statewide planning. The boards of local public utilities would be elected by the public (2/3) and their workers (1/3). The local utility boards would elect the state board.
The mission of the public energy system would be to convert to a clean renewable energy system for the least cost instead of for profit maximization. It would operated at cost for public benefit instead of for profit maximization for investors. The revenues from power and fuel sales would be reinvested in renewable energy production, conservation, and a just transition of income and benefit support and retraining for workers displaced by the phase out of fossil fuels and nuclear power.
UNIVERSAL BROADBAND AND DIGITAL DEMOCRACY
High-speed Internet service – also known as broadband – is a basic public necessity like electricity, water, and transportation infrastructure. Too many New Yorkers do not have access to affordable quality broadband services. Instead of a digital democracy, we have a digital divide where many, particularly in low-income communities, are unable to access the political, economic, and social resources of the Internet. People who do have broadband connections pay more for much poorer service than people in other developed nations. U.S. broadband quality, speed, and adoption rates are far lower than Asian and European nations. South Koreans have Internet speeds 200-times faster than we have for only $27 a month.
Because the U.S. broadband market is dominated by a small number of giant telecoms, broadband service here is slow, expensive, and inaccessible to many people. The telecoms are also using their political influence to destroy Net Neutrality and prevent competition from municipally-owned broadband systems.
Net Neutrality prohibits Internet service providers from discriminating against users based on the type of content they are seeking to access. Net neutrality is essential for the free and open communications necessary for a democracy. All people in a democratic society must have equal and open access to information and the means of communication. Democratic media in the digital age means that everyone should have access to all forms of electronic and digital media.
In order to provide universal access to affordable, quality broadband, New York State government should take an active role in promoting municipal broadband and Net Neutrality, expanding the spectrum available for unlicensed public use, and opposing monopolization of the telecom industry.
- Municipal Broadband and Free Municipal Wi-Fi
New York State should provide financing and technical assistance to help local governments build municipally-owned high-speed fiber-optic networks and free public Wi-Fi networks that provide affordable Internet, TV, and phone service for all with Net Neutrality. Municipal networks in the U.S. typically provide a superior and less expensive option to private networks operated by Internet service providers like Comcast and Time Warner. More than 400 towns and cities have or are building municipally-owned high-speed networks. Businesses as well as consumers benefit. Companies are moving to places like Chattanooga, Tennessee, for its public, high-capacity connectivity that is 50 times faster than corporate ISPs for under $70 a month.
- Expand the Open Spectrum Commons
New York State should urge the FCC to expand the high-quality spectrum available for unlicensed, public use. Expanding the open spectrum of public airwaves will make affordable public Wi-Fi possible, spurring innovation, unleashing the mobile Web, bridging the digital divide, and providing universal, affordable Internet access for all.
- Stop the Comcast/Time Warner Merger
The Governor should urge the Public Service Commission to stop the merger between Comcast and Time Warner, the two largest telecom companies in the U.S. The merger would give one company too much market power to raise prices and too much control over what information, news, shows, movies, and sports people can access on TV and the Internet. Such power increases the threat to Net Neutrality, which they oppose because they want to set up multi-tiered levels of service for the Internet like they do for Cable TV.
- Restore Net Neutrality
New York State should urge Congress and the Federal Communications Commission to restore Net Neutrality by designating broadband as a common-carrier telecommunications service under the law. This designation is the only way to establish the FCC's right to regulate the Internet and protect Net Neutrality.
In January 2014, a federal appeals court in Verizon v. FCC struck down rules that prohibit Internet service providers (ISPs) from restricting access to legal Web content because the FCC had not designated telecommunications services as common carriers. The court decision empowered ISPs to block or slow down access to its competitors, to bottom-tier users, and to websites whose political opinions it disagrees with. But the court also said that the FCC could set new Net Neutrality rules if it decides to reclassify ISPs as a "common carrier" telecommunications service like telephone lines instead of as an information service.
However, in May 2014, instead of designating ISPs as common carriers, the FCC proposed rules to allow discrimination online by ISPs. Giant telecoms like AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner, and Verizon would be able to set up multi-tiered Internet service provision. Big internet content providers like Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Netflix would pay higher fees for the fastest service and other users would be relegated to slower service tiers.
In order to restore Net Neutrality, the FCC, or Congress by an act of law, must designate Internet service providers as common carriers.
SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE AND FOOD JUSTICE
Food is a necessity and a fundamental human right. All people have a right to sufficient, safe, and nutritional food. Those who produce it have a right to a fair return for their labor. Food should be produced in an ecologically sustainable manner.
New York is a major agricultural state: 1st in yogurt, cottage cheese, cream cheese, and sour cream; 2nd in apples, wine, maple syrup, and cabbage; 3rd in milk, corn for silage, and grapes; 4th for tart cherries and pears. Most New York farms are family farms, with a 200 acre average that is about half the national average. Milk production accounts for nearly half of New York's agricultural sales.
New York's cities and farms depend on each other for food and markets. But less than 10% of NYS food production is sold direct to consumers.
Farmer and consumers are natural allies. The government should represent the interests of farmers and consumers instead of the corporate oligopolies of the food and agriculture industry. Giant vertically-integrated food and agricultural corporations stand in the middle marketing, processing, wholesaling, distributing, and retailing to make monopolistic profits by squeezing both farmers and consumers. Much can be done to more directly connect famers and consumers and minimize middleman costs.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that more than two million New Yorkers, 12% of the population, do not have enough money to meet their basic nutritional needs. Over one-third of New York's residents have incomes at or below 200% of the federal poverty level and may be eligible for federal food assistance programs such as SNAP. But these programs do not adjust for New York State's higher costs for housing, utilities and food.
A strong agricultural economy is the basis for revitalizing rural economies, repopulating rural communities, and supplying our cities with healthy food. Agriculture provides the value added that fuels commerce in the towns. It should fuel the expansion of clean green manufacturing based on biodegradable food, fuel, and fiber feedstocks. Agriculture maintains the rural landscape that is the foundation for tourism and recreation, including hunting and fishing.
SUPPORT FAMILY FARMS
- Guarantee a Living Income for Working Famers: Commit to ensuring that every working farmer gets a fair return on the their labor and earns a living income.
- Empower Family Farmers in Marketing and Processing Agricultural Products: Enact reforms to enable farmers to collectively bargain with firms that market and process agricultural product, including reforms of agricultural cooperative laws to enable democratic farmer control of marketing and processing cooperatives.
- Tax Relief for Farmers: Increase state revenue sharing of more progressive personal and business income taxes, with business tax loopholes eliminated, in order to reduce local property and sales taxes, which are regressive taxes that hit farmers especially hard. Property taxes should only pay for local property-related services (local police, fire, garbage, snow plowing). Schools and other public works and services should be paid for mainly by progressively graduated personal and business income taxes.
- Phase Out CAFOs: Corporate factory farming in Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFPs) is driving family farms off the land. CAFOs undermine small, diversified, farms where free-range poultry and livestock are part of a sustainable farm ecosystem producing for local consumers. CAFOs are negative for the environment, food safety, public health, the ethical treatment of animals, nearby property values, and rural economic prosperity.
- End Corporate Farming: Prohibit non-farm corporations from owning and controlling farms.
- New Farmer Training: Establish a new farmer training program supported by departments of Labor and Education that compensates existing farmers as mentors and teachers.
- Land and Financing for New Famers: Establish a program to enable new farmers to affordably finance and purchase land and equipment to start new farms, including urban farms.
- Enact a Farmworkers Bill of Rights: Extend to farmworkers the same rights under labor law as other workers, including A Day of Rest, Overtime Pay, Collective Bargaining Protections, Disability Insurance, Unemployment Insurance, Child Labor Protections, and Occupational Safety and Health Standards. Corporate farms compete unfairly against working farmers by being allowed to exploit cheap labor at sub-poverty wages and benefits and unsafe working conditions.
- Farmland Protection Fund: Increase funding for the New York State Farmland Protection Fund to at least $100 million a year. Fully payback Farmland Protection Funds “swept” into the general fund in previous years. The Farmland Protection Fund pays farmers by purchasing development rights in order to permanently protect their land for agriculture. Farmers reinvest these funds into their farms. The program is needed to protect farmland from development on the edge of urban areas. Urban sprawl is reducing New York farmland at a rate of about 10% per decade.
- Environmental Protection Fund: Increase funding for the Environmental Protection Fund. EPF funds programs like the Farmland Protection Program, Conservation Partnership Program, and the Agricultural Nonpoint Source Program that help farmers protect their land from real estate development and enhance water quality.
- Ban Fracking: Protect New York farms from the air, water, and land pollution, climate change, and degradation of rural infrastructure and property values that hydrofracking of shale formations for natural gas would bring to rural upstate New York.
EXPAND AND IMPROVE MARKETS FOR FARM PRODUCTS
- Collective Bargaining by Farmers: Support farm associations to bargain collectively with large buyers (public and corporate) for fair contracts for their products.
- State Procurement of Local Farm Products: Require state and state-funded institutions to buy more food grown on New York farms, including schools, hospitals, prisons, senior and child care centers
- Regional Food Processing and Distribution: Increase state financing for regional food processing and distribution facilities.
- Expand the Certified Raw Milk Market: Establish a Certified Raw Milk Program to regulate the production, consumption, marketing, distribution, and off-farm retail sale of raw milk.
- Expand Green Manufacturing: Promote green manufacturing that relies on locally produced biodegradable food, fuel, and fiber.
RE-LEGALIZE INDUSTRIAL HEMP
- Enable Hemp Research: Pass state legislation enabling New York agricultural schools to research industrial hemp under new provisions in the 2014 federal farm bill.
- Re-legalize hemp in New York.
- Defend Hemp Growers: Require the state Attorney General to defend New York hemp growers prosecuted by the federal government.
- Demand that the federal government re-legalize hemp.
INCREASE CONSUMER ACCESS TO HEALTHY FOOD
- Public School Education: Mandate and fund a food, agriculture, and nutrition curriculum for K-12 public school students, including a home economics curriculum that includes the knowledge and skills to purchase and prepare fresh foods and access to some form of agriculture: a school or community garden, or urban or rural farm.
- Community Food Projects Competitive Grant Program (CFP): Increase funding for community food projects, including Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs), food cooperatives, urban farms, and community gardens.
- New York Healthy Food and Health Communities Fund: Increase funding to support the development of healthy food markets and cooperatives in underserved communities.
- Farm to Table Program: Establish a program to enable farmers to sell fresh foods directly to childcare facilities and senior meal programs.
- Soda Tax: Enact a sugary beverage tax, with revenues used to fund nutrition, food, health and agriculture programs.
- Urban Farms: Establish a program to support the expansion organic food production by urban farms and community gardens.
- GMO Labeling: Pass the bill requiring labeling of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) in food. Consumer have a right to know.
- GMO Moratorium: Apply the Precautionary Principle to GMOs and place a state moratorium on them until safety can be demonstrated by long-term studies on health impact, genetic drift, pest resistance, biodiversity, and soil and other ecosystems.
TRANSITION TO ORGANIC AGRICULTURE
- Ban Neonicotinoids: Ban the use of neonicotinoid pesticides that are contributing to the Colony Collapse Disorder die-off of bees, which are necessary for crop pollination.
- Ban Antibiotics in Animal Feed: Antibiotics should only be used to treat illness and injury. Overuse of antibiotics is creating antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria that endanger human and non-human animal health.
- Organic Agriculture Transition Plan: Develop a plan to encourage and help farmers transition to organic farming, including research, training, subsidies and incentives to support farmers' transition to organic agriculture while natural systems of soil fertility and pest control are being restored. Organic agriculture should be promoted to protect the environment and the health of food producers and consumers, and to fight climate change by sequestering carbon in revitalized soil ecosystems.
- Agriculture School Support: Direct SUNY agricultural schools and Cornell, New York State's Land Grant University, to focus education and research on organic food production by family farms and community gardens.
- State Procurement: Use state purchasing power to provide markets for organic farms.
FAIR LABOR PRACTICES FOR FARM WORKERS
- Enact a Farmworkers Bill of Rights: Extend to farmworkers the same rights under labor law as other workers, including A Day of Rest, Overtime Pay, Collective Bargaining Protections, Disability Insurance, Unemployment Insurance, Child Labor Protections, and Occupational Safety and Health Standards. Corporate farms compete unfairly against working farmers by being allowed to exploit cheap labor at sub-poverty wages and benefits and unsafe working conditions.
- Halt the ICE Raids: Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has dramatically increased workplace and community raids in recent years. The detentions of immigrant workers is not only devastating for their families, it is disrupting the labor of migrants and immigrants on which many farms depend. New York State should do all it can to get ICE to halt these raids and grant undocumented farmworkers the opportunity to live and work here legally and documented farmworkers the opportunity to work and live here without harassment.
- Drivers Licenses for Undocumented Workers: This policy will promote general public safety as well as enable farmworkers to get to work safely.
- Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program: Increase funding to fund and support food banks, food pantries, soup kitchens and emergency shelters in New York State.
- Increase SNAP Benefits: Use the USDA’s Low-Cost Food Plan, rather than the Thrifty Food Plan, as the basis for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), which will increase their purchasing power by about 30 percent.
- Raise the Maximum SNAP Shelter Deduction: Adjust SNAP benefits to variable regional housing costs.
- Increase Child Nutrition Funding: Increase supplemental funding for the various federal child nutrition programs, including Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and school meals.
- Increase Funding for Meals on Wheels for Senior Citizens.
We address many environmental issues in the Green New Deal and Sustainable Agriculture sections of this platform. Much more must be done.
Restore Funding and Staffing for the Department of Environmental Conservation: DEC is down about 900 positions since Governor Pataki took office and 1000 since its high point. The number of responsibilities (statutory and regulatory) have significantly increased during that period. Restore DEC staffing to at least its high point and perhaps higher in order for it to meet its responsibilities. Stop contracting out DEC operations to private, for-profit firms. Outsourcing reduces accountability and quality, thus raising costs for the state, the environment, and public health.
No Desalinization Plants on the Hudson River: Stop United Water's proposed rate-increasing, water-polluting, habitat-destroying, energy-intensive desalinization plant at Haverstraw Bay in Rockland County. We can better secure sustainable, clean, and affordable water through conservation, land-use planning, green infrastructure, watershed protection, sewage treatment, smart water metering, and usage-based pricing.
Citizen Enforcement of Environmental Laws: Amend the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) to enable broader categories of citizens and environmental groups to bring litigation to enforce environmental regulations.
End Solid Waste Incineration: Garbage incineration is a financial drain as well as a source of dangerous environmental pollution. Rapidly phased out and ban waste incineration.
A Zero Waste Solid Waste Policy: Enforce existing laws related to solid waste and recycling. Promote reuse and reduction. Oppose incineration and landfills. Require packaging to be reusable if possible, or at least recycable. Require waste manufacturers to be legally and financially responsible for waste disposal. Adopt Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) legislation (also known as product stewardship) to engage manufacturers and importers in the design of products and packaging to reduce waste and toxicity and remove the burden from government and taxpayers.
Provide state technical assistance and financing for the collection and marketing of recycables, including the construction and operation of Material Recovery Facilities. Promote volume-based fees for garbage collection, with recycling for free. Ban waste haulers and municipalities from sending recyclable materials for disposal and instead require recyclables to be source separated and transported to recycling processing facilities.
Establish a secure funding stream to fund sustainable solid waste programs for the long term, create new jobs, and reduce greenhouse gas emission reductions. Licensing fees, facility permit fees and surcharges on disposal should all be used to provide dedicated funding. The state should provide technical and financial assistance to enable communities to implement curbside pickup of compostable materials.
Protect Wetlands: Enact legislation to provide regulatory protection of all wetland. Direct DEC staff to update state wetland maps to reflect those wetlands that were not identified when the first state maps were created with old 1980s technology.
Ban All Terrain Vehicles from State Parks
Protection from Toxic Chemicals: Almost 80,000 chemicals are sold in the United States. We are exposed to many of them on a daily basis in household cleaning agents, personal care products, cosmetics, pesticides, building materials, and packaging. Most remain unexamined and unregulated. The odds are certain that some of these chemicals are very harmful.
Require manufacturers to provide information regarding the chemicals contained in consumer products.
Expand research into the impacts of chemicals used in producing goods on the environment and public health. Apply the Precautionary Principle to these chemicals – don't use until proven safe – instead of the current safe until proven otherwise practice. New York State can set an example and begin this research. But the problem is so massive that the federal government must support it. New York State should lobby for comprehensive federal action.
CIVIL RIGHTS AND RACIAL JUSTICE
New York State is the most segregated state in the nation. It has the most racially segregated schools and housing. This segregation has been growing since the 1970s.
Among the U.S. metropolitan regions with the largest populations of people of color, New York City ranks 3rd in black/white segregation and 2nd in both Latino/white segregation and Asian/white segregation. By another index of the most black/white segregation in the 100 largest U.S. metros, New York City ranks 2nd, Buffalo 6th, Syracuse 11th, Rochester 21st, and Albany 37th. Among small city metros with a population between 100,000 and 1 million, Syracuse is the most segregated in the nation.
Segregation by class is also high and growing in New York State, which has the most income inequality of any state in the nation. The share of all income going to the top 1% in New York State has tripled since 1980 from 10% to 30% or more in the decade since 2005. The New York City metro ranks 1st in residential segregation by income in the nation. Over half of all families in the New York City metro live in predominantly low-income or upper-income neighborhoods. Upper-income families are more segregated from others than low-income families are. Income segregation among black and Latino families is now much higher than among white families, which means that low-income communities of color suffer more than ever from a double segregation by race and class.
Social science research is conclusive that the race and class school achievement gap is the result of poverty concentrated by race and class segregation into disadvantaged communities and schools that are under-resourced. Municipal and school district lines that divide property-poor from property-rich communities perpetuate the segregation and under-funding of schools in disadvantaged communities.
All children from all backgrounds benefit from attending desegregated schools. Achievement for students of all races and income levels increases for students in desegregated schools.
Desegregation does not mean merely dispersing poor children into affluent communities. It also means empowering disadvantaged communities with the wealth and resources they need to truly control their own schools and community development. All children deserve the same small classes, full curricula and resource-rich education that elites receive, and they deserve it without being subject to school closings, gentrification and displacement.
New York State has failed to pursue policies to desegregate our schools and housing after it abandoned a brief effort in the late 1960s and early 1970s in the face of resistance from upscale white communities. Instead, it has accepted separation as a given and tolerated systematic racial bias in the real estate and mortgage markets through anemic enforcement of fair housing and anti-discrimination laws. The state has purported to improve education in segregated poor communities through a test-and-punish school reform regime that does not improve education for children in disadvantaged communities, but only punishes them for being segregated and poor. High-stakes testing defines the students, teachers, and schools in disadvantaged communities as “failed.” Schools are privatized as charters. Many teachers flee to find job security in more advantaged communities. Students defined as failures are pushed out of the schools and into streets in a school-to-streets-to-prison pipeline that has given our nation the highest rate of incarceration rates in the world.
The young people in these hyper-segregated poor communities of color are targeted by law enforcement for placement in the criminal justice system. In New York City, over half of prison admissions come from low-income neighborhoods with less than one-fifth of the adult population. Blacks and whites use illegal drugs at the same rates, but black men are 11 times more likely than white men to be incarcerated for a drug offense in New York State. 18% of the state population is black, but 68% of the drug admissions to prison are black. 18% of the state population is Latino, but 26% of drug admissions to prison are Latino. African-Americans and Latinos comprise over 94% of the drug offenders in New York State prisons.
60 years after Brown v. Board of Education declared that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal” and 46 years after U.S. Fair Housing Act outlawed discrimination in housing, it is time to for a new commitment to desegregation.
Everyone has stake in civil rights and racial justice. A society increasingly polarized into affluent gated communities and impoverished ghettoes puts everyone's freedom, safety, and material security at risk. No one is assured of freedom, safety, and security until everyone is.
We call here for two major civil rights initiatives in New York State to end discrimination and desegregate housing and schools. We address the removal of race and class disparities in the criminal justice system in the Criminal Justice Reform section of the platform.
CIVIL RIGHTS DEPARTMENT
A cabinet level Civil Rights Department within the executive branch of state government should be established. Historical experience demonstrates that civil rights enforcement within other government departments and agencies with multiple missions gets sacrificed in order to meet other objectives. The Civil Rights Department should be constituted as a law enforcement agency with sufficient resources to carry out its mission of enforcing anti-discrimination laws and desegregation initiatives. It should be given an authoritative legal mandate, an independent funding source, the power to streamline procedures and cut across government agency jurisdictions, and the responsibility to recommend programs reduce race and class segregation and disparities in employment, education, housing, criminal justice, and other areas. In education, it should immediately address racial and class bias in school attendance zones within school districts and support programs for race and class desegregation across existing school district boundaries.
NEW PUBLIC HOUSING FOR DESEGREGATION
In the short term, full and equitable funding of public schools can provide some help to segregated schools in disadvantaged communities. But equitable funding is not sufficient. The longer term objective must be diverse, desegregated schools. The long distances that separate many low-income communities of color from more affluent communities make school integration logistically impractical and burdensome in many places within the existing patterns of residential segregation as they have developed. We therefore need a program to desegregate communities residentially.
We call for a major new public housing program to help desegregate residential patterns that would complement strong enforcement of fair housing laws. Unlike the old large-scale projects that concentrated poverty and minorities in poor communities of color, the new public housing should be built in the cities and the suburbs as humanly-scaled, scatter-site, high-quality projects that are mixed income and ethnicity. They should also be green, producing more clean energy than they use through solar and wind power and ground-source heating and cooling and carbon negative through carbon-sequestering building materials and living roofs and walls. This new public housing program will be a jobs program, an affordable housing program, and a clean energy program as well as a desegregation program. Its projects will improve the quality of life in every community in which they are built.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
"Equal Justice Under Law" is engraved on the U.S. Supreme Court building. But New York State is among the states with the highest race and class disparities in arrests, convictions, and imprisonment in the United States, which has the most prisoners and highest incarceration rates in the world by far. The many costs of these disparities hit communities of color and the working class particularly hard. From the "war on drugs" to "broken windows" theory to "stop and frisk" to arrest quotas for police officers, policing practices in New York State have targeted poor communities of color for grossly disproportionate arrests, convictions, and incarceration. It is time for state government to redress this failure to guarantee equal justice under law.
TRUTH, JUSTICE, AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION
The Governor should appoint a Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission charged with examining and addressing the impact of the War on Drugs and Mass Incarceration in New York State, including the devastating and lingering impact on people and communities of color. The Commission would assess the impact, hear from the people affected, and recommend policies to end mass incarceration and repair its damages.
Relegalize, regulate, and tax marijuana.
END THE “WAR ON DRUGS”
Relegalize, regulate, and tax drugs, starting with marijuana and heroin. Treat drug abuse as a health problem, not a criminal problem. Drug treatment on demand, not mass incarceration. Save lives from the epidemic of heroin overdose deaths by allowing opioid and heroin addicts to seek medical treatment instead potentially deadly fixes in the unregulated underground drug economy.
FREE PRISONERS OF THE WAR ON DRUGS
Freedom and amnesty for all drug war prisoners currently serving time in prison or on parole for non-violent drug offenses. Re-invest the savings from reduced incarceration into re-entry support for former prisoners and reparations for the communities most damaged by mass incarceration.
RAISE THE AGE
New York State should raise the age of adult criminal responsibility to 18. New York and North Carolina are the last two states that automatically send children who turn 16 into the adult criminal justice system. More than 30,000 youth were treated as adults in New York's criminal justice system in 2013. More than 600 children from 13 to 15 years old were also sent into the adult criminal justice system for certain offenses last year. Children's brains, characters, and personalities are still developing. They should be sent into the juvenile justice system for offenses. Children incarcerated in adult facilities are more likely to suffer physical and emotional abuse. Children prosecuted as adults return to prison at higher rates than those prosecuted in juvenile courts. Treating children as adults in the criminal justice system undermines the goal of rehabilitating youth and protecting public safety.
EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR ALL PRISONERS
Education opportunities for all incarcerated individuals, from basic literacy and numeracy to GED to college courses. Re-establish Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) eligibility for prisoners. Include prisoners in tuition-free CUNY and SUNY.
BAN SOLITARY CONFINEMENT
The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture declared in 2012 that solitary confinement can amount to torture as defined in Article 1 of the Convention Against Torture. Enact the Humane Alternatives to Long-Term (HALT) Solitary Confinement bill. The HALT bill would establish residential rehabilitation units (RRUs) as an alternative to isolated confinement. RRUs would provide additional programs, therapy, and support to address underlying needs and causes of behavior, with 6 hours per day of out-of-cell programming plus one hour of out-of-cell recreation. The bill would also enhance due process protections before placement in RRUs, create a clear process for release from RRUs, and mandate greater training for correctional officers working in RRUs or adjudicating disciplinary hearings.
BAN THE BOX
End the practice of employers and public colleges such as SUNY using criminal history to screen applicants. No evidence suggests that past criminal histories of students are relevant risk factors that affect the rate of crime on campuses. A Ban the Box law will stop the practice of automatically disqualifying applicants who are fully qualified. Employers would be prohibited from asking a potential hire to check a box on the initial job application indicating if he or she has a criminal history. Employers would have the right to know an applicant’s criminal history, but the inquiry would be deferred until a conditional offer of employment. With over one-fourth of American adults having an arrest or conviction, a Ban the Box law will open up job opportunities to many in our communities who are now excluded.
VOTING RIGHTS FOR FELONS
End the loss of voting rights for felons and parolees. Denying voting rights is not much of a punishment. Encouraging felons to participate in civic affairs can be part of rehabilitation and reintegration into society after serving time.
SAFE PAROLE ACT
Establish a transparent and accountable parole system that enables inmates to earn parole by successfully completing rehabilitative and educational programs.
STATEWIDE PUBLIC DEFENDERS OFFICE
Full funding for a statewide public defenders office, administered by an independent public defense commission, to guarantee the right to quality counsel.
RIGHT TO A TRIAL BY A JURY OF PEERS
Change state law so that defendants in cities have the same right as defendants in towns to a jury of their peers from the same municipal jurisdiction.
BAN WARRANTLESS SURVEILLANCE BY DRONES
Prohibit warrantless drone surveillance in New York airspace that violates our Fourth Amendment right to freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.
ALTERNATIVES TO INCARCERATION
Probation or work release for paying fines, victim restitution, and community service. Work release and education release for prisoners preparing for re-entry into society.
SUPPORT WORKERS' RIGHT TO ORGANIZE UNIONS AND BARGAIN COLLECTIVELY
Extend the right to majority card-check recognition of union bargaining status to all New York workers, with the right of new unions to submit a first contract to binding arbitration at the request of the union.
Enact legislation to make New York a Just Cause state where workers cannot be fired at will but only for just cause, which is the standard in most of the industrialized world.
KEEP THE TRIBOROUGH AMENDMENT
Oppose proposals to repeal the Triborough Amendment to the Taylor Law. The 1967 Taylor Law (Public Employees Fair Employment Act) permits public employees to organize unions, but denies them the right to strike. Management had little incentive to bargain in good faith with public employee unions that had no right to strike until the 1982 Triborough Amendment to the Taylor Law. The Triborough Amendment rebalanced the power between management and public employees by providing that when there is an impasse in negotiations when a contact expires, the terms of the previous contract continue. Arbitration (binding for police and fire, advisory for others) is employed to help resolve the dispute. If the Triborough Amendment were repealed, management would have no incentive to negotiate a fair contract because it could then change the contract as it saw fit, leaving the workers and their unions with no legal recourse.
Enact a Pay Equity law to insure that workers are paid equal pay for work of comparable worth. Jobs traditionally done by women and people of color have been systematically underpaid. This reform will end this institutionalized discrimination against women and minorities.
PAID FAMILY LEAVE INSURANCE
A minimum of twelve weeks paid family leave for each newborn or adopted child, and for taking care of ill family members.
CHILD CARE AND ELDER CARE
Subsidized, high quality child care and elder care for all who need it.
A GUARANTEED ADEQUATE INCOME
A guaranteed adequate annual income for all, indexed to inflation, which will bring both families and individuals up and out of poverty.
GUARANTEED RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS
Establish a New York State system of Guaranteed Requirement Accounts that provide a return of at least 3 percent guaranteed by the state government. All workers would be required to contribute 2.5 percent of their income to a government account with a 2.5 percent employer match. This supplement to Social Security and other retirement plans and savings is needed to address the retirement crisis where most people approaching retirement face a future of poverty or near poverty. Three-fourths of workers nearing retirement age have less than one year's income in their retirement accounts. Half of New York workers do not have any employer-sponsored retirement plan.
LABOR LAW PROTECTIONS FOR FARMWORKERS
Extend to farmworkers the same rights under labor law as other workers, including A Day of Rest, Overtime Pay, Collective Bargaining Protections, Disability Insurance, Unemployment Insurance, Child Labor Protections, and Occupational Safety and Health Standards.
LABOR LAW PROTECTIONS FOR PRISONERS
Enact legislation to end the super-exploitation of prison labor at pennies per hour, which undercuts the wages of workers and earnings of businesses outside the prison system. The prison labor system as it exists now is akin to slavery and the prison labor camps in other authoritarian countries. Work done by prisoners can be part of rehabilitation and enable prisoners to acquire job skills, support their families, and have savings upon release. Work done by prisoners for private contractors and for public services should be paid prevailing wages. Prison workers should have all the protections of labor law, including the right to organize unions.
PROTECT THE SCAFFOLD SAFETY LAW
Construction work in New York State is made safer by the Scaffold Safety Law, which holds employers accountable when workers are injured or killed because employers cut corners on the safety of people working at heights.
WORKER-INSPECTORS TO ENFORCE WORKPLACE HEALTH AND SAFETY
Enact state legislation to establish the right of workers to enforce safety and health regulations in a program that trains and certifies workers to be on-the-job inspectors in every workplace. Worker-inspectors would be protected from employer reprisals and have the power to
- Shut down hazardous operations.
- Enforce the right of every worker to refuse unsafe work.
- Investigate incidents to uncover their root causes and to force the implementation of their findings,
- Block the introduction of new chemicals untested for their impacts on human health and the environment.
OSHA is too underfunded and understaffed by the federal government to adequately protect workers and communities. Because workers know their work sites, worker-inspectors would be better able to protect the workforce and the community from industrial hazards and accidents.
Establish a Just Transition Income Support Program to compensate all workers whose jobs are eliminated by steps taken to protect the environment. Displaced workers would receive full income and benefits as they make the transition to alternative work.
NEW YORK DREAM ACT
DREAM stands for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors. The New York DREAM Act would enable 4,500 undocumented students who graduate from high school each year to pursue a college education. 146,000 undocumented youth now in New York will benefit from this law. It would allow undocumented students who meet in-state tuition requirements to access state financial aid and scholarships for higher education. It establishes a DREAM Fund Commission to raise private funds for a college scholarship program for children of immigrants.
PERMIT UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS TO AQUIRE DRIVERS LICENSES
This measure is a matter of public safety as well as equal justice under law.
MAKE NEW YORK A SANCTUARY STATE
Prohibit the use of public funds in New York State to enforce federal immigration laws.
Direct state police and state employees to not inquire about about a person's immigration status in the course of performing their duties.
These policies will make it safe for immigrant crime victims and witnesses to report criminals to the police and help bring them to justice.
FAIR LABOR PRACTICES FOR FARMWORKERS
Extend to farmworkers, most of them immigrants, the same rights under labor law as other workers, including A Day of Rest, Overtime Pay, Collective Bargaining Protections, Disability Insurance, Unemployment Insurance, Child Labor Protections, and Occupational Safety and Health Standards.
ENANCT THE WOMEN'S EQUALITY AGENDA
Governor Cuomo and the state legislature have failed two years in a row to adopt these common sense reforms that are needed immediately.
Pay Equity – Equal Pay for Equal Work: Outlaws workplace wage secrecy policies and increases damages for violations to 300% of unpaid wages.
Strengthening the Law Against Sexual Harassment: Extends the law to every workplace.
Attorney’s Fees for Employment, Credit, and Housing Sex Discrimination Cases: Enables litigants who win a sex discrimination case to collect attorney’s fees.
Ending Familial Status Discrimination in Employment: Extends the state law against familial status discrimination in housing and credit to employment.
Ending Discrimination in Housing based on Domestic Violence Victim Status and Source of Income: Ends discrimination and evictions against victims of domestic violence and users of Section 8 rental assistance.
End Prosecution of Victims of Domestic Violence for “Violating” their own Order of Protection: Ends the arrests of protected parties when a respondent violates an order of protection, or when a protected party appropriately contacts a respondent.
Remote Testimony by Domestic Violence Victims: Pilot program to allow domestic violence victims to testify remotely.
Strengthening Laws against Human Trafficking: Better protection to survivors of human trafficking, especially minors, by treating survivors as victims and increasing penalties to punish offenders.
Ending Pregnancy Discrimination: Requires employers to provide reasonable accommodation to pregnant workers.
Safeguarding Reproductive Health: Includes Roe v. Wade protections of women's health and right to abortion care not in current New York State law.
EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT
Enact an Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution of New York State.
Allow Medicaid funding for abortions.
Make emergency contraception available over the counter regardless of age.
- Enact the "Boss Bill" to prohibit an employer from taking adverse action against an employee because the employee or their dependent made a reproductive decision that conflicts with the employer's personal or religious beliefs.
15% of all women live below the federal poverty line. Mothers are now the primary breadwinners in four out of ten American households, but 31% of female-headed families live below the poverty line. 70% of single mothers working full time do not earn enough to provide basic economic security, defined as being able to meet basic expenses without public assistance. 60% of single women fall below the basic economic security standard. A program to provide economic security for working mothers, women, and all New Yorkers should include:
Jobs for all willing and able to work, with public jobs for the unemployed in public works and public services to meet community-defined needs.
A state $15/hour minimum wage, indexed to productivity.
A guaranteed adequate income above poverty for all who cannot or should not work.
Education in lieu of work requirements for people participating in TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families).
Exempting women from TANF work requirements if they have children under five.
Quality, affordable childcare for all who need it.
A minimum of twelve weeks paid family leave for each newborn or adopted child, and for taking care of ill family members.
ENACT THE GENDER EXPRESSION NON-DISCRIMINATION ACT (GENDA)
GENDA will ensure transgender and gender non-conforming people have equal protections in education, employment, Housing, Credit, and Public Accommodations (including banks, bus stations, court rooms, hospitals, hotels, restaurants, libraries).
OUTLAW SEXUAL ORIENTATION CONVERSION EFFORTS
LGBT youth do not need to be "cured" from being who they are. But they do need to be protected from dangerous “conversion” practices, which have created serious negative health consequences, including social withdrawal, depression, and suicide.
ENACT THE CHILD-PARENT SECURITY ACT (CPSA)
Current New York laws unfairly and unnecessarily burden families seeking to have children through the now common practice of gestational surrogacy--where the carrier has no genetic connection to the child. The law must be changed in light of recent medical advances so that New York families can pursue a safe, regulated surrogacy arrangement in their own state that secures the parental relationships of children who are conceived and born with the assistance of egg or sperm donors or gestational carriers.
RESTORE STATE FUNDING FOR HOMELESS YOUTH SHELTERS
Governor Cuomo's first state budget in 2011 cut state aid for homeless youth shelters, including those that serve LGBT youth, who account for about 40% of all homeless youth in New York City. These shelters should be funded at the level necessary to meet the need.
RESTORE FUNDING FOR THE AIDS INSTITUTE
When Governor Cuomo unveiled his “progressive agenda” for 2013, his budget cut funding for the AIDs Institute in the Office of Public Health. Although the number of HIV/AIDS deaths has been reduced in New York State over the last decade, the spread of the HIV virus is still at the level of a generalized epidemic. Because it is spreading most rapidly in low-income and marginalized groups, less than 40% of New Yorkers with HIV are fully virally suppressed. The Aids Institute has served as a model for public health in the nation. HIV clinical services and care coordination providers increasingly serve a larger constituency of low-income people with chronic conditions. The AIDS Institute has helped make this transition successful both for consumers and providers. With NYS Medicaid payments increasingly handled by private Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) instead of the state directly, the AIDS Institute is needed as an independent monitor of MCOs so that health care is not cut for people living with HIV and AIDS. The AIDS Institute provides critically needed prevention and harm reduction programs for people at risk for HIV/AIDS. The experience in the AIDS Institute can also be applied to the growing epidemics of Hepatitis and STDs, which are prevalent in the same populations with high rates of HIV infection.
PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION IN THE LEGISLATURE
Replace the two-party system of corporate rule with multi-party democracy. End single-member-district, winner-take-all system that creates one-party district and a two-party legislature. Adopt proportional representation for the state Assembly and Senate in order to give every party legislative representation in proportion to the vote it receives.
INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING FOR EXECUTIVE OFFICES
Elect statewide executive offices (Governor/Lt. Governor, Comptroller, Attorney General, U.S. Senators) by ranked choice voting. Voters rank candidate in order of preference: 1, 2, 3, etc. If nobody wins over 50% in the first count, the last place candidate is eliminated and that candidate's first choice ballots are distributed to their second choice. This instant runoff process continues until a candidate receives over a majority of votes. Under winner take all elections, voters have the incentive to vote for a lesser evil rather than their most favored candidate because they are afraid it would help the candidate the like the least. Instant runoff voting enables voters to vote for their first choice without fear of helping the candidate they most oppose.
FULL PUBLIC CAMPAIGN FINANCING
Enact the Clean Money bill for full public campaign financing.
END CORPORATE PERSONHOOD AND THE MONEY IS SPEECH DOCTRINE
Memorialize the US Congress to support House Joint Resolution 29, the We The People Amendment, an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to establish that only human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights, including the right to vote, 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.
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.
100% VOTER REGISTRATION
Make it is the responsibility of state government to register all qualified voters, as over 30 nations do. Automatic voter registration is one of the most powerful predictors of high voting turnout levels. U.S. voter turnout is among the lowest in the world. In 2012, New York State ranked 44th in the United States in voter turnout.
NO TO TOP-TWO PRIMARY SYSTEM
Senator Schumer and corporate elites have been promoting the top-two primary system. A top-two primary is an all-parties primary in which only the top two finishers stay on the ballot for the general election, even if they are from the same party. The top-two primary is an anti-democratic system that is designed to eliminate independent third party challengers to the two-party-system of corporate rule. It was designed by elites to eliminate independent challenges to the two-party system in the primary election, before the general election campaign begins. In Louisiana, Washington state, and California where it has been used, it has very effectively eliminated independent third party candidates from general election ballots.
30 state legislators have been indicted or pushed out of office for ethics violations since 1999, including 11 since Governor Cuomo took office in 2011. Cuomo promised in his 2010 campaign to establish an independent ethics commission. Instead, we got the Joint Commission on Public Integrity (JCOPE) and the Legislative Ethics Commission (LEC), both of which are compromised by segmented jurisdictions and leadership appointed by and staffing drawn from staffs of the very politicians they are supposed to monitor. Then in 2014 Cuomo shut down the Moreland Commission to investigate public corruption before it could complete its work. We need strong ethics reforms to end this epidemic of corruption.
RECONVENE THE MORELAND COMMISSION
Bring the Moreland Commission back to finish the investigations it began. Give it the funding it needs and the autonomy to let the commissioners hire staff this time without interference from the governor's office or the legislature.
ESTABLISH AN INDEPENDENT STATE ETHICS COMMISSION
Establish a truly independent ethics commission with comprehensive responsibility for ethics enforcement. Give it the resources necessary to vigorously investigate and punish ethics rules violations by members of both the executive and legislative branches. Operate it under the following rules:
No elected officials on its governing board.
A five-year revolving door restriction for recent politicians or their staff members to serve as board or staff for the Ethics Commission.
Apply Freedom of Information and Open Meetings Laws to the Ethics Commission.
FUND ETHICS ENFORCEMENT BY COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEYS
County DAs need additional resources in order to enforce public ethics laws in addition to their work on street crime.
FULL TIME LEGISLATURE
Bar income from outside work while serving a term in office. Legislators should be public servants, not politicians getting rich from the work (show or no-show) they secure because they are legislators who influence legislation. They should devote their full time to the people's business.
END GERRYMANDERED DISTRICTS
Eliminate the Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment (LATFOR): LATFOR is staffed by political operatives of the legislative majorities who work full time, year in and year out out, in secret out of public scrutiny, to draw bizarre district lines that enable the politicians to pick their voters and ensure re-election.
Reject the Proposed State Constitutional Amendment on Redistricting: This proposed amendment up for a vote in the November 4, 2014 general election will entrench incumbents, not establish an independent redistricting process.
Establish an Independent Redistricting Commission: Establish an Independent Redistricting Commission governed and staffed by civil servants and charged with drawing districts that optimize the following criteria: population equality, contiguity, compactness, and correspondence to local political boundaries.
Proportional Representation: 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. Proportional representation tends to create a multi-party democracy where each party gets its fair share of representation that is proportional to its support in the electorate. Because its districts are multi-member and the results proportional, the influence of district lines on electoral outcomes is minimized.
CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM
Ban Campaign Contributions from Lobbyists: Campaign contributions by individuals and firms registered as lobbyists should be prohibited. The appearance, if not the reality, of this legalized bribery undermines the people's trust in government.
Prohibit Legislative Staff from Working on Political Campaigns: Legislative staff are hired with taxpayers' money to work on legislation and constituent services. Public financing of election campaigns should be available to all candidates, not just incumbents who can deploy legislative staff on political campaigns.
Full Public Campaign Financing: End the pay-to-play legalized bribery of private campaign financing with public campaign financing. A partial matching funds public campaign financing system will only make a system dominated by private money look like it was reformed when it was not. We need a full public campaign finance system like Arizona and Maine have in place. Every candidate who opts into this kind of full public finance system and qualifies by raising a reasonable number of $5 donations along with their petition signatures receives an equal public campaign grant sufficient to reach the voters of their district with their message. A condition of receiving the grant must be participation in a series of debates. Full public campaign financing levels the playing field.
End the Corporate Personhood and Money-Is-Speech Doctrines: Lobby the U.S. Congress to support House Joint Resolution 29, the We The People Amendment, an amendment to the U.S. Constitution 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.
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