John Gaetani Responds to Rigged Comptroller Debate

Last Monday night NY1, YNN, NY1 Notacias and Citizens Union sponsored a debate with two of the four candidates that have satisfied New York State’s requirements to be on the ballot.  In doing so they revealed that they are irresponsible journalists and partisan puppets of the Democrat and Republican ruling elite that has plunged New York State into fiscal turmoil once again.

Apparently John Gaetani, the Libertarian Party candidate and Julia Willebrand, the Green Party candidate aren’t important enough to the sponsors even though they were important enough to the voters to collect 60,000 signatures to earn their ballot lines. Apparently, those pillars of the community at NY1, NY1 Noticias, YNN and Citizen’s Union have decided the voters are too stupid to make their own decisions.  Im so glad the sponsors are so smart. I’d just be lost without them.

John Gaetanti the Libertarian Candidate responded as follows today on the Times Union Website.

As my friend Eric Sundwall said this debate was a sham. As the Libertarian party candidate for Comptroller, I was not even informed of this debate. The more than 34,000 registered voters of New York who signed my petitions to get me on the ballot have been DISENFRANCISED! NY1, Time Warner Cable, and YNN have ignored their public duty and responsibility to keep the voters of New York informed of all the candidates for Comptroller. I am outraged!

I just got done watching this debate and let me tell you if one of these two guys gets elected the State will suffer a financial collapse. Here are my proposals to fix the fiscal mess the state is in. A mess that Mr. DiNapoli had a heavy hand in creating as an Assemblyman for 23 years and as Comptroller for 3 and half years.

Q: Most studies show the state has the highest property-tax burden in the country. What is your plan to control property taxes in New York?

A: First off, many candidates are advocating a property tax cap. I am not in favor of that because it simply won’t work. I won’t work because spending will continue to increase for a variety of reasons, chief among them unfunded state and federal mandates. A cap will just lead to more borrowing by local governments and school districts which will eventually lead to higher taxes and the elimination of the tax caps. Every time government tries to fix one problem it creates a bigger one. I like to call it the law of unintended consequences. The only way to control property taxes is to cut spending. I plan to do management reviews, operational audits, and financial audits of the local governments and school districts. Using the results of these audits and reviews, we will develop plans and suggestions for the local governments and school districts to improve their management techniques, operations, and finances to lower costs and thereby passing the savings onto their residents in the form of tax reductions. Furthermore, I will propose consolidation of governments, authorities, and services to eliminate duplication and taxing authorities. Also, I will propose the abolition of the current school districts and create countywide districts. I will propose a reduction in the services covered by Medicaid and that the State take over the 50% share that they used to have instead of splitting it between the State (25%) and the counties (25%) (federal 50%). I will also ensure that the New York State Common Retirement Fund is invested in a way so as to not require the participating employers to have to pay such a heavy contribution to it, which means the taxpayers. I will also propose that all elected officials not be able to participate in the pension system and not be able to receive health insurance benefits. I do not believe that the economic development activities at the state and county levels does any bit of good for the people of New York and would like to see them all abolished. Finally, I will ensure that revenues are used for their intended purposes such as lottery proceeds for education and gas taxes for roads so that the burden for making up these misused revenues does not fall on the property tax payer.

Q: Frustration with state government is at an all-time high. For years, good-government advocates have argued for tighter campaign-finance laws and ethics oversight while decrying the strong influence of special-interest groups and lobbyists. What will your administration do to address these issues successfully?

A: As the Comptroller, I won’t have too much involvement with campaign finance laws. However, I would like to see it addressed by election reform. Opening up the ballot access to any qualified candidate and with no political parties. If too many candidates are running for a particular office, then there will be a primary with the top two candidates facing off in the general election. I would also like the election laws changed so that candidates can not begin their campaign any earlier than three months before the election. On the finances side, I would like to see that candidates, including incumbents, not be able to solicit and receive contributions any earlier than three months before the election. The last thing I would like to see is that elected officials not be allowed to take their accumulated war chests with them when they leave office.

On the question of ethics, I will use the power of the Office of Comptroller to investigate any misuse of state money by any elected or bureaucratic official. I do not believe that State legislators should be full time and I don’t believe in term limits. I do believe that all elected officials fully disclose any conflicts of interest and recuse themselves of any matters coming before them that even has the appearance of a conflict of interest. As a matter of fact, I believe that the legislature passes far too many laws and sticks its collective nose in far too much personal business.

Q: The executive and Legislature have had difficulty agreeing when it comes to approving major agenda items over the years. How do you plan to engage state lawmakers and have them to take up your proposals?

A: That is an excellent question given all of the proposals I have to offer. I have thought a lot about this and have determined that with the current people in the legislature it will be difficult. I hope that the people will vote some more responsive people into the legislature. But given that it may not happen, I will bring my proposals to the legislature and the governor and impress on them that they are the best thing for the people of New York. I will bring my thorough analysis of each proposal showing why they should vote in favor of them.

Q: The upstate region has been losing jobs and population to other states at a steady, if not accelerated pace. What is the cause of this? How would you turn around the upstate economy?

A: The cause is simple. The high tax burden and regulations on businesses and people, the below par schools, and the dysfunctional government. As the Comptroller, I don’t have much say in legislation but I can propose it. And I think the answers I gave you previously with my proposals for reducing government spending will help tremendously in keeping people here and attracting new businesses and people. In addition, I would audit all the state regulations and programs to determine how effective they and what their impact is on the loss of people and businesses in the state. Then take the results and propose changes to correct the situation.

Q: Most recently, Gov. David Paterson used a unique power of the governor’s office to pass large portions of his budget through the use of emergency-appropriation measures. If the Legislature dawdles on approving a budget, is this a tool you would use?

A: Since the Comptroller is not directly involved in the budget process, I can’t do much yet. But I would propose that if the budget is not passed on time that the Comptroller be given the authority to impose a temporary, austerity budget until such time as the permanent budget is passed. And no I don’t agree with how Governor Paterson did that this year. In addition to the new authority I would seek, I would take a greater role in the budget process. I would propose that when the governor makes his proposed budget, the Comptroller does a thorough review and analysis of it and make changes and suggestions to fix it if needed, so that it is in accordance with Generally Accepted Government Accounting Standards, that revenue projections are conservative, that expenditure projections are in the best interest of the people of the State of New York, and is balanced. As far as I know, this has not been done by any Comptroller including the current one who just sat on the side lines issuing occasional statements that the budget was late and then after it was approved, issuing statements that the revenue projections don’t add up. I will make my presence felt in the budget process and question any proposal for its necessity and whether it will achieve its intended purpose.

One final note. Mr. Wilson made a big deal that he was born and raised in upstate New York. So was I but unlike him, I have lived in upstate New York all of my life (51 years). I currently reside in Glenville. And unlike both Mr. DiNapoli and Mr. Wilson, I have traveled this state from Long Island to Buffalo for much of the past 27 years. I have seen the devastation of that has been done to the economy upstate, including in my home town of Binghamton. I makes me sad and mad every time I go there to see how depressed it is. Make no mistake, I will fix the fiscal mess of this State. Vote for me on November 2, Row H Libertarian.

John A. Gaetani
Libertarian for Comptroller