The Conservative Party has for 54 years avidly advocated on behalf of taxpayers of New York State. Our proposals outline the necessary objectives to restore New York’s fiscal well-being. The Conservative Party urges the Executive and Legislative Branches of Government to adopt the following proposals to re-establish New York’s fiscal credibility, keep our citizens safe, properly educate our children, and regain the fiscal stability that made New York the Empire State.
In 2014, voters reaffirmed the Conservative Party’s position on Row C and in doing so made the statement that the Conservative Party has been a positive influence in attempting to bring the State back to an even fiscal standing. With over 18,000 additional votes, voters clearly want our philosophy adopted. Unfortunately, New York’s spending and taxes are still ranked among the highest in the nation, despite the promises of Governor Cuomo to make New York a better place to live and do business. By following the outlined recommendations, Legislators should be able to end the budget deficits and ultimately make New York business friendly. Regrettably, the state, by relying on excessive taxes, surcharges, fees, fines on corporations and on promises of Federal Government handouts to balance an excessive budget, it has made it unnecessary to cut spending. Spending is the problem; New York must end the self-destructive path of overspending. Overspending by the Executive and Legislative branches continue budget deficits, excessive taxes, and expensive borrowing which results in businesses closing and/or moving at record numbers, fewer new business startups, residents moving in droves, and cities and towns facing bankruptcy. Is this the legacy we want for our children?
The Governor must propose and the Legislature must make further cuts across the board; every agency and program must have significant spending cuts and not depend only on attrition to attain the goal. Every outdated, underutilized program must be eliminated. Neither Medicaid nor School Aid can be excluded from meaningful cuts. The Legislature must end its dependency on taxing New York’s citizens, rather, it must enact real change in every aspect of government while eliminating unfunded mandates. The Legislature must adopt term limits and a viable Initiative, Referendum, and Recall bill for all elected officials. Government employees, who are convicted of corruption should not continue to be a financial burden to the public. Public authorities and the department of education all need to adopt ways to root out excessive spending as ways to restore public trust. Judicial reform should be in the direct election of Judges for shorter terms.
The years of government programs designed to alleviate economic disparity have only widened the gap; these programs must end. The free competitive market is the judicious way to achieve higher standards of living for everyone. Our Legislative Program seeks to restore a common-sense approach to a legislature that has looked for ways to benefit it rather than the people it represents. These proposals are concise and need immediate attention. History has proven that enactment of the following proposals will bring a quick reversal in New York’s bleak fiscal outlook that has thousands of New Yorkers moving to states with lower taxes and less regulations.
TAXES AND SPENDING:
The Conservative Party recommends that the following be acted upon:
- The Conservative Party is committed to helping the taxpayers residing in New York State and firmly believe that tax reform and relief is needed immediately and must include the following measures:
- End and repeal unfunded mandates;
- Continue to hold total state spending growth at/or (preferably) below the inflation rate;
- Further reduction in the personal income tax on all New Yorkers;
- Further reduction in the corporate income tax on all businesses in New York, to stimulate more investment and job creation;
- Amend the school property tax and real property tax cap to allow district wide vote by residents to override the budget with a two-thirds majority vote;
- Opposition to adoption of a “circuit-breaker” property tax program;
- No increase in fees or “hidden” taxes;
- We support a “flat tax” where every household in New York State pays the same percentage of their income thereby making it possible to eliminate nuisance taxes.
- Indian Reservations should not be allowed to sell non-residents tax free cigarettes and gasoline.
- Rejection of a “congestion pricing plan”;
- Full repeal of the MTA tax and no reinstatement of the “Commuter Tax”;
- Elimination of state income tax on dividend earnings;
- Opposition to the levy of state and local sales taxes on out-of-state internet purchases.
- Local government entities, such as Fire Districts, Libraries, School Districts, should have voter approval of budgets, prior to contracts becoming effective;
- Local governments should be required to consolidate services and where possible, to eliminate duplication of services;
- Eliminate the New York State estate tax.
- Requirement of a 2/3 majority vote for any tax increase.
- Adoption of a constitutional amendment limiting any increase of state spending to the rate of inflation.
- Prohibit public authorities from issuing new debt except for capital improvements backed by a stable revenue stream paid directly by the project’s beneficiaries - for example: bridge tolls.
- Pension Reform. While it is understood that the New York State Constitution does not allow pension benefits to be “diminished or impaired,” the current defined-benefit pension entitlement must be changed to a defined-contribution retirement savings plan when new government employees are hired. Tier VI, did not include “defined-contribution,” which is necessary to curb the future costs to taxpayers.
- While the cap on Medicaid spending was a good beginning, Medicaid must be reformed to decrease spending. Among some of the reforms Medicaid should adopt is the elimination of programs that are not covered by private insurance carriers, for example, transportation to and from doctor’s appointments. Every effort must be made to eliminate fraud and to recover the monies paid on fraudulent claims.
- Adoption of a constitutional amendment to ban “appropriation-backed” debt that does not have voter approval.
- Adoption of a constitutional amendment that lists the total debt expected from a bond act.
- Support of a constitutional amendment to end all “back door” borrowing and to allow the voters of New York to have more than one bond issue on the ballot.
- Continue job creation through tax reduction by elimination of the Gross Receipts Tax.
- New York State needs to address the out-of-control costs of health care for employees and retirees of public employment agencies.
To keep our streets safe and conducive to business the Conservative Party recommends:
- We support law enforcement agencies efforts utilizing all effective law enforcement techniques, such as profiling, surveillance and stop, question and frisk that keeps citizens safe.
- We oppose any efforts to change the way district attorneys prosecute crimes and oppose changing the Grand Jury system.
- Restoration of the Death Penalty.
- We support legislation that seeks to increase the level of offense when an individual or group specifically targets and/or lures members of law enforcement, firemen, first responders or active military to be physically harmed.
- DNA databanks should include anyone convicted of a criminal offense.
- Citizens shall have the right to protect themselves with legally purchased firearms. Local and State laws should not conflict with federal law in the licensing or permits allowing citizens in good standing to carry firearms, therefore the NY SAFE Act must be repealed.
- We reject any restrictions placed on the rights of law-abiding citizens to legally acquire and possess firearms, or any other constitutionally-protected means of self-defense, such as electric stun devices.
- Law enforcement agencies throughout the state should be required to detain for purposes of notifying federal authorities any individual reasonably suspected of being in the U.S. illegally.
- Repeal the statute of limitations for rape, sexual assault, or serious violent felony offenses for all offenders.
- Legislation to end parole for all convicted felons, as well as mandatory imposition of a sentence of life without parole upon conviction of a third independent felony.
- Bail should be denied to defendants charged with commissions of felony crimes of violence and that community safety should be considered in bail decisions.
- We support legislation that allows for prosecution as a felon after a third independent misdemeanor offense.
- We reject any effort to legalize marihuana and other drugs for recreational purposes.
- We oppose raising the age of criminal responsibility to 18 years or any other change in current law.
We believe the legislature should affirm that marriage is a contract between a man and a woman and call for repeal of legislation that redefined marriage and reject government recognition of non-traditional marriages that take place within or outside of New York State. We do not support legislation that seeks to expand the Human Rights Law to include “transgender” as a protected class. We reject surrogacy contract legislation because it commercializes children and devalues the role of a mother in a child’s life.
PRESERVATION OF LIFE:
We firmly reject any attempt to expand the already liberal abortion laws of New York State. We believe that New York’s present abortion law should be repealed and should re-adopt the prior statute permitting therapeutic abortions only under the most clearly defined conditions hazardous to the life of the mother. Elderly, terminally ill, and patients who cannot advocate for themselves should have the full protection of the law to prevent attempts to end their lives prematurely. Terminally ill patients should be provided all palliative care to ease their pain; efforts to have physicians assist their suicide must be rejected. The Conservative Party staunchly believes that all human cloning must be banned and that stem-cell research specifically prohibits the use of progenitor cells and/ or pluripotent cells and must be limited to adult stem cells, amniotic fluid, and fetal cord blood research. Unborn victims of violence should be given the full protection of our laws. Tax dollars should not be used to prevent or end a pregnancy. Efforts must be made to ease adoption laws in New York State so that traditional families can provide a loving home to unwanted or abandoned children.
The Conservative Party recognizes that a good education is vital for members of society to prosper. We believe that every parent should have the opportunity to send their children to the best schools available. Educational tax credits should be available to parents. We believe that state government should set the minimum standards, but that local governments should have control without the mandates of common core. English should be established as the official language and bilingual educational programs should be eliminated. All disruptive violent students should be removed and placed in special schools. Teachers who have acted in any seriously unprofessional manner must be stripped of tenure and prevented from teaching in the future. We oppose allowing Courts to determine New York State’s system for educational financing and support. We also oppose the establishment and funding of any educational institute by any municipality that seeks to promote a culture or history that does not support the United States Constitution.
We must reestablish a climate that is business friendly, and eliminate burdensome taxes and regulations that prevent society’s entrepreneurial spirit from soaring. Businesses must be allowed to conduct their business in an atmosphere that lets the free-market dictate what is best for it if the business is not promoting substances that are illegal or promoting illegal behavior. We support the repeal of the mandated “Wicks Law” and the Scaffold Law that adds to construction costs. Companies should be allowed to hire the best-qualified person without fear of breaching hiring quotas. Paid leave should not be mandated in a free market. The free market must determine wages, not government. We call for the repeal of the current steps raising the minimum wage and oppose living wage legislation. Employees must be held responsible if they contribute to their own injuries. Tort reform, including the expansion of sanctions for bringing frivolous lawsuits, is essential to encourage the free flow of business in New York State, and meaningful Workers Compensation reform is vital. We support repealing the requirement that new LLC or LLP publish notices for 6 weeks in 2 different newspapers. We support a constitutional amendment that would specifically define “eminent domain” to prohibit takings for economic development purposes and limit takings to true public purposes. Hydrofracking, with proper environmental safeguards, should be permitted in the state.
The free market, not government controls, is the only way to have quality affordable housing.
New York State must adopt the strictest legal reforms, give control to the local counties to set limits for payment, allow for 100% sanctions if the public assistance work rules are not adhered to, require full restitution if fraud is used to obtain benefits, and firmly establish that each recipient is in our country legally. We support the requirement of drug testing and fingerprinting all who apply for government benefits and reject the use of taxpayer money to reach out for new recipients.
States release prisoners to balance their budgets. We believe that is not in the best interest of keeping our citizens safe. Government’s role is to protect its citizens from those who have harmed or continue to harm individuals. Prisoners should have to work toward reentry into society; their food, shelter and clothing cost taxpayers money and New York State should have the ability to require prisoners to reimburse the state.
New York State should be a right to work state. Union members’ First Amendment right of freedom of speech and assembly should be reaffirmed and be protected against arbitrary disciplinary actions. We support strengthening the Taylor Law and the repeal of the Triborough Amendment, and are strongly opposed to attempts to allow mediators to declare that officials are bargaining in bad faith and we support limiting pay raises from binding arbitration to 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower.
CONSERVATION, RECREATION AND ECOLOGY:
The unreasonable and massive takeover of private lands by state and local government must end.
The Conservative Party opposes Governor Cuomo’s proposal for free college education, while acknowledging that the cost of higher education is far too expensive, however “free” community college or universities is even more costly to taxpayers. Therefore, all levels of higher education should be made available on-line to lower the cost. The Conservative Party believes that higher admission standards will restore our public institutions of higher learning to their former greatness and we continue to oppose open enrollment. Safeguards must be in place before any incentives of free tuition to prospective students are offered. Any student enrolled in our higher education system must be able to prove that they are in our country legally and that any visa used to enter our Country has not expired. We continue to oppose the New York State “Dream Act” as it rewards illegal activity at the expense of those who are legal residents of New York. Institutions of higher education must be required to adhere to the constitutional right of guaranteed free speech.
We continue our opposition to a Constitutional Convention. Legislation to prevent every public official from collecting their pension if convicted of a felony must be enacted and be effective for all current members. Members must enact a permanent ban on all legislative member items. If a budget is not enacted by March 31, no action should be taken on any other bills, except for legislation necessary for public safety. Once a budget is adopted, all other business should be concluded within 30 days. Increases in legislative pay should be approved by public referendum, not a commission appointed by elected officials. Budget Bills should only include items that are directly related to keeping the budget in sound fiscal health. Legislative members should not be full time and should be allowed to continue their outside careers to realize the impact of the bills they pass.
Term limits for all elected officials should be enacted, with no more than 8 years in each house and two four-year terms for statewide officials. Citizens should be allowed to have Initiative, Referendum, and Recall. Direct election of all judges, for shorter terms, should be required. Photo identification should be required and presented to the poll inspectors before voting, as well as when first registering to vote. Any attempt to establish “early voting” or instant voter registration in New York State must be rejected. Political campaigns should not be financed with tax dollars. Candidates for political office should not accept campaign contributions from sovereign entities not bound by, or that violate, the laws and regulations of the New York State Board of Elections. Existing federal law regarding Super PAC’s is sufficient. We support efforts that result in apolitical Boards of Elections. The Conservative Party opposes any effort to diminish the power of those enrolled in a political party by denying them the ability to control their own party. We support adoption of a Constitutional Amendment establishing a requirement that the Governor call Special elections within a certain statutory calendar.
New York State, since the earliest days of our Nation, has been a beacon to people coming to America. Today, we welcome those who come to our state – legally. While we welcome all who come to our shores, we insist that our government services must be limited to those who are here legally. Refugees, while here legally, must not become permanent recipients of government programs. Government service providers should require proof that people who receive government services are here legally. Additionally, all government forms should be printed in English only. Citizens who vote should vote in English. As we stated, we recognize the wonderful contributions immigrants have made to America, but we also recognize that immigrants have made these contributions, by communicating in the English language and assimilating to American customs. Citizens who have entered our country and state illegally are not entitled to drivers’ licenses or any other government professional licenses and identification forms. New York State government should require all law enforcement agencies to hold for federal law enforcement officials any person in our state illegally and prohibit any state or municipality from becoming a sanctuary government.
RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCE IN PUBLIC LIFE:
The values of our faiths and the Judeo-Christian moral code are under assault. Congress and the Legislature open each Session with a prayer. Why then, do we deny that very same privilege to tomorrow’s leaders in public school classes and functions? The Founding Fathers debated what they hoped to be the values of this new nation and chose as the very first line of the Bill of Rights: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” They knew the importance of religion in our daily lives and specifically denied government choosing which religion should be practiced, yet emphasized that government could not stop people from practicing their religion of choice. Therefore, we urge the legitimization of the traditionally accepted role of nonsectarian religious observance in our public schools, through a proposal by the New York State Legislature, of an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, making it clear that non-denominational, non-coercive prayer in public schools shall not be prohibited; and that individual or group religious observance or activity shall not be prohibited, infringed, or discriminated against through refusal of reasonable accommodation or by any other form of disparate treatment. We oppose imposing non-religious values on religious people and institutions. Religious values should be defended from attack by politicians, while our civil and criminal laws must apply to all citizens equally, without interpretations that suit individual religions. We support the right of business owners and employees to freely live out their faith in their place of business.
The Conservative Party believes that just as the Legislative Branch of government should eliminate all legislative member items, the Executive Branch must eliminate “executive” items also. The disbursement of economic development council grants and tax credits to localities creates unjust favoritism with taxpayers’ funds to businesses that are vulnerable to competing on a level playing field.