Government at all levels in New York is deeply in debt and was even prior to the COVID-19 restrictions that shuttered business in this state. Our state was once the beacon of economic success, but today New York has become an entity that overregulates small business, stifles proven energy expansion and inordinately increases taxes. This forces New Yorkers to flee in pursuit of places that encourage the entrepreneurial spirit that leads to prosperity for future generations of their families.
The Conservative Party offers fiscally-sound economic policies to correct our state’s penchant for overspending.
In the last two gubernatorial elections, 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 restore fiscal sanity to New York. Despite the state’s shrinking population, the Conservative Party has consistently increased the number of votes on the Party’s line since 2002.
Despite the promises of Governor Cuomo to make New York a better place to live and do business, New York’s spending and rate of taxation are still ranked among the highest in the nation. Regrettably, the state—by relying on excessive taxes, surcharges, fees, and fines on corporations—thinks it can continue to spend blindly. Promises of federal bailouts to balance a bloated budget is not enough. The Governor and the Legislature must cut spending.
The horrific pandemic has proven how misguided New York’s economic policies are. While COVID-19 has amplified the budget shortfall, the state was headed toward a fiscal crisis before Coronavirus arrived. Governmental leaders must learn from its past habit of gross overspending.
- The Governor must propose across-the-board budget cuts, and the Legislature must not add to the proposed budget.
- Every agency and program must have significant spending cuts and not depend upon mere attrition to attain the goal.
- Every outdated, underutilized program must be eliminated.
- Neither Medicaid nor school aid can be excluded from realistic cuts.
- The Legislature must enact real change in every aspect of government and eliminate unfunded mandates.
- Accountability matters. The Legislature must adopt term limits and pass viable initiative, referendum, and recall legislation.
- New York State must stop masking the true nature of its growing debt through obtusely worded bonding that offers no insight into the true long-term cost to the taxpayer.
- The Department of Education must root out excessive administrative levels and spending as ways to restore the public trust.
- Years of government programs designed to alleviate economic disparity have only widened the gap; these programs must end.
- The free market is the judicious way to achieve higher standards of living for everyone. Our legislative agenda seeks to restore a commonsense approach to a legislature that has looked for ways to benefit itself rather than the people it represents.
These proposals are concise and need immediate adoption. History has proven that enactment of the following proposals will bring a reversal in New York’s bleak fiscal outlook that has thousands of New Yorkers moving to states with lower taxation and less regulation.
TAXES AND SPENDING
In order for New York State to keep residents from moving to states with lesser taxation and more economic growth, New York must reconsider its financial structure. The state should lower its debt, provide mandate relief, reconsider regulations that strangle businesses, end wasteful spending on programs that are doomed to fail and cut spending across the board.
Members of the State Legislature must adopt the following recommendations to lower and/or eliminate the oppressive taxes forced on Empire State families:
- Requirement of a 2/3 majority vote for any tax increase
- Rejection of extending and/or increasing the personal income tax (PIT) on higher income New Yorkers
- Opposition to the ever-increasing MTA mobility taxes
- Opposition to the New York Health Act
- We oppose the adoption of any revenue stream, that does not include a sunset clause, designed to mitigate the COVID-19 deficit, which will become a permanent burden on taxpayers and businesses, and give Albany more money to play with when the impact of COVID recedes.
- End and repeal unfunded mandates
- Adoption of a constitutional amendment limiting any increase of state spending to the rate of inflation.
- We support a constitutional amendment to reform state bonding. The amendment should include an end to ban back-door borrowing, require listing the total debt expected from the bonding and allow the voters of New York to have more than one bond issue on the ballot.
- Prohibit public authorities from issuing new debt, except for capital improvements backed by a stable revenue stream that is paid directly by the project’s beneficiaries (i.e., bridge tolls)
- Continue to hold total state spending growth at/or (preferably) below the inflation rate.
- Further reduction in the state corporate income tax on all businesses in New York, to stimulate more investment and job creation. No adoption of a “circuit-breaker” property tax program.
- End the practice of increasing fees or “hidden” taxes. 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.
- Every effort must be made to eliminate Medicaid fraud and to recover the monies paid on fraudulent claims.
- Elimination of state income tax on dividend earnings.
- Local government entities (such as fire districts, libraries and school districts) should have voter approval of budgets, prior to contracts taking effect.
- Local governments should be required to consolidate services, and where possible, to eliminate duplication of services.
- Eliminate the New York State estate tax.
- 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 contributions, which is necessary to curb the future costs to taxpayers.
- Continue job creation through tax reduction by eliminating 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.
- Common retirement funds must use free-market principles and not be mandated by government fiat to invest in risky “do good” ideals.
In order to keep our streets safe and conducive to business, the Conservative Party recommends:
- We reject any effort to defund law enforcement anywhere in New York State.
- The recently enacted criminal justice reforms must be repealed and replaced with more realistic, attainable goals.
- Bail should be denied to defendants charged with commissions of felony crimes of violence.
- Community, victims and witnesses’ safety should be considered in bail decisions.
- While we can agree that cash bail should be eliminated, judges must be left with discretion.
- We reject efforts to legalize marijuana and other drugs for recreational purposes.
- 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.
- We support law enforcement techniques, such as: profiling, surveillance and stop, and question and frisk.
- 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 felony 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 licensing or permits that allow citizens in good standing to carry firearms. Therefore, the NY SAFE Act must be repealed.
- Repeal the expanded Red Flag Law
- We reject biased examination of social media sites.
- Rejection of 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.
- Legislation to end parole for all convicted felons.
- Rejection of any effort to change the state’s double jeopardy protection.
- Rejection of efforts to have convicted felons serve on jury duty.
- Legislation that allows for prosecution as a felon after a third independent misdemeanor offense.
- The opioid crisis is real and deadly. Narcan is readily available to save lives and every effort must be made to help the addict, but we must also be mindful of politicians who place blame on drug manufacturers for political and financial gain.
- We renew our opposition to drug injection sites.
- Restoration of the Death Penalty.
- Domestic Terrorism is a real and serious concern. There must be strident enforcement of current laws to prevent and punish acts of domestic terrorism, including without limitation, crimes against individuals or religious groups regardless of motivation.
Legislation must be adopted to protect religious institutions from being required to recognize/perform marriages that are not within their definition of marriage. We do not support legislation that seeks to expand the Human Rights Law to include “transgender” as a protected class. Mandated vaccinations should be limited to those illnesses that are easily communicable and potentially life treating; all other vaccines shall only be performed with parental consent. We reject any effort to detain infected individuals and their contacts in a government and/or private facility.
PRESERVATION OF LIFE
We believe that New York’s expanded abortion law should be repealed and that the legislature 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 should specifically prohibit the use of progenitor cells and/or pluripotent cells. It 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 and we oppose any restrictions on home schooling. 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 oppose any effort to include the debunked 1619 Project in school curriculums. We firmly support the merit testing of students for admission into specialized high schools. 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. We support expanding the number of Charter Schools. 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 schools that have the ability to handle their distractions. Teachers who have acted in any seriously unprofessional manner must be stripped of tenure and prevented from teaching in the future. School districts that decide to permit school personnel to have access to firearms should be provided training and support by state and local law enforcement. We support a temporary state commission to make a list of recommended school mergers to provide more cost effective primary and secondary school education wherever the school-age children appear to be in permanent decline.
We must stop the erratic issuance of unconstitutional dictates that have destroyed thousands of small businesses. A devastated economy will set all New Yorkers back for decades to come. 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 as long as 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. The free market must determine wages, not government. We call for the repeal of the current steps raising the minimum wage and also 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 “Paid Family Leave” requirement adopted in 2017, is unreasonable and unsustainable, and should be repealed. We do not support the proposed Transportation Climate Initiative that would artificially raise the cost of gasoline and diesel fuel.
The free market, not government controls, is the only way to have quality affordable housing. The recently enacted expansion of rent regulations throughout New York State will only exacerbate the housing shortages and force landlords to abandon and/or fail to make necessary repairs, due to the inability to recoup the funds to provide needed repairs. During the pandemic, government has protected renters from evictions, but ignored the plight of landlords who are expected to pay undiminished taxes or face foreclosure. Government policies that interfered with the ability of real estate to generate income must not result in the socialist seizure of private property.
New York State must adopt the strictest legal reforms and work requirements, give control to local counties to set limits for the amount of 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.
New York State continues to systematically release prisoners to balance their budgets and close prisons. 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. Every reasonable effort must be made to ensure that people who are held in jail are given a speedy trial to determine their guilt or innocence and that discovery must include all the legally obtained information and be provided within a reasonable amount of time, (currently 20 days if in custody and 35 days when not in custody) which could ultimately allow the release of the suspected criminal on this technicality.
Union members’ First Amendment right of freedom of speech and assembly should be reaffirmed and be protected against arbitrary disciplinary actions. New York State should be a right to work state. 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. We support limiting pay raises from binding arbitration to 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. Since the US Supreme Court struck down Agency Shop, government unions should not be able to prevent public employees from opting out. Efforts to regulate Gig workers must be rejected. Efforts to expand the public works subjected to prevailing wage laws must be rejected and/or repealed. We support legislation seeking to repeal the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Protection Act.
CONSERVATION, RECREATION AND ECOLOGY
The unreasonable and massive taking of private lands by state and local government must end.
The Conservative Party continues to oppose Governor Cuomo’s “free” college education, while acknowledging that the cost of higher education is far too expensive. “Free” community college or universities are even more costly to taxpayers. We support initiatives that reduce the ever-increasing cost of higher education, for example on-line classes to lower the cost. We oppose any state or federal effort to eliminate student debt. Gov. Cuomo’s proposal to require food pantries at all SUNY and CUNY campuses should be rejected. While we sympathize with the plight of Dreamers, the New York State “Dream Act” should be repealed as it rewards the illegal activity of their parents while legal residents of New York are disadvantaged. 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. 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. Institutions of higher education must be required to adhere to the constitutional right of guaranteed free speech.
The Members of the Legislature must immediately rescind the authority granted Gov. Andrew Cuomo to make decisions by Executive Order immediately. The members must reassert their constitutional authority as an equal branch of government. 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, with the exception of legislation necessary for public safety. Once a budget is adopted, all other business should be concluded within 30 days. Increases in legislative pay should only be approved by members of the legislature. Budget Bills must 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. No taxpayer funds should be used to pay for any public official’s sexual harassment or misconduct, nor should there be any non-disclosure agreements, however, caution must be used to protect the identity of the victim. JCOPE, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, must be disbanded and a new independent commission should be established to oversee both the Executive and Legislative branches of government.
Term limits for all elected officials must be enacted, with no more than 8 years in each house and two four-year terms for statewide officials. Same day voter registration/Election Day voter registration must be rejected. Automatic Voter Registration must be repealed. We support the increased use of early in person voting but oppose universal absentee ballots. Universal absentee ballots are an open invitation to fraud due to poorly maintained state voter registration files, the lack of a central data base for returned ballots, inconsistent, sometimes nonexistent signature verification and poor BOE storage policies. Secure photo identification, confirming the US citizenship of the voter—a driver’s license is no longer a valid photo identification—should be required and presented to the poll inspectors before voting, as well as when first registering to vote. New Yorkers should not be made to finance political campaigns they do not support and therefore campaign financing must be repealed. Citizens should be allowed to have Initiative, Referendum, and Recall. Direct election of all judges, for shorter terms, should be required. 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. We Oppose a Constitutional Amendment that seeks to change the redistricting process including redistricting lines for congressional and state districts. We oppose any legislation that allows felons to vote.
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, again a NYS driver’s license is not 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. People who have entered our country and state illegally should not be provided drivers’ licenses and if they have obtained one, it should be revoked, nor 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
Legislation must be adopted to protect private citizens and faith-based entities from being forced to participate in activities that violate their religious convictions. 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.
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. We oppose efforts by the Governor and Legislature to create Commissions that possesses the authority to make state law.