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Candidates set sights on cutting N.Y. budget

October 18, 2010
By JASON RODRIGUEZ Special to the OBSERVER

This is the third in a four-part series on an OBSERVER/Post-Journal debate between Republican Andy Goodell and Democrat Nancy Bargar for the 150th New York State Assembly seat. The candidates answered the following question: What specific state programs would you cut to lower the state tax rate?

Andrew Goodell and Nancy Bargar have their sights set on cutting programs and trimming New York's budget.

"Last year, the state went overboard with its addition of $150 million to the judiciary budget," Bargar said in her opening remarks. "In a year when every New Yorker was being asked to do with less, we added 1,600 people, and specifically 700 to 800 people in the area of security, to that budget."

This is a place to make cuts, she said, but there are others.

In addition, Bargar said she favors consolidation of school districts and trimming the bureaucracy at the top of the State University of New York. But the local administrators should be left intact to take on more independent leadership, she said.

If elected to Albany, she even favors downsizing the Assembly. She said her message is unchanged since she made a similar proposal among the county legislature - when she said her ideas distanced herself from others in the Democratic party.

Fact Box

This is the third in a four-part series on an OBSERVER/Post-Journal debate between Republican Andy Goodell and Democrat Nancy Bargar for the 150th New York State Assembly seat. The candidates answered the following question: What specific state programs would you cut to lower the state tax rate?

"We have lost population and we are going to lose another congressional seat after this latest census,'' Ms. Bargar said.

CHANGING WELFARE

The state has a trend "to say yes to every item on the Medicaid menu," and she said the assembly should focus on where to prioritize the cuts. While $200 million in benefits makes it way to Chautauqua, there are clear examples where it is not working to benefit those that need it the most. Bargar cited doctors' comments that it is possible for any women of any income level to have her pregnancy covered by Medicaid.

"In order to deliver major tax cuts you have to make major spending cuts," said Goodell.

He, too, turned to a proposal to change Medicaid in New York. He underscored how the state budgets $15 million to $20 million more than even the state California.

He said the generous healthcare benefits within Medicaid do not benefit New York in the long run because any private sector job cannot compete with what the state is offering.

"We have a system that is bankrupting New York State, and we are using the money to trap people in poverty," Goodell said. "The program itself doesn't make sense and it is very poor public policy. My recommendation is to take medicaid coverage and make it comparable to what a person can reasonably expect to get in the private sector."

This policy would prompt more people to leave welfare without losing health benefits, he said, and the savings from a streamlining of Medicaid can matched by a "huge tax cut" to create jobs and private investment.

Goodell said the current Democratic-led assembly is sending the wrong message by increasing welfare benefits by 10 percent and raising taxes and fees on industry.

"We're killing off private sector jobs and making it more difficult for people to leave welfare," he said. "We want to make it easier for people to leave welfare. We want to have a thriving economy so that can have jobs."

Using his economic judgment, Goodell pledged to correct social policy that does not work, such as ending New York's "baby bonus" that provides cash to expectant mothers who are already on assistance.

Bargar responded to what she said is a growing argument for mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients.

"I think it should be discussed, but I do see the problems with it," she said, which could lead to an expansion of the policy to those collecting social security and other programs.

Goodell said it is frustrating that fingerprint imaging was cut from the recent state budget after noted success. Bargar clarified it was Gov. Paterson who ultimately removed the line during the budget shortfall, but agreed with her opponent.

But Goodell advocated for a comprehensive fraud prevention.

"I would recommend the reinstatement of fingerprint imaging, the requirement of personal interviews, and the state be authorized to do drug testing," he said.

 
 

 

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