A Forward-Thinking Agenda


ECONOMIC SECURITY FOR ALL

I believe that government is the only institution in our society able to protect the interests of all people. With a Democratic Legislature in New York, we could ensure there is fair pay, paid sick days, and a strong statewide economic safety net for all. Read where I stand on these important economic issues. ↓

Fair Pay for All

I strongly support increasing the minimum wage, which increases local economic activity by putting more money in workers’ pockets, but we are also aware that we need to do more to help the small businesses impacted by the wage increase. We support the Paycheck Fairness Act as a key step to promote fair pay and stopping wage discrimination. We also support pay transparency to help achieve equal pay accountability and strengthen enforcement.

Paid Sick Days

Nearly two in five private-sector workers are denied paid sick days. In the past four years, one in seven low-wage workers were fired because they or their family member was sick. Paid sick days is a matter of economic security; no parent should have to choose between keeping their job or their paycheck and taking care of a sick child. Although momentum for a federal paid sick leave requirement is growing, there are currently only a few states, sometimes limited to specific cities within these states (including New York City), in which employers are required to provide paid sick leave to qualified individuals. I would work to ensure that all working people earn at least seven paid sick days from their employer to recover from their own illness or injury or to take care of a sick family member.

Preserving New Yorker’s Safety Net

The 2017 Republican “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” is forecast to raise the federal deficit by as much as $2.0 trillion over the coming decade. Corporations and the highest earners are expected to benefit most from the law, while the lowest earners may actually pay more in taxes once most individual tax provisions expire after 2025. It permanently removes the individual mandate, a key provision of the Affordable Care Act, which is likely to raise insurance premiums and significantly reduce the number of people with coverage.

This Act is a Republican economic dagger aimed at high-tax, high-cost and generally Democratic-leaning areas—notably New York and the Northeast. The bill would eliminate the deduction for state and local income taxes and would cap the deduction for property taxes at $10,000. Many in our state could see an immediate tax increase and it could send home prices tumbling 10 percent or more.

The Act could increase our regional tax burden, complicating companies’ efforts to attract skilled workers. It could make it harder for state and local governments to pay for upgrades to the transit system and other infrastructure. And it could force cuts in federal programs that help immigrants, the elderly, and other low-income residents afford the region’s high cost of living.

And what’s worse, Congressional Republicans are talking about cutting our safety-net programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to offset the huge deficit that the tax cuts will create. Their strategy is to cut the programs both directly and indirectly, not just by reducing those programs’ budgets but also by introducing new requirements and bureaucratic hurdles meant to reduce the rolls.

At the New York State level, we must immediately set to work to find ways to lessen the effect of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act—a law designed to hurt states that traditionally care for its citizens—and not permit any reductions in social safety-net programs. We must also end the practice of unfunded mandates, where requirements and laws are forced on local governments with no funds provided, while finding a balanced approach to lowering taxes.

HEALTHCARE FOR ALL

I believe that we can bring overall health costs down in New York while boosting care levels for all by pushing for a single-payer system in our state. I will fight for reproductive health protections and for funds for the prevention and proactive management of the opioid drug abuse crisis in our state. Gun violence, a leading cause of injury and death in America, remains a threat to the health and safety of our communities, and I will firmly support any common-sense gun legislation. Read where I stand on these crucial healthcare issues. ↓

Single-Payer Healthcare

A single-payer healthcare system will bring down overall health costs in New York. And property taxes as well.

This is not socialized medicine. It is a smart way to access healthcare and eliminate the middleman—for-profit insurance companies caring about their bottom lines more than their customers. Under single-payer healthcare, all New Yorkers would receive comprehensive medical benefits including medically necessary services, including rehabilitative, long-term, and home care; mental health care, prescription drugs, and medical supplies; and preventive and public health measures. Care would be based on need, not on ability to pay.

New York Democrats have pushed for a single-payer system on the state level for three years. The Assembly, controlled by Democrats, has passed single-payer legislation titled The New York Health Act repeatedly in recent years while the GOP-held Senate has declined to take up the issue.

 

Multiple studies, including ones by the UMASS Amherst and the Urban Institute, conclude that New York State and its citizens would save tens of billions of dollars a year if we switched to a single-payer health care system.

 

This includes drastic cuts to property taxes as well. The largest chunk of most New Yorkers’ property tax bill goes to support their local school district. And one of the largest expenses those districts have is the healthcare costs of current and retired teachers and administrators. By moving to a single-payer system, those costs and obligations would drop drastically, and we would see drops in property tax by more than 25% in many cases. Our county and town/village/city taxes would also drop, as health related costs for those workers would also be either eliminated or reduced.

Women’s Health

It is unacceptable that in 2018 choice and family planning are part of the New York State’s penal code. Decisions regarding a woman’s health should be made by a woman and her doctor. Period. There is no place here for interference by politicians in Albany.

As your Senator, I will fight to pass the Reproductive Health Act, which will move issues of reproductive health out of New York’s criminal code and regulate it as a matter of public health. I also support the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act, which requires insurers to provide free contraceptive coverage to all New Yorkers—a regulation that the Trump administration is working to undo.

I will also fight for a constitutional amendment to enshrine the protections of Roe v. Wade in our state constitution. As the Trump administration works to overturn those protections at the federal level, now more than ever we must protect the rights of women in New York to be able to make these crucial and personal decisions about their health.

Opioids and Drug-Abuse Addiction and Mental Health

A major crisis, possibly the #1 killer of people under 50 in the U.S. today, is opioids and drug abuse. This is a healthcare disaster, costing us vibrant young lives.

Addiction is a medical condition spurred on by social, cultural, and economic situations in our society that act as triggers. Exposure to drugs is a problem, but it is not the primary cause leading to addiction. If we take a deeper look into why so many New Yorkers and Americans feel compelled to self-medicate, we see a healthcare crisis that can be managed and even averted.

We have to be willing to invest proactively in prevention, treating the mental and social issues that often lead to addiction. When we refuse to deal with these key early issues, when we focus only on the full-blown, visible aspects of the problem, we have already passed the tipping point and must grapple with a greater, much more expensive crisis. Multiplied across the many stricken New Yorkers and their families, we now have an epidemic.

 

Addiction, like heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, can often be prevented. And prevention is cost-effective compared to ignoring the problem until it becomes a pit of never-ending costs and death. Prevention takes education funds, effort, and patience—but the results are well worth it and the benefit to our society is priceless. This is both a priority for me personally and our state at large. The sooner we deal with this, the better off we’ll all be.

Gun Safety Legislation

I strongly support common sense gun legislation protecting the citizens of New York State. New York has been a model of sensible gun laws since the SAFE Act of 2013. In the wake of the recent Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Florida, the New York State Assembly passed a series of reform bills expanding gun restrictions to help prevent such a tragedy from occurring in New York.

These five bills establish what would be the most basic common-sense gun laws: they create “Extreme Risk Protection Orders”, which remove weapons from those deemed to be a risk to themselves or others at the request of a judge, law enforcement or a relative; they prevent people convicted of domestic abuse from owning or obtaining firearms; they forbid the manufacturing or use of bump stocks and other trigger modification devices; and they extend the waiting period for the purchase of a gun from three to ten days and require the use of background checks. And yet, this series of bills is not expected to pass in our Republican-majority state senate.

As your State Senator, I will fight to pass these bills because we can have sensible gun legislation without stepping on the rights afforded us under the Constitution. We must be proactive and update New York laws to reflect the world in which we live in today.

OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL

I believe that technology is transforming our world, creating exciting opportunities for New Yorkers to flourish. In improving our infrastructure, welcoming new businesses and jobs, and funding proactive retraining programs, we will create a template for what business, government, unions, education, and the public can do together. Read where I stand on the many opportunities for New York’s 40th District.

Jobs and Training

Technology is transforming our world. We must be out in front of these changes, making sure that New York has the best and most well-prepared workforce, and that we are doing all that we can to attract the most exciting and innovative businesses. For too long our state has been late in reacting to business and job changes, not meeting them head on to ensure that New Yorkers are not left behind. Now we must be forward thinking and proactive, bringing business, government, educators, and unions together with the working public to put in motion a strategic plan for today and tomorrow.

Infrastructure Development

If we want new industry and corporations to move to Northern Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess Counties, we must have the mass transit, housing, roadways, educational opportunities, and communications technology needed for 21st-century business. Few of our local or regional governments have made the changes necessary for the infrastructural needs of today’s jobs. That must change going forward.

Closing of Indian Point

Indian Point’s closing should not have come as a surprise. And while no village or school district should ever be at the mercy of one company, taxpayer, or employer, we have an opportunity to create a template for what business, government, unions, education, and the public can do together to ensure a smooth transition when facing life-altering changes in our communities. Change can be managed and even welcomed, if we work together. This should be a lesson New York learns and never forgets.

Government can assist Cortlandt and the villages in becoming the center for new energy production and manufacturing. Working with the private sector, the nonprofit community, and industry, as well as local colleges, this center can become the hub of renewal, following the past lead set in the past by citizens of these communities that resulted in the cleanup of the Hudson River.

What a legacy this corner of New York will leave future generations as it becomes a center of energy production and development, education and job creation for today and tomorrow. Here, good union jobs, combined with creativity and ingenuity, will reshape our state and provide our local families with the stable economic underpinnings they need and a tax base to ensure strong public education and property values.

The lessons of Indian Point are that we can indeed turn what could have been a human and economic tragedy into a global success, right here in a small corner of New York’s Hudson Valley.

The Environment

There is no compromise on clean water and air. We must put to bed the notion that economic growth is limited when we protect our environment. Reality tells us that the greatest economic growth is possible when we invest in a clean world, where new businesses and new technologies are creating the jobs of tomorrow and today. At the same time, continued efforts to sustain 19th- and 20th-century infrastructure, energy, and policies will kill job growth, as it kills our planet. We can and must invest in our environment and in our future.