Howie Hawkins to Run for Governor as the Progressive Alternative

Howie Hawkins to Run for Governor as the Progressive Alternative

Howie Hawkins announced today that he will run for Governor as the progressive alternative to the pro-austerity and anti-union policies of the Democratic incumbent Andrew Cuomo and his Republican challenger Rob Astorino. "I am calling for a Green New Deal for New York to establish the human right of all New Yorkers to economic security and prosperity, including decent jobs, living wages, publicly-funded health care, good public education from pre-K through college, and affordable housing, mass transit, and clean energy,” said Hawkins, a working Teamster who unloads trucks at night at UPS in Syracuse.

Howie Hawkins To Run for Governor as the Progressive Alternative

Howie Hawkins announced today that he will run for Governor as the progressive alternative to the pro-austerity and anti-union policies of the Democratic incumbent Andrew Cuomo and his Republican challenger Rob Astorino.

Hawkins will ask for the Green Party nomination at its state convention in Troy on May 17. As the Green gubernatorial candidate in 2010, he came in third out of seven candidates with 59,906 votes, well above the 50,000 votes needed to secure a ballot line for the Green Party for the next four years.

A Green New Deal for New York

"I am calling for a Green New Deal for New York to establish the human right of all New Yorkers to economic security and prosperity, including decent jobs, living wages, publicly-funded health care, good public education from pre-K through college, and affordable housing, mass transit, and clean energy,” said Hawkins, a working Teamster who unloads trucks at night at UPS in Syracuse.

“The conservative economic policies of Governor Cuomo are fiscally and socially irresponsible,” said Hawkins
“His tax cuts and corporate welfare for the rich and tax caps and funding cuts for public schools and local governments have created fiscal mayhem and social neglect in our communities.”

“Astorino wants even more tax cuts for the rich and spending cuts for the rest of us. The Cuomo/Astorino program of tax cuts for the rich will be paid for by working people as cuts to our local schools and municipal services,” said Hawkins .

Opt Out of Corporate Educational Reform

Hawkins also had harsh criticisms for Cuomo's education agenda for shortchanging funding for public education, pushing high-stakes testing linked to the Common Core Standards to evaluate schools and teachers, undermining teachers' professional autonomy, and favoring private charter schools over public schools.

“The roots of low achievement for some schools and students lie in concentrated poverty, segregation by race and class, and underfunding,” Hawkins said. “Cuomo's high-stakes testing regime is designed to fail the underfunded schools and teachers of low-income children in order to privatize the schools and de-unionize and downgrade the teaching profession. It won't better educate disadvantaged students. It just punishes them for being disadvantaged.”

“It is time to opt out of high-stakes testing, Common Core, and the federal carrots and sticks of Race To The Top. It is time to opt in to fully-funded, desegregated schools where teachers in the schools – not outside corporate contractors – write the common standards and the tests and use them to educate children, not to close schools and fire teachers,” said Hawkins.

Hawkins called for expanding public education from early childhood through college. He supports statewide universal full day Pre-K and Kindergarten with certified and unionized educators. For public higher education, he supports free tuition at CUNY, SUNY, and community colleges.

"Cuomo and his Republican allies in the Senate have defied the courts' orders to fully fund the constitutionally required sound basic education. The cumulative shortfall on Foundation Aid to meet this constitutional requirement is now over $9 billion. The state is being sued for this failure. Cuomo's underfunding of education is forcing school districts, particularly those in inner cities and rural areas, to hike regressive property taxes, cut staffing and programs, and many will go broke," said Hawkins.

Hawkins said that Cuomo's hostility to public school teachers and their unions and his support for charter schools must be understood in light of his large campaign contributions from wealthy hedge fund managers who profit from the favorable tax treatment of investments in charter schools and who like the fact that most charters are non-union.

Progressive Tax Reform and Revenue Sharing

Cuomo's Five-Year Financial Plan keeps revenue sharing with local governments flat at a time when scores of local governments and school districts are headed for insolvency and a takeover by state Control Boards. Hawkins said he would restore the tax and revenue sharing policies of the 1970s.

Hawkins said the 1970s progressive income tax structure today would provide a tax cut for 95% of New Yorkers while raising at least $8 billion a year in additional state revenue. He would cut out tax breaks and subsidies for big business to save another $7 billion a year. He would end the 100% rebate of the state's Stock Transfer Tax to Wall Street traders, which cost the state $12 billion last year. Hawkins said he would use the over $25 billion in additional revenues to restore revenue sharing to its original standard of 8% of state revenues, which is now at less than 1%, and to pay for his Green New Deal program.

Hawkins said his revenue sharing program would let local communities decide for themselves how much to devote to property tax relief and how much to schools and municipal services. “Cuomo's top-down tax cuts for tax caps program is another unfunded state mandate. The taxes we paid the state should pay for its mandates with revenue sharing. Our local governments should have more home rule, not less,” said Hawkins.

“The theory behind the Cuomo/Astorino corporate welfare tax program,” said Hawkins, “is that by giving the rich more money, they will invest, create good jobs, and the benefits will trickle down. New York and the United States have been practicing bipartisan trickle down economics for nearly four decades. The result has been a radical redistribution of wealth and income from working people to the very rich.”

“The difference between the dominant forces in the Democratic and Republican parties today seems to be that while they both want to repeal the New Deal, the Republicans also want to repeal the Enlightenment with their rejection of science concerning evolution and climate change,” Hawkins said.

100% Clean Energy by 2030

“A revitalized public sector and public investments in housing, energy, environmental protection, mass transit, and public services are the fastest and cheapest ways to create good jobs for the 1.5 million New Yorkers who are unemployed or working part-time involuntarily. The centerpiece of the Green New Deal is a commitment to building a 100% clean energy system by 2030,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins cited a report by a team of engineers and economists led by Prof. Mark Jacobsen of Stanford that makes the case that 100% renewable energy from wind, water, and solar sources by 2030 in New York State is technologically and economically feasible.

“What is missing is the political will,” Hawkins said. “The clean energy commitment is also a full employment program because the Jacobson study finds that building the clean energy system will create 4.5 million jobs.”

Hawkins supports the shut down of Indian Point and other nuclear power plants, and a ban on fracking for natural gas. His other energy proposals include: a carbon tax; funding mass transit and bike infrastructure rather than more cars and sprawl; sustainable organic farming; divesting public pension funds from fossil fuel companies; no new fossil fuel infrastructure, including gas pipelines and gas power plants; and no train and barge shipping of Bakken fracked oil and Alberta tar sands through New York State.

Clean Money, Clean Elections

"It's almost newsworthy when a week goes by without some elected official getting indicted or convicted. So-called good government groups ran campaign ads last year praising Cuomo for his leadership on campaign finance reform, but all we ended up with is a flawed pilot program seemingly designed to recruit a Republican challenger to Tom DiNapoli, who Cuomo doesn't like. And in exchange for this pathetic program, Cuomo disbanded the Moreland Commission, which he claimed was going to be his hammer against political corruption. It is time to put an end to this farce," said Hawkins.

Hawkins is a long time advocate of a “Clean Money” system of full public campaign financing like Arizona and Maine have. The partial public finance system touted by Cuomo and other Democrats provides a limited amount of public funding alongside unlimited private financing. Hawkins favors the Clean Money system where candidates who opt in to public financing qualify by raising a reasonable number of $5 donations to demonstrate support. They then receive equal public grants sufficient to get their message out to voters. They only use “clean” public money and cannot spend “dirty” private money.

Hawkins also supports proportional representation for legislative elections, instant runoff voting for executive offices like Governor, and an amendment the U.S. Constitution to overturn the Supreme Court doctrines of corporate personhood and money-is-speech that severely restrict regulation of corporations and election financing.

Green Independence Gives Political Leverage

Hawkins said the best way to clean up the corruption at the State Capitol is to throw out the two corporate-funded major parties.

“More important than the details of the Green platform is the Green Party's independence from corporate money and influence. The Green Party's goal is to organize and empower working people to act and speak for themselves. We reject the fusion policies of the other so-called third parties with ballot lines in New York State. They ask for votes for major party candidates on their party lines in hopes of influencing the major parties. The real message the major party candidates get is that our votes can be taken for granted because we will vote for them one way or another,” said Hawkins.

Hawkins noted that Democratic elected officials who were also on Working Families Party ballot line include Cuomo, a host of Democratic legislators, and every member of the Senate's Independent Democratic Conference whose coalition with the Republicans gave the minority Republicans a veto on the progressive reforms that the Working Families Party had hoped the votes on their ballot line would yield, including public campaign finance, the Dream Act, and restoring full Foundation Aid for pubic schools.

“The fingerprints of legislators who were on the Working Families Party ballot line are all over the Cuomo austerity budget just adopted that Working Families is now protesting. Independent Green candidate make the Democrats and Republicans compete for votes by offering voters a third choice with a progressive policy platform. Working people's political independence from the corporate parties gives us far more power and leverage than symbolic votes on a send-them-a-message ballot line for corporate party politicians,” said Hawkins.

"The historic role of third parties has been to advance issues like abolition, women's suffrage, social security, minimum wages, and unemployment insurance. We have seen this in New York where the Green Party's initial calls for marijuana reform, marriage equality, a fracking ban, and measures to reduce income inequality came to be widely embraced," noted Hawkins.

Hawkins gave as examples the Green Party's 1998 ticket of drug policy reformers Al Lewis for Governor and Dr. Alice Green for Lt. Governor helping to launch the movement to end the Rockefeller Drug laws; Jason West and Rebecca Rotzler, the Green mayor and deputy mayor of the village of New Paltz, performing same-sex marriages in 2004 helping to spearhead the movement for marriage equality that is now New York law; Hawkins' own gubernatorial campaign in 2010 calling for a ban on fracking helping to convince the many environmentalists to support a ban rather than their positions at that time of promoting fracked gas as the “bridge fuel” to renewable energy or calling for a moratorium while fracking was studied.

Reducing Income Inequality

As he has did four years ago, Hawkins will campaign to reverse the growing income inequality in New York, which is the most extreme of any state with the share of income going to the wealthiest 1% more than tripling from 10% from in 1980 to 30-35% in the years since 2007.

“The main purpose of progressive tax reform is to finance public services in a fiscally responsible manner. Progressive tax and budget policies can only partially redress unjust inequalities that have been generated in the first place in the workplace. If we really want to address inequality, we need to enhance workers rights and support cooperatives and public enterprises that distribute the fruits of labor according to work, not ownership,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins wants the state minimum wage raised to at least $15 an hour, index it to inflation, and give local governments home rule power to raise it higher to reflect local living costs if they so choose.

Instead of tax breaks and subsidies for investor-owned businesses, Hawkins would devote economic development funds to technical assistance and financing for worker and consumer cooperatives. He proposes a state bank to partner with local community banks and credit unions in financing for infrastructure projects and businesses, with a priority on cooperatives. The bank and state Economic Development department would provide business planning, technical assistance, and mentoring for cooperatives. He also favors public power in the energy sector to enable the democratic and decentralized planning and financing of a clean energy system based on distributed energy generation linked by an interactive smart grid.

Hawkins will also campaign for a single-payer, publicly-financed health care program and call upon the Assembly to vote on the Gottfried single payer bill, which has over 70 co-sponsors, in the 2014 legislative session to get Assembly members on record before the November election.

Hawkins and the Green Party would protect and strengthen the rights of undocumented people, including passage of the Dream Act to increase educational opportunities for undocumented youth, drivers licenses for the undocumented, and prohibiting state employees from inquiring about a person's immigration status in the course of performing their duties.

About Howie Hawkins and the Green Party

Howie has been an organizer for peace, justice, labor, and the environment since 1967. A former Marine, he helped organize opposition to the Vietnam War. In the 70s and 80s, he was a leader in the anti-apartheid divestment movement to end US corporate investment in the system of racist labor exploitation in South Africa. He was a co-founder of the anti-nuclear Clamshell Alliance in 1976 and the Green Party in the US in 1984. He is a member of the socialist organization, Solidarity. Howie is a member of Teamsters Local 317 and active in Teamsters for a Democratic Union, US Labor Against the War, and the Labor Campaign for Single Payer Healthcare. He received 40% of the vote in his 2013 run for Syracuse City Council.

The Green Party of New York is committed to the principals of ecology, grassroots democracy, nonviolence and social and economic justice.

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