By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO August 29, 2006 Many of the countys important Republican leaders gathered at the partys new headquarters on Broadway in Monticello for a fundraiser and a speech by John Faso, the state partys candidate for Governor. Faso will be squaring off with Democratic candidate Elliot Spitzer in an election this November.
Republican Party Chairman John LiGreci led the proceedings, which featured a crowd that included State Senator John Bonacic, District Attorney Stephen Lungen, Sheriff Michael Schiff, Undersheriff Eric Chaboty, county legislators Leni Binder and Rodney Gaebel, former party chairman Greg Goldstein, former County Manager Dan Briggs and current candidates for office such as Janet Newberg and Gary Siegel.
Faso served in the New York State Assembly for about two decades, and held the rank of Minority Leader for four years before an unsuccessful run for State Comptroller in 2002 against Alan Hevesi. Since then, he has been practicing law privately and has been a board member of the Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority.
During a memorized speech, Faso appeared to be a skilled orator as he delivered a number of negative statistics about the current state of New York affairs. Among them: the state tax rate is over 50 percent higher than the national average; school taxes are over 60 percent higher than the national average; workers compensation is over 70 percent above the national average; energy costs place the state in the top three highest in the nation; Migration out of New York is higher than any other state. New York spends more on Medicaid (45 billion dollars) than Florida and Texas combined, he said. Medicaid is ripe with fraud, he charged.
As he travels across the state, Faso keeps hearing that parents are complaining about their children leaving New York for jobs. And they are expressing worries that they too, will have to leave after they retire because of rising taxes.
Solutions? Faso proposed capping school taxes. The system is like a car without brakes, he stated. Schools also need state mandate relief, because many of their expenses are handed down from Albany. He also suggested a bulk purchasing program between schools and BOCES.
Faso called for more accountability in the schools. New York spends almost $14,000 per student (top three in the nation), yet ranks 25th in terms of academic performance. School taxes have gone up an average of 45 percent throughout the state over the last four years, he said.
He attacked Spitzers plan on the schools, which would only increase the STAR program, which only gives school tax relief to those in lower income brackets. Faso said the plan would require citizens to report their incomes to local assessors.
Faso also alleged that Spitzers health care plan would add one million more people to the Medicaid rolls, which would further raise taxes.
He also charged Spitzer with having a desire to close the Indian Point energy plant, which supplies 11 percent of the states power. This would only increase growing energy expenses, he pointed out.
This is the pre-eminent state in the union, but were in trouble, he concluded.
Fasos candidate for Lieutenant Governor is Scott Vanderhoef, the four-term Rockland County Executive. Vanderhoef used his time to go on the attack against Spitzer, who he charged as having problems with his temperament. The county executive said that Spitzer has failed to go after Medicaid fraud during his term as attorney general. Medicaid is the largest source of fraud in the state, he said.
As county executive, Vanderhoef is considered one of the top leaders in the state fighting Medicaid fraud. His county was the first to use IBM's VERIFY NY computer program to detect fraud in order to identify millions of dollars in potential Medicaid provider fraud and recover taxpayer money.
Bonacic introduced Faso as the one who knows more about state government and how to reform it, relieve property taxes and push for pension reform. He charged Spitzer with having a plan which would raise taxes. The new governor will have to take out the dysfunctional Shelly Silver, said Bonacic. The senator called the Assembly Speaker the root of all problems.
Noel Van Swol commented on Fasos speech afterwards. It was impressive. I wish he had the parity in funding. It would make all the difference.
Van Swol said he supports state funding of political races, in order to clear them of the corrupting influence of Wall Street and labor groups.
The partys new headquarters for this Novembers elections are at 424 Broadway, at the former Promenade building owned by local Republican Ray Nargizian.