GLENS FALLS — Marc Molinaro said he is running for governor to make it more affordable for families in the state.
New York’s status as having among the highest property taxes in the nation is causing people to leave the state to find other jobs, according to Molinaro.
Molinaro, the GOP nominee, is proposing to cut local property taxes by about 30 percent. To do that, he proposes that state take back some of the mandates it has put on local governments, such as Medicaid.
“It helps re-establish some ability to be competitive, make us affordable again,” he said Friday in a meeting with The Post-Star editorial board.
Molinaro, who is Dutchess County executive, said the state spending needs to be held to a 3 percent growth cap, and he proposes a 10-year takeback of Medicaid costs from county governments to the state and a 15-year phase-in for New York City.
He also proposes that the state take over the costs for providing indigent legal services, early invention programs for infants and toddlers with disabilities and fully fund preschool special education.
As costs are lowered for local governments, Molinaro said he would mandate that they reduce their tax levies.
He also proposes to partner with private-sector technology companies to modernize state government and lower costs.
Molinaro said he would extend the millionaires’ tax for one year to phase in his property tax cut program, and he would require online retailers to pay sales tax as their brick-and-mortar counterparts do.
Molinaro said it is time for fresh leadership after eight years of Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He faulted the governor’s top-down economic development model, which he said has become infected by corruption.
“If we’re going to revitalize and grow job opportunities, we have to start at the local level,” he said.
Instead of “handing out checks” to businesses, Molinaro said the state should invest in infrastructure such as water and sewer systems. He also believes that state government could help work with local communities on their economic development plans.
“We need to provide the support necessary to move projects from permit to approval more quickly,” he said.
Another disadvantage of the current system, according to Molinaro, is the potential for corruption when the state dangles billions of dollars that can be spent with very little oversight.
Molinaro proposes to reactivate the Moreland Commission to “search and destroy” corruption in state government. He would also like to adopt a statewide ethics code with specific provisions about sexual harassment and an independent ethics board.
He would also prohibit political contributions from companies that have active business with the state during a certain window of a time. He also proposes term limits — two four-year terms for statewide office holders and six two-year terms for legislators.
If the Legislature does not accept these reform proposals as a package, Molinaro said he will include them in his state budget proposal.
“Ending corruption is more important to me than an on-time budget,” he said.
Energy and health care
On the subject of climate change, Molinaro said it is not as simple a flipping a switch and getting off fossil fuels immediately. Rather, there has to be a transition. He supports natural gas and nuclear power plants.
He said people should be educated about what they can do to help the environment, such as planting more trees. When he was a member of the Assembly, he was one of the few Republicans endorsed by the Sierra Club.
He did not rule out fracking in the Southern Tier.
“Only under strict DEC oversight, would we consider it,” he said.
On the subject of health care, Molinaro said he does not support a government-run system. He believes that municipalities and employers should have the ability to pool resources to buy insurance. He also would like to see the elimination of geographic restrictions on where health insurance plans can be sold. He would like to make sure there are protections for pre-existing conditions.
Fairer school funding
Molinaro said the way education aid is distributed needs to be reformed.
“It has been politicized, so dollars are being moved to places not based on need,” he said.
He said he would also like to see more local control over education decision-making and more emphasis on vocational education.
As the parent of a special needs’ child, Molinaro said he would like more consideration for their ability to achieve an education. He said he sees it as dehumanizing the way students with special needs are segregated.
“You are already different and, therefore, you can’t achieve, and we’re going to treat you this way,” he said, characterizing some of the current attitudes.
Molinaro said the state has a lot of strengths, such as a good workforce, natural environment and quality schools.
“What we don’t have is competitiveness and affordability and that’s what we need to return to New York,” he said.
Molinaro has served as Dutchess County executive since 2012. Before that he served in the Assembly representing the 103rd District. He began his political career in 1994 as a trustee and later mayor of the village of Tivoli. He also served in the Dutchess County Legislature.
Molinaro is also facing off against Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins, Libertarian Larry Sharpe and independent Stephanie Miner.