What Rob Astorino Offers New York City

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GOP nominee for governor Rob Astorino.

Astorino for governor flckr

GOP nominee for governor Rob Astorino.

City Limits invited all leading gubernatorial candidates to submit op-eds making their case to city voters. Here is what the Republican nominee submitted.

Twenty-one years ago, things had gotten so bad in New York City that New Yorkers did something unthinkable – they elected a Republican promising reform.

Rudy Giuliani, and then Mike Bloomberg after him, delivered on their reform pledges and crime fell dramatically and the economy came roaring back.

New York State as a whole faces a similar situation today that the city faced 21 years ago. The state is at a similar crossroads and failing. The question is do New Yorkers go again with the Republican who is promising reform? Or do we continue down the path of mediocrity and status quo.

Despite Andrew Cuomo’s claims to the contrary, New York is losing big time.

We are the highest taxed state in the nation.

We have the worst economic outlook.

We have the 2nd worst business climate.

Our economy is the 4th worst, growing last year at an anemic rate of 0.7 percent (less than half of the country’s anemic rate).

Our cities (and many neighborhoods in New York) are among the most impoverished in the nation.

Our government is the most corrupt with nine legislators removed from office for criminal or unethical behavior in just the past two years. And the government is now headed by Andrew Cuomo who himself is under a federal investigation for using his office to protect some of his big donors from potential prosecution.

What’s it all add up to? 400,000 New Yorkers fleeing the state for greener pastures elsewhere. Some pockets of the city are doing well, but the rest of the city and the overwhelming majority of this state are not.

My candidacy is a threat, not only to Andrew Cuomo but also to the status quo in Albany. A status quo where only Cuomo’s powerful and well connected friends gets ahead. I’m running for governor to fight for the rest of us.

I was twice elected Westchester County Executive by large margins in a county where there are twice as many Democrats as Republicans. I won a majority of the Hispanic vote, Women’s vote, and won about 30 percent of the Democrat vote and 25 percent of the black vote.

I won their support because I delivered on the promises I made (on reform, tax cuts, job gains, etc.), worked hard for every community and treated all with respect.

I will do the same as governor.

We’ll hold the line on spending and cut taxes. I will direct my budget division and tax department on Day 1 to come up with a detailed plan for a flatter and fairer income tax system that will have two brackets instead of eight and which will give New York one of the lowest tax rates in the Northeast.

My inclination is for two rates – 4 percent for all income under $200,000 ($300,000 for married couples) and 6 percent for all marginal income above $200,000 ($300,000 for married couples). And to reduce the four-page tax form down to one page.

To help create jobs we’ll also cut the corporate franchise tax to 5.9 percent, and eliminate both the estate tax and 18a tax assessment on utility bills.

To further improve our business climate, I will sign an executive order instituting a moratorium on any new regulation, and a thorough review of the approximately 750,000 regulations currently on the books.

I will invest a large portion of the $5 billion in bank settlement money, from BNP Paribas and others, into the most desperately needed repairs to our roads, bridges and mass transit, improving safety and quality of life and creating thousands of good jobs. That includes the new Tappan Zee bridge and the MTA capital plan, so we can hold down tolls and fares.

We’ll accelerate technology start-ups in the city and beyond by modeling after what Silicon Valley does well – encouraging private capital; streamlining the tech-transfer process at state colleges and universities; passing a law that bans the enforceability of “non-compete agreements”; and supporting entrepreneurial networks.

We’ll replace Common Core with better standards developed by New York education experts and with input from parents and teachers.

My education plan also calls for direct elections for the Board of Regents; increasing the availability of vocational training and STEM study in schools; better prepare a student to succeed in college, career and in life; and give students and parents more choices for school and for study.

For students and parents where the local public school is determined to be failing charter schools and parochial school scholarships will be an option.

We’ll crack down on Albany corruption. We’ll increase transparency and accountability and demand term limits for all state lawmakers and a loss of taxpayer-funded pension for any public official convicted of felony corruption.

We’ll undertake an unprecedented effort to combat poverty but it will be guided by the goals of empowerment, self-reliance and opportunity – not by simply throwing more money into welfare programs. Generational dependency is nothing to celebrate. We’ll celebrate independence and empowerment. And as governor I won’t grant the waiver that Mayor de Blasio seeks to forgo the work requirement for able-bodied adults on public assistance. Work is a good thing and should always be encouraged.

We will transform our public assistance programs, provide skills training and entrepreneurial assistance, and work with local Church and community leaders to help emphasize the critical, and often neglected, role of the father in the life of the child.

And with regards to the state’s relationship with the city, I will do everything in my power to help the city succeed.

We need it to. On Election Night last November I called Mayor De Blasio to congratulate him and wish him well. It is in everyone’s interest throughout the city and state that New York City continue it 21 years of progress.

I think one of the best decisions the Mayor made was in selecting Bill Bratton as Police Commissioner.

Rudy Giuliani and Mike Bloomberg showed what unlimited potential the city has if its residents feel safe and secure and crime is kept under control.

In selecting Bratton, Mayor De Blasio showed that he does not want to go back to the bad old days when it comes to crime. I believe him and will help him.

Where we disagree, we will do so respectfully.

The Mayor’s first budget increased spending 7 percent. That’s a lot and hopefully it won’t be the start of a trend.

The budget also contained gimmicks to help it pretend to be balanced and next year’s deficit is projected to go from $1.1 billion to $2.2 billion. And in three years, from $370 million to $3.2 billion.

It’s the type of budgeting that got New York City in major trouble back in the 70’s. A legacy from that time is the New York State Financial Control Board that still exists today to provide the state with powerful oversight over the city budget and finances.

As governor, I’ll provide that oversight but more importantly I will be an active partner with the city to ensure the fulfillment of common goals of public safety, affordability and good schools.

There’s much to be done. I’m ready to get to work.