Pubdate: Fri, 12 Jan 2001
Source: Daily Gazette (NY)
Copyright: 2001 The Gazette Newspapers
Contact:  P.O. Box 1090, Schenectady, NY 12301-1090
Fax: (518) 395-3072
Author: Mark A. Dunlea
Note: The writer is vice chairman of the Green Party.


Campaign finance reform, universal health care, a higher minimum wage
and a halt to the genetic engineering of our food supply are top state
legislative priorities for the Greens this year. Unfortunately,
support for such issues was noticeably absent from Gov. Pataki's
recent State of the State address.

Our political system is awash in special-interest money. Candidates at
the federal and state level raised record levels of campaign
contributions, ensuring that virtually every incumbent was re-elected.
Besides public campaign financing, we need to overhaul our voting
machinery and enact reforms such as same-day voter registration, a
nonpartisan Board of Elections, preferential voting and proportional

While the governor acknowledged the need to reform funding for
schools, he failed to call for equity or an increase in funding. We
need to end the practice where the quality of a child's education
depends upon the wealth of his community.

The governor did announce an increase in funding for after-school
programs, but far short of the real need. Also needed is more funding
for child care.

The governor, though acknowledging the need for dramatic reforms to
the Rockefeller drug laws, provided no specifics. It is time to admit
the war on drugs has been a disaster. Drug use has not been reduced,
violence from the drug trade has destroyed many inner-city
communities, and the United States now has the highest prison
population in the world, primarily targeting people of color. Drug
abuse should be treated not as a criminal problem, but with prevention
and treatment programs. It is a scandal that we spend more on prisons
than on higher education.

The governor called for more than $1 billion worth of new tax
giveaways to large businesses, yet failed to announce any safeguards
to hold these companies accountable for creating jobs with such public
subsidies - particularly living-wage jobs.

The governor did recognize the need to refinance the state Superfund
program to clean up toxic sites - after allowing it to run out of
money. He did not mention that he wants to weaken cleanup standards
while resisting efforts to make corporate polluters pay a fairer share
of the bill.

The Green Party urges local residents to contact the governor about
these issues. His address is State Capitol, Albany, N.Y. 12224.

MARK A. DUNLEA, Poestenkill

The writer is vice chairman of the Green Party. 
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