Platform

Mark Dunlea is running on a platform that embodies the values of New Yorkers.

Divest NY State Pension Plan from Fossil Fuels

Climate change is the greatest threat to humanity. We need to take swift action to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions while transitioning to 100% clean energy by 2030. Mark Dunlea supports a Green New Deal.

A simple step the State Comptroller can take it to stop investing in fossil fuels that are driving global warming.

For 5 years, Mark has been a lead organizer with 350.org and other groups to get NYC and the state to divest our pension funds from fossil fuels. NYC said yes, the Governor has said yes, but state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, the sole state trustee, has said no. He keeps $6 billion in Exxon and other fossil fuel companies.

Time is running out to solve climate change. We need a State Comptroller who will be a national leader in standing up for effective climate action, starting with divesting our state pension funds from fossil fuels.

Instead of divesting, DiNapoli has pushed for shareholder advocacy despite it having virtually no impact over the past 50 years. Federal security rules also prohibit shareholder resolutions from addressing the core business of a company – such as the need to keep 80% of the fossil fuels in the ground rather than burning it.

350.org commissioned a study several years ago that showed if the state had divested when DiNapoli was first urged by divestment advocates to do so, the pension fund would have an extra $5 billion in revenue. Dunlea said that investing in fossil fuels is a risky financial decision following the worldwide agreement to phase them out due to their significant contribution to climate change.

Reform Economic Development Spending

New York gives billions of tax dollars away annually in the name of job creation. In reality, the fund often goes to those who make major campaign contributions and their promised jobs often fail to materialize.

While at Hunger Action Network, Mark Dunlea introduced legislation to crack down on the state’s corporate welfare efforts. Few reforms however have been enacted.

First, economic development should not be tax giveaways to favored firms. Instead, local communities should decide what type of jobs and businesses they want to create and then investments in infrastructure needs for such jobs would be made. Thus the investments would stay in the community. Too often firms who get such awards leave the area once the award is ended and look for a new deal elsewhere.

Second, enforceable contracts need to be written with clear standards for the jobs to be created. And if the jobs don’t materialize then the company needs to return the tax giveaways they received.

Be the State’s Fiscal Watchdog

The Comptroller needs to ensure that the state’s money is being spent probably.

More than 30 state legislators have been sent to jail or forced to resign in recent years due to stealing tax dollars and other public corruption. The State Comptroller needs to be more aggressive in combating such fraud.

As a Town Board member, Mark Dunlea cut costs by requiring town contracts to go out to bid. One result was that the Chair of the County Democratic Party went to prison for two years because of his role in the town insurance contract.

The Comptroller needs to speak out when year after year the Governor and state legislature ignore court orders to fairly fund our inner city and rural schools.

The Comptroller should ensure that the property tax is not being unfairly shifted onto lower income taxpayers. While a student at RPI, Dunlea documented that low-income properties were being assessed at a significantly higher rate than more affluent property.

Crack Down on Public Corruption

New York needs to ban pay-to-play. If your company gets a state contract for services or good, you should not be allowed to make campaign contributions.

As a law student working with NYPIRG, Mark Dunlea wrote a law giving New York residents the right to sue to recover illegal expenditures.

Reduce Tax burden on low and moderate income households

If New York were to return to the more progressive personal income tax it had in the early 1970s, working and middle class New Yorkers would get a tax cut and the state would still raise at least $8 billion more in revenues.

New York state leads the nation in income inequality. We have the largest gap between those that earn the most and those that earn the least. Nearly half (48 percent) of the total increase in incomes in New York from 2009 to 2015 accrued to the wealthiest 1 percent.

The wealthiest 1 percent of New Yorkers pay a smaller share of their income in combined state and local taxes than lower and middle-income families. New York households with incomes under $100,000 pay higher effective state and local tax rates (ranging from 10.4 percent to 12 percent) than the wealthiest 1 percent of households (who pay 8.1 percent).

In New York, most of rich people’s tax bill goes for the state income tax while low- and middle-income residents pay most of their tax bill for property and sales tax. What New York has done over the last 30 years has been to dramatically cut the top income tax rate for the wealthiest while slightly raising the bottom income tax bracket. The state has also shifted more of the overall burden onto the regressive sales and property tax.

Restore 8% State Revenue Sharing to Local Governments

Governor Rockefeller realized that local governments in New York only have regressive property and sales tax by which they can raise revenues. Since the state has more progressive revenue tools at their disposal, starting with the state income tax, he passed legislation to share state revenues with local governments. Until recently, Section 54 of the State Finance Law required the state to share 8% of their revenues with local counties.

Restore state revenue sharing with municipal governments (AIM – Aid and Incentives for Municipalities) to 8% of state revenues ($5.8 billion a year).

Restoring revenue sharing would enable local governments to cut property taxes – something that has not happened under Cuomo’s tax cap.

Local governments should have the authority without state approval to enact a local income tax. This is especially important in urban areas which often have to provide government services during the day to tens of thousands of workers who then return home at night to suburban communities without contributing to the cost of such services.

Stop Rebating the State Stock Transfer Tax

For more than a century , New York has collected a very small tax (much less than the sales tax) on each stock transfer, but then  rebates the tax, now around $16 billion annually, back to Wall Street  speculators. The tax is hardly noticeable for anyone who invests in Wall Street, primarily hitting those who treat the Stock Market as a casino, making hundreds of trades daily.

The revenue from the Stock Transfer Tax for more than 50 years went to the NYC government. In 1979 the state took control of the Stock Transfer tax, gave the city the revenues from another tax that they then soon repealed, and then began to rebate the transfer tax back to Wall Street speculators. For more than 15 years Mark Dunlea has helped organized several campaigns to at least a portion of the tax revenue to help pay for local services including the MTA. But it has been tough to get state lawmakers to stand up to Wall Street and their Campaign Contributions.

Be a Spokesperson on How to Save Money – Single Payer Health Care

For a decade Mark Dunlea has pushed the State Comptroller’s Office to do a study of the financial impact of moving to a state single payer health care system, which would eliminate private health insurance companies and the tremendous costs they impose on the health care system. Studies done by the Governor’s office and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst have found that such a universal health care system could lower overall annual health care costs by $40 billion or more. It would also end the need to fund Medicaid out of county property taxes.

Enact a State Carbon Tax

Those who are driving global warming through burning fuels and creating greenhouse gas emissions should pay for the damages they cause. It is estimated that burning fossil fuels cause $30 billion a year in damages in NY, started with higher health care costs due to air pollution while causing an extra 3,000 deaths per year.

Mark Dunlea helped introduced a state carbon tax bill (A107 / S2846). The carbon tax would start at $35 a ton and then increase in annual increments of $15 a ton. 60% of the revenues would be rebated to low and moderate income consumers. The remaining forty percent will support the transition to one hundred percent clean energy in the state, to support mass transit to reduce carbon emissions, and to improve climate change adaptation.

A carbon tax is the most efficient means to instill crucial price signals that spur carbon-reducing investment.

Polls show that a plurality (60%) of all Americans, including Republicans, support a carbon tax if the revenues are used for renewable energy.

NYS should sue fossil fuel companies to make them pay for damages they have caused from climate change. NYC recently sued.

Improve Audits of State and Local Agencies

The Comptroller’s office has the authority to conduct audits of how well government agencies are doing their jobs and make recommendations for improvement.

Mark Dunlea did get the Comptroller to do an audit of the State Labor Department and their efforts to crack down on wage theft. Low-income employees in the state are underpaid an estimated billion dollars annually yet the Labor Department helps them collect less than $30 million annually. The Comptroller should have proposed much stronger reforms in the Labor Department, including increased staffing.

The state delegates administration of the various federal and state public benefit programs to the local counties. Since the state makes the county pay a share of the cost of the programs, they have a financial interest in reducing the number of people assisted. The Comptroller should be more assertive in ensuring compliance with the law on providing benefits while also working to ensure that the local districts have the resources and training needed to do their job.

Create a Public Bank

The hugely successful public Bank of North Dakota was set up in 1918 to free farmers and small businessmen from the clutches of out-of-state bankers and railroad men. Today New York businesses and consumers need a public Bank of New York to free local businesses from a predatory Wall Street and finance the investments needed to restore jobs and prosperity. This includes investments in renewable energy.

The state bank would be capitalized by the deposits of state tax revenues and from private individuals, businesses, and pension funds that want to invest in the future of New York. This capital would then be invested in productive ventures in New York State that benefit the people. The state bank will keep the interest collected for the benefit of the people.

Inact Public Campaign Financing

In order to free state government from control by wealthy special interests and pay-to-play corruption, election and ethics reform must include full public financing of state elections on the model used by Arizona and Maine. In this system, ballot-qualified candidates who opt in receive a public campaign grant sufficient to communicate their message to all voters in their district. They cannot raise and spend private money. They only use clean public money.

In the 2014 elections, a public financing pilot program was enacted for State Comptroller. The Democrat refused to participate and the Republican was not able to raise enough money to quality.

The Democrats’ bill for partial public campaign financing through matching funds for small donations leaves in place unlimited private campaign financing. It’s just adds some public financing as a cover for the same old system of legalized bribery. It’s a reform that doesn’t reform.

Ban Play to Pay Campaign Contributions

New York needs to ban pay-to-play. If your company gets a state contract for services or good, you should not be allowed to make campaign contributions.