Christopher H. Schaeffer is running for New York State Senate

Sunday, September 7, 2008

When I first thought about running for state senate, I didn’t have an agenda; I only had my values. Values that I didn’t feel the state government shared. I didn’t have a desire to be a politician; I only had the desire to make our state a better place to live. I didn’t have a big political machine backing me up; I did have everyday people encouraging me, telling me this is something worth doing, this is something that needs to be done, and this is something that can be done.
As I’m sure everyone is painfully aware, New York State has the second highest taxes in the nation. Now the state government has done a wonderful job in the past few years of cutting state taxes with out cutting services. They used a very simple formula to achieve this; they simply cut funding to local government and require them to continue offering services at the same level. This has worked wonderfully and state taxes have been lowered. This little smoke and mirrors trick however did not provide any relief for us taxpayers. It only changed which tax collector we are paying our outrageous taxes to. Now local governments have been forced to raise taxes to meet the obligations the state has forced on them. Our county governments, our municipal governments and our school systems have all been directly affected by the states unfounded mandates. We need to demand real change and not accept more smoke and mirrors.
As your representative in the State Senate I will not vote for any budget that is not balanced. I will not vote for any unfunded mandates. I will not vote for any budget that does not truly lower taxes. I will work to change the “use it or loose it” budget mentality that has caused us to have the second highest taxes in the nation. I will support changes in the budget process that encourage department managers to reduce waste in their departments. I will support changes in government that reduce duplication and triplication.
I was talking to a disabled man in the town of Allegany the other day, he told me how every time a nurse comes to visit him for 15 minuets it takes the nurse another 45 minuets to fill out all the paperwork. How is this productive? Are we paying state employees to do the work we hired them to do? The work they are trained to do? The work they want to do? Or are we paying them to work one quarter of an hour then spend three quarters of an hour filling out paperwork documenting their 15 minutes of work? We need to work smarter not harder.
While the majority of state budget cutting needs to come from department heads there are two areas that are the sole responsibility of our elected leaders, member items and staff, or to put it another way PORK. With $170 million in this year’s budget for member items and an additional quarter billion for money already pledged is it a wonder we have a deficit? These member items really bothers me, we have no way of knowing where this money is going. There is no transparency. It’s like our elected officials think of our tax money as spreading around money. My opponent is very good at this, not a week goes by when she hasn’t got her picture in the paper for handing out checks. She also has one of the largest staffs in the senate, why not it’s not like it’s her money it’s yours. You deserve better, you deserve a senator who realizes your taxes are to high and wants to lower them. Not a senator who thinks of your taxes as found money.
Another issue I feel passionate about is health care. In my opinion it is criminal that the country that is the leader of the free world can’t even guarantee it’s citizen’s basic health care. Our citizens pay more per person than any other industrialized country for health care and yet, the United States is the only member of the G8 that does not have universal health care. We also have the highest rates of infant mortality and death by preventable diseases of any industrialized county. For three decades the federal government has been trying to enact universal health care legislation, legislation that will cover every single American. And I hope they do it. But I’m not going to hold my breath.
If the federal government wont act then New York State must act. We need to protect our own. It is inexcusable that the very poor and very rich do not have to worry about how they’re going to afford unexpected medical expenses but the majority of us have to either pay out of pocket or if we are lucky enough to have a job with benefits, hope that our employer can afford decent medical coverage. I will fight for universal health care to ensure that every New Yorker rich, poor or middle class gets the health care they deserve.
I’ve lived the majority of my adult life rural Chautauqua County. For over 15 years we’ve had livestock. My kids grew up in 4H. The pork I have in my freezer at home came from a hog raised by a 4H’er in Cattaraugus County. I know how important a healthy environment is. I also drive a car to work every day, and just like you I have to heat my home in the winter. We know the damage burning fossil fuels does to our environment; we know how expensive oil is. Most of us could make an educated guess as to how much the price of gas is going to go up for every dollar the price of oil goes up.
You know what? New York State doesn’t have much in the line of oil deposits; we don’t have a lot of coal either. You know what we do have? One of the largest deposits of natural gas in the country. You know what else we have? Some of the most consistent winds in the country. Why are we using oil and coal to make our electricity? We need to encourage the production of our own resources not be importing some other state or even some other countries resources.
Clean burning technology is in its infancy but there have already been successful clean burning test projects for each fossil fuel. Wind energy has been around for decades but cheap foreign oil made it to expensive to produce on a large scale. The days of cheap foreign oil are over and New York has a historic chance to move from an energy importer to an energy exporter. New York State needs to embrace this technology, adopt this technology, produce this technology and export this technology. We need to create jobs for our citizens, producing our own natural resources, constructing wind farms, producing the components for these clean burning power plants and wind mills.
When you send me to Albany I promises to work towards a clean energy independent New York.

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