Assembly Candidates Discuss Taxes, Funding Needs

Editor’s note: This is the final story in a series on a debate held by The Post-Journal and The OBSERVER between New York State Assembly candidates Andy Goodell and Jason Perdue.

Medicaid and welfare are the biggest tax drivers in New York state, according to incumbent Assemblyman Andy Goodell.

On the other side, challenger Jason Perdue said he’s concerned about taxes and believes Chautauqua County isn’t getting its fair return for local schools, libraries and infrastructure projects.

Those heading to the polls next Tuesday will have the opportunity to vote for Goodell, Republican, or Perdue, Democrat, to represent Chautauqua County residents in Albany. Goodell is looking to secure his fourth term in office while Perdue, newcomer and district store manager, vies for a spot to bring a new perspective and agenda to the State Capital.

The business tax in New York is fourth best in the nation while the state tax has come in line with the federal tax, but what’s driving property taxes is Medicaid and welfare, according to Goodell. Despite the state capping Medicaid cost increases for counties, an initiative of Goodell’s that was picked up by the governor, the assemblyman said reforms are needed to get people out of welfare and into a job.

“I’ve sponsored legislation to streamline the welfare-to-work program to help get people job experience,” Goodell said. “We know that if you drop out of high school, you’re ineligible for about 90 percent of jobs. It’s essential you go back and get that GED so you can be successful.”

“I’ve cosponsored bipartisan legislation to increase the dropout age to 18 for same reason. You shouldn’t be able to drop out at 16, sit at home, watch TV and collect benefits.”

Goodell said he also supports the elimination of state mandates that will dramatically increase government costs, including the New York Health Act, which would provide a comprehensive system of access to health insurance for residents.

“The sponsor of that legislation says it will cost $92 billion in additional taxes. That’s more than double the entire amount of taxes we raise,” Goodell said. “My opponent supports it. I oppose it.”

Perdue said he does support the NY Health Act. Perdue said his concern is solely taxes and affording to live and raise a family in Chautauqua County. Right now, the Democratic candidate said the county isn’t getting it’s fair share of investment as school districts struggle with teachers and students feeling the brunt of it.

“Look around, our schools are underfunded,” Perdue said. “Our libraries are underfunded, specifically the James Prendergast Library. The Jamestown taxpayers were recently asked to pay those costs because our assemblyman failed to obtain full funding necessary to keep hours and programs going. It’s clear that with the taxes we pay here in Chautauqua County, we’re not getting our fair share of investment.”

Perdue said state Sen. Cathy Young has fought long and hard for necessary funding as she needs an assemblyman fighting just as hard. Perdue said the county needs an assemblyman who will decrease the tax burden on residents while giving them a return on investment.

“As a member of the Assembly, my opponent has had a difficult time getting the job done as a member of the minority. This is why Cathy Young is successful in getting the job done, but not just because she’s a member of the Senate majority, (but) because she works hard for us. It’s time that she has a worker in the Assembly working hard for the residents of Chautauqua County.”

Goodell responded by crediting Young for her work and noting their collaboration on issues since bills need approval from both houses. Goodell referenced the work needed to get the $200 million for the Athenex project in Dunkirk through as New York City legislators were threatening to take it out.

“I had to get that through the Assembly. It wasn’t up to Cathy Young to get that through the Assembly. It was up to me and I worked very closely in a bipartisan matter to get it done,” Goodell said.

Overall, Perdue said obtaining more funding for schools, libraries and infrastructure projects in turn will begin to lower the tax burden on residents. Goodell said he’s supported record funding for schools and increased funds for local road projects through the Consolidated Highway Improvement Program.