Borrello, Crandall Seek Vacated State Senate Seat

Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello, left, and Curtis Crandall, Allegany County Board of Legislators chairman.

A Republican 57th State Senate District primary will be held Tuesday, June 25, between George Borrello, Chautauqua County executive, and Curtis Crandall, Allegany County Board of Legislators chairman. The Post-Journal asked both candidates the same three questions. Below are their responses.

Question 1: How should the New York Legislature, once legalized recreational marijuana is passed, enact driving while impaired laws so law enforcement can catch drivers who are driving while impaired from using marijuana?

Borrello: New York state is dangerously unprepared for the legalization of recreational marijuana. Properly enforcing the driving-while-impaired laws is just one area. As county executive, I have advocated strongly for the governor and the state legislature to fully understand and take responsibility for the fallout of this poorly thought out proposal to legalize recreational marijuana. There is no “breathalyzer” type device for marijuana and nothing on the horizon. So, currently the most effective method to secure a conviction for someone who is accused of driving while under the influence of any illicit drug is to utilize a drug recognition expert (DRE). This is an officer who had been trained and certified in identifying someone who has operated a vehicle under the influence of drugs like marijuana. In Chautauqua County, there are more than 200 police officers throughout the county. Every single one of those police officers has the tools and the training to identify someone operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. Yet, we only have four certified DREs in the county. In fact, across the entire state the number of DREs is minuscule and nowhere near enough to handle the massive increase inå drugged driving that will occur with legalized recreational marijuana.

Most of the burden will fall on local law enforcement and the state Legislature must act to cover the massive increase in the cost of enforcement. Even the governor’s estimate of $300 million dollars in annual revenue to the state will be a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of properly managing just that aspect of legalization statewide. The best solution for the safety of our communities is to not move forward with legalization.

Crandall: Not having a firm plan in place for driving while impaired while using marijuana is one example of many as to why this legislation should not move forward. Your question assumes that this will be passed, and I do not believe that it should. Once again, a liberal agenda is being pushed through Albany without regard for costs and consequences that will affect us all. Statistics in states that have legalized recreational marijuana are not good — involving and working closely with our law enforcement officials to adopt laws to keep impaired drivers off our roads needs to happen before this legislation moves forward. I am firm on my position that recreational marijuana should not be legalized, and if you agree, I would appreciate your support.

Question 2: Should the New York Legislature approve a bill to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses in New York?

Borrello: No. I do not believe we should issue a New York state driver’s license to those who willfully violate our federal immigration laws. As a security issue, it is also difficult, and in some cases impossible depending on the applicants country of origin to authenticate their identification documents. Also, with the new “motor voter” registration prompts that are part of the process of getting a drivers license at our DMV offices, this greatly increases the chances for voter registration fraud to be committed by illegal immigrants. We cannot risk any potential threat to state or national security. As a New York senator I will not compromise our residents security, or the integrity of our elections, nor do I intend to reward those who violate our country’s laws.

Crandall: No. Certain rights, privileges and duties come with legal citizenship, and obtaining a New York state driver’s license is one of them. This has been brought up in the past, former Gov. Eliot Spitzer tried it (before exiting in disgrace), and Gov. (Andrew) Cuomo keeps pushing for it as well. Legal citizenship should be encouraged and the privileges that come with it should not be watered down. The discussion in Albany should be on needed infrastructure improvements (roads and bridges) for the existing taxpaying legal citizens of New York state — there is a long list of projects in the 57th Senate District that need attention now.

Question 3: Would single-payer health care cover New York’s health care budget gaps?

Borrello: Single-payer healthcare will not solve any financial issues for our state, in fact, it will create more issues. Like most New Yorkers, I am open to some form of health care reform, but the so-called New York Health Act (NYHA) is just far too expensive and far too radical for me to support. This government-run health care bill would not only put Albany bureaucrats firmly in control of your family’s health care, it would also require the largest state-level tax increase in national history. The first year cost of this bill could be as high as $160 billion. This equates to a 178% tax increase — in a state that already has one of the highest tax burdens in the United States. A tax increase of this magnitude would have a devastating impact on taxpayers, small businesses and our economy as a whole. The bill also eliminates Medicare and relies on federal waivers that are unlikely to be approved. In addition, by driving insurance companies out of New York, the bill would result in many New Yorkers losing the health care coverage that they currently have and like. New York’s uninsured population is currently below 5% and I believe we should be focused on providing access and coverage for these individuals as well as on making care more affordable for under-insured New Yorkers. But what we should definitely not be doing is blowing up a health care system in a way that could negatively impact the millions of citizens that rely on it.

Crandall: No. The New York Health Care Act will significantly increase costs and it is not a good plan for New York. When Albany proposes a state-run, tax-funded plan that covers everyone, don’t just walk away from it — run. The handling of the Medicaid program in New York is one example of healthcare operations and their shift of administration and costs to others. New York is the only state in the country that depends on local county property taxes to pay for 25 percent of this program, their track record is not good. I do not support it.

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