Seasonal workers on Western NY, and are they treated fairly?
Linda Witte: It is one of the things to look at. It is a regional problem. If they come here to do jobs, you have to treat them fairly. You have to look at what they are doing for us. There is nothing wrong with seasonal workers coming here and being treated fairly, and this includes their children and taking care of them if they become ill.
Joe Giglio: They are vital to our economy and farms. They are treated fairly. It is important that we protect all workers. The farmers need their help – it is an important relationship.
Warren Schmidt: Rep. Kuhl does support a guest worker program. He is opposed to amnesty for illegals and it is important that the borders are secure. Taking workers off of farms is a result of farmers not being careful enough about documentation of the workers.
Joe Meische: Eric Massa believes in a realistic immigration policy that does not make farmers felons; he believes in a rational policy – not a knee-jerk, irrational policy. He is for securing the border.
Reduction of state taxes
Joe Giglio: State mandated programs – $10,000 programs to be paid by the state. We should reduce the cost of county’s (share) by 3%/year until it is at zero (Medicaid). Economic development comes when taxes are lowered.
Linda Witte: It is not just the state taking back Medicaid costs, but also reducing fraud, waste and duplication of services. NY State has layers of bureaucracy, and that’s what you are paying for. If you eliminate the abuses, it would be a big chunk of what we pay for property taxes.
(On legislative experience) On the first budget, I voted no – it included the sales tax. Second budget was more fair. It elinimated things that were not being (used). That brought down the cost of property tax.
Do you really believe that we need to have a passport to return from Canada?
Warren Schmidt: Personally, no. I don’t have the knowledge where Rep. Kuhl stands on this. I would believe that if such a program did exist – not a passport, but possibly an ID card. I believe he (Rep. Kuhl) support this as a reasonable thing.
Joe Meische: I am sure what his stand is. I don’t think a passport is the issue; it needs to be done in other ways.
NY State STAR Program
Linda Witte: Relates the story of a person who paid $47 this year, and then received a check for approximately $250. This raised the debt ceiling to issue these checks. This money needs to be paid back with interest. Its an irresponsible action from the state reps.
Joe Giglio: This year, NY State has a #3.3 billion surplus. The democrats want to spend it. We stood up and said that you cannot spend it, you have to give it back. The timing may not have been the best (referring to checks going out prior to an election cycle).
Linda Witte: We have a surplus in Cattaraugus County; we are going to spend it on one-time capitol projects. At the state level, they took $170 million for handouts to (small dollar) pork projects ($50,000…). The money could have been spent more wisely.
Joe Giglio: $3.3 Billion; he proposed to take at least 5% to spend towards debt reduction, but the democrats didn’t want to do that.
Final – End of Part 3
Local coverage of the debate: Candidates talk about agricultural issues at Farm Bureau forum in GV and Assembly candidates meet in farm forum
Article on debate from 10/25/06 – Candidates debate issues in Olean