YORKTOWN, N.Y. – Incumbent Steve Katz (R, C, I - Yorktown) is looking to stave off a challenge from Democratic candidate Andrew Falk in the race for the newly-redrawn 94th State Assembly.
The district covers Yorktown, Somers, Carmel, Putnam Valley, Southeast and Patterson.
Name: Steve Katz Age: 57 Family: Katz resides in Mohegan Lake, NY with his wife and children. Occupation: Veterinarian Party affiliation and ballot lines held: Appearing on Republican, Conservative, and Independence Party ballots. Years in office: Two years in the Assembly.
1) What are the three biggest issues facing your district?
Job creation: New York State is burdening business owners with over 49,000 pages of taxes, red tape and regulations. The overwhelming majority of these restrictions, regulations, high fees, multiple permits are neither polluting to our environment nor “union busting.” I know because as a small business man I have had to deal with so many of them.
On the contrary, they are burdensome, time consuming, and exorbitantly expensive mandates from the state to the small business owner. I believe that employment numbers will rise when we help small and medium businesses get out from under the red tape and burdensome taxes imposed by Albany. At present, we are scaring businesses out of New York. We must create a friendlier environment for all industries.
The economic recovery: As a member of the State Assembly, I have worked tirelessly to spur job growth through: Tax reform for small business and for taxpayers, job training programs, state fee exemptions for veterans, tax exemptions for technology investments, property tax cap, stop unfunded mandates, energy independence, 2.5 percent across the board spending cut resulting in 3.5 billion savings to the taxpayer, producing a half billion dollar budget surplus.
Cleaning up Albany: New Yorkers pay more per tax dollar on our state legislature than any other state in the country. I’ve observed the workings of the legislature from a businessman’s perspective. The dirty little secret is that we don’t need to spend more than 30 days per year up in Albany. My plan to bring the legislature into the 21st century would save us taxpayers upwards of $150 million per year. We need transparency in government.
The Speaker of the Assembly, Sheldon Silver, used taxpayer money through his personal slush fund to protect members of the legislature and staff accused of various sexual offenses. He has created a hostile working environment for women. His utter lack of moral, ethical, honest leadership demands his resignation. I have been the leader in our state to demand Silver’s resignation and for the Governor to invoke the Moreland Act, which would bring an independent investigator to look into Sheldon Silver’s slush fund activity. I proposed a bill to require a financial impact statement certified by the Comptroller office for every bill submitted to the legislature. For the first timer each bill submitted must specifically state the cost to the taxpayers and exactly how it will be paid for. That will be the beginning of fiscally responsible state government.
2) Why are you better suited than your opponent to address these?
For the last 20 years I have been a small business owner. I know firsthand what it is like to start a business in New York, maintain that business, make payroll, pay the payroll taxes, etc. I have created jobs and started a business. I bring a businessman’s eye to Albany, unlike the majority of legislators who are lawyers. That is why, in my first term I have fought on behalf of the people of my district to lessen their tax burdens and free local employers to expand their businesses and encourage employment.
I live in Mohegan Lake with my wife, Nicole and three of my four daughters. They are all attending the Yorktown public schools. I understand the difficulties of creating a school budget that must balance excellence with what the parents and property owners can afford.
I have been a vocal opponent of the unfunded mandates imposed by the state on our counties. In Westchester and Putnam counties over 95 cents of every property tax dollar goes to Albany instead of staying in county. Medicaid and pensions alone are strangling the counties’ ability to provide service to its citizens and driving them towards bankruptcy. I submitted a bill this year that would have the state adopt the 9 recommendations by the NYS Association of Counties to relieve them of this onerous burden.
I view myself as a Citizen Legislator with one job: serve my constituents and work toward making all of New York a better place to live, work and raise a family. I sometimes take unpopular positions because I know they are right – from Legislator pay cuts to demanding the resignation of Sheldon Silver – I seek to represent the principles and sensibilities of my constituents, not the so called establishment in Albany.
3) What is the first thing you’ll do if reelected?
My reelection would serve as a vote of confidence from the people of the 94th District to continue my efforts to reform Albany, demand tax relief for families and to unravel the red tape inflicted on so many New York businesses. Chronologically, the first thing I would do is demand that there be no “special session” of the legislature, costing the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars to give ourselves a raise. It will be tied to some legislation that will be impossible to vote against, just like last year when they tied MTA payroll tax relief with extending the tax surcharge on all families earning over $250,000.
On the first day of the new legislature I will submit bills for term limits for legislatures, term limits for all leadership positions, abolishing all taxpayer paid funded slush funds for all leadership positions including the governor. I will put in a bill for initiative and referenda, so that the people of NY will be able to vote directly on the issues that the politicians in Albany have either been afraid or reluctant to put to a vote. I will resubmit my relief of unfunded mandate bill and my voter ID bill, requiring a voter to produce a picture ID to verify who you are before you vote. With Sandy Galef, I will be submitting a bill which will make it simple for anyone to see who is funding a candidate’s campaign. I will put in a bill for a 2.5 percent across the board budgetary cut, thereby eliminating the 3 billion dollar budget deficit and leaving the taxpayers with a half a billion dollar tax surplus for the first time in generations. My bills to bring Albany into the 21st century would save the taxpayers at least another 100 million dollars. We could then return the surplus tax dollars back to the taxpayers which would further spur the free market economy.
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