The Juniper Berry: “Interview: Joseph Addabbo & Eric Ulrich”

Written by David Shapiro

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Published in the September 2012 Juniper Berry Magazine

Q: Governor Cuomo is pushing for full-fledged casino gaming in New York. Do you support amending the state’s Constitution to amend this?

ADDABBO: I do. We already have gaming in New York State and because we don’t have full gaming we lose an estimated 10 billion dollars to New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and other states. Not only would we would realize much more revenue, we would realize more job opportunities as well.

ULRICH: I support legalizing table games in New York because I believe that it will create jobs and raise billions in tax revenue for our state. It is also unfair and very inconvenient that New Yorkers must travel to casinos in neighboring states such as Connecticut, Pennsylvania and New Jersey if they want to play blackjack, roulette and poker.

Q: New York is the highest taxed state (per capita) in the nation. Do you support requiring a two-thirds super majority vote to increase taxes? Why or why not?

ADDABBO: Yes. Raising taxes is always a last resort, and I believe a two-thirds majority would act as a safety net in protecting the government from raising taxes needlessly.

ULRICH: Albany politicians are addicted to tax hikes. That is why I fully support any measure, including requiring a supermajority vote, that limits the ability of our government to levy taxes on the middle class.

Q: Do you support the NYPD’s use of stop-and-frisk as an effective crime fighting tool? Why or why not?

ADDABBO: Yes, I do. I think stop-and-frisk has its place in law enforcement, but when stop-and-frisk is abused then I have an issue. And I do think there’s a direct correlation between stop-and-frisk and the bigger issues of illegal guns, illegal ammunition, and illegal drug use.

ULRICH: Stop-and-frisk works – it’s as simple as that. We cannot afford to play politics when it comes to public safety. I support NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly and want law enforcement to utilize every necessary tool, including stop-and-frisk, to keep our streets safe.

Given the recent scandals and corruption charges involving members of the state legislature, do you believe State Senators (and their Assembly colleagues) deserve a pay raise?

ADDABBO: We don’t right now.

We have larger issues to deal with than legislative pay raises, which as of now is a mere rumor. There’s not one single piece of legislation that proposed a legislative pay raise. Legislative pay raises are certainly not on my radar screen right now.

ULRICH: Elected officials work for the taxpayers, not the other way around. If State Senators want a pay raise they should put it on the ballot and let the voters decide.

Q: New York spends billions of tax dollars annually on our public education system. However, many students are forced to attend failing public schools simply because of where they live. The demand for public charter schools, on the other hand, continues to grow. Do you support expanding the number of independent charter schools in New York?

ADDABBO: I’ve supported an increase in charter schools in the past. I do think there’s a place for charter schools in certain areas, and I do think that giving parents another choice is good, but in the end public schools are the still the best bet.

ULRICH: Expanding the number of independent charter schools in New York is long overdue. Parents should have the power to choose a school based on its quality and their child’s needs. This will also encourage healthy competition among schools. When it comes to education, our children deserve the best.

Q: Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. What impact do you think this will have in New York?

ADDABBO: I think that there is no answer to that question just yet. We will not know the full effect of the Affordable Healthcare Act for another 2 years. But I would say this however, that if the intent of the Act is to provide affordable healthcare to everyone, but in doing so means an undue burden, expense, or detriment to small businesses or the middle class, then we would need to reevaluate it.

ULRICH: Obamacare will hurt economic growth in New York in part by letting the IRS tax Americans who don’t buy health insurance. This is absurd. Seniors in our community should also be concerned about the inevitable cuts to Medicare which will be used to pay for Obamacare.

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