Spitzer interview re charter schools and CFE
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The News Interview: Eliot Spitzer
Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, Democratic candidate for governor, spoke with the Daily News Editorial Board on his priorities.
QUESTION: What is the major focus of your campaign?
ANSWER: The overriding concern that we have to have is reforming government so that it reflects the needs of the state. Reducing property taxes is a very necessary piece of bringing back the upstate economy. And we need to improve infrastructure. It is transportation, it is housing, it is education, it is energy. That will provide the foundation for an economy that has the capacity to grow enormously.
How would you improve the city schools, and how would you invest the money that may come as a result of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit against the state?
I believe in competition, I believe in accountability, I believe in transparency. We need to see a significant infusion of money, but we have to pair it with increased charter schools, giving principals authority. We have to make sure we address the issue of universal pre-K and early literacy. We need to give teachers incentives to teach at low-performing schools. We have to begin to think about pay-for-performance.
If we don't pair the resolution of this litigation with an effort to change the delivery system, then we will have missed an opportunity.
Funding the schools at the level laid out in the CFE case will cost billions of dollars. Where will the money come from?
I put on the table an $11 billion savings plan in terms of the current state budget. This is something that Controller Alan Hevesi and I have worked over carefully. Those numbers are conservative and they are real. That pays for a property tax cut as well as what we begin to do in education. There will be no tax increase. Over four years we can get to this.
You've said you would aim to save lots of money by trimming Medicaid. How specifically would you accomplish that?
There are certain services we can't afford to pay for. There are certain hospitals that are going to close.
And, when it comes to Medicaid, here is the piece that nobody is really focused on: long-term care. Some 41% of our Medicaid dollars go to long-term care. This is a time bomb. We've got to figure out how we pay for it, how we incorporate other forms of care across the continuum.
Do you support the Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn , which includes a new basketball stadium for the Nets?
I'm for it. I'm not crazy about government subsidies, obviously, but this is a project where there's a hole in the ground. I see an enormous upside in terms of the stadium, the housing, the jobs.
Originally published on July 12, 2006
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