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State of New York November 2, 2010 Election
Smart Voter Political Philosophy for John A. Gaetani

Candidate for
Comptroller; State of New York

This information is provided by the candidate

My political philosophy is simple. I believe that government sole purpose is to protect people from being harmed by others. That is government protects your property rights, ensures that contracts are enforced, and that your life and liberty are not taken away by anyone else, including government. Government provides a structure for people in society. It doesn't make sure that everyone has equal income and wealth. It makes sure that everyone has the opportunity to make out of their life whatever they want based on their own abilities.

Based on this basic philosophy, I will work as the State Comptroller to reduce government spending at all levels of government. Because as the Comptroller, which is the Chief Fiscal Officer (CFO), I will not only have financial control over state government but also fiscal oversight of local governments, school districts, authorities, SUNY, and CUNY. I will use the power of the office to audit government activities, to perform management reviews, to review all items that come before the Comptroller for payment, and to review and verify the use of revenues.

I plan to send out auditors to local governments and school districts to perform management reviews, operational audits, and financial audits. The results of which will be used to develop plans that will be created with input from the management and elected officials for the local governments and school districts to reduce their costs. In addition, I intend to make sure that the revenue collected by government is used for its intended legal purpose. That is lottery money is used for education and gas taxes are used for roads and bridges.

The Comptroller is the final review of all payments the state is obligated to pay. Over the years under previous Comptrollers that review has been watered down in the Comptroller's office and has been pushed onto the agencies. I believe that this has led to increased spending and increases in inappropriate payments being made. Not only that, it has led to increases in state government employees as the agencies have had to hire more people to process payments. I believe that the agencies should process the payment requests which includes certifying that the payment is appropriate but that the Comptroller should take back the role of stringently reviewing the payment requests before they are approved.

Other areas for spending reductions are the over abundance of highly paid employees who are either in their jobs because they knew somebody high up and a job was created for them or because a bureaucrat wanted to build his/her fiefdom and created new positions that weren't necessary. Regardless of the reasons, I will do everything I can to eliminate these unnecessary positions. Furthermore, there are many duplicate functions among state agencies in the executive branch. A couple that come to mind are human resources/personnel and payroll functions. Since all executive branch employees have one common employer and their paychecks come from the Comptroller's office, I intend to consolidate these functions as much as possible to reduce costs.

Almost all state agencies have an internal audit function but most of them are just window dressing. They don't really have any power to effect changes to agencies' operations like an internal audit function should. I intend to propose legislation to combine the internal audit function into one office that is truly independent and reports directly to the Governor, the legislature, and most importantly to the people. This should give the function more power to effect changes to state government operations that will make it function more effectively and efficiently.

The Comptroller is the sole trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund (Fund). Under past Comptrollers this Fund has not been managed well enough and has required that the taxpayers make large contributions to it through their local property taxes. I will change the investment strategy for the fund to ensure that it is adequately funded so that the taxpayers will not bear the brunt of the burden to keep the fund solvent enough to meet its obligations. I will also propose legislation to disallow elected officials from all levels of government to be members of the pension system. Why should an elected official receive a pension for serving as a representative of the people? Lastly on the pension system, I will propose legislation to create a board of trustees with the Comptroller as the chairman or a committee that will work with the Comptroller to replace the Comptroller as the sole trustee. In either case the board or committee will consist of stakeholders in the pension. That is employees, employers, and citizens will make up the membership.

You all know that the state budget has been a problem for years and years. It has been late for almost every year for the past 20 or so years. Not only that, but in recent years there have been huge deficits at the end of the fiscal year. And one is projected for this year. I believe the Comptroller needs to be more involved in the budget process. It is my intention to have more say in the budget. One of the ways I will do that is to analyze the proposed governor's budget when it is submitted and issue a report on the validity and feasibility of the budget. I plan to make constructive changes to the proposed budget to insure the spending and revenue assumptions are realistic and in compliance with Generally Accepted Government Accounting Standards (GAGAS). In addition, if the budget is late, I propose that the Comptroller implement a temporary austerity budget that will be in effect until the legislature passes the budget and the governor signs it. These things will most likely require legislation and probably a Constitutional amendment.

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Created from information supplied by the candidate: October 14, 2010 11:38
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