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Regional Archives The Altamont Enterprise, October 21, 2010
By Zach Simeone
ALBANY COUNTY Deborah Busch is aligned with the Tea Party on reducing government and cutting taxes. She wants to lift the tax burdens from businesses, cut administrators in government and in schools, and says that taxes should be capped at the rate of inflation. She has also called for an investigation of the state comptroller.
Busch sees New York as a “sanctuary state” for illegal immigrants, and says education aid should not be based on poverty; such aid, she says, largely goes to cities harboring illegal immigrants.
Busch is in favor of the death penalty and says her opponent is soft on crime.
Busch made her first run for public office last year, for county coroner, citing her medical background. She lost to a long-time incumbent, a funeral director, and a Democrat in Democrat-dominated Albany County.
Busch, 47, is a registered nurse and a native of Knox. She has just gotten off work, and is still in her uniform as she discusses the issues at the Enterprise office.
“Just to confirm: I believe in a tax cap,” Busch began. “I’m not happy with the tax cap that was proposed of 4 percent; I think they need to drastically reduce it. As you know, we lost 1.5 million people. They voted with their feet they left New York.”
Busch supports a tax freeze over the next few years, she said, and would like to see taxes capped at the rate of inflation.
“At this point, increasing taxes and losing businesses is a recipe for failure, and that’s what my opponent has voted for since he’s been there,” said Busch.
She went on to address a set of issues that she thinks is costing New Yorkers $18 billion a year. Medicaid, she said, is one of the largest contributing factors to the state’s $9-billion deficit.
“We have a carte blanche Medicaid system,” Busch said. “I’m not saying people aren’t entitled to medical treatment, but the best of medical treatment is given at a prohibitive cost. Giving free health insurance without producing individuals that can provide for their own health insurance with labor is counterintuitive. We need to be able to give jobs to people so they can contribute to health costs.”
The issue is that the state does not have an effective program for transitioning people off of Medicaid; having a set cutoff date, for example, would be an appropriate guideline, she said.
Contributing to this problem, she went on, is the fact that New York is a “sanctuary state” for illegal immigrants.
“Did we ever once consider a referendum? Did we ever ask New Yorkers if they wanted to be a sanctuary state? Illegal immigrants cost New Yorkers 9 billion a year,” Busch said, “Through providing health insurance and housing, providing education in schools; it’s putting a dramatic burden on school systems. And in the prison systems, we have a lot of crime committed by illegal immigrants, and we’re paying to house them in our prison systems.”
Further, the existence of many non-essential governmental positions is costing New Yorkers yet more money.
“We have many duplicate services that fall under the guise of authorities and agencies,” Busch said. “Many of these are appointed positions, of which we have individuals appointed by their favorite legislator, and they’re making three-digit salaries at our expense, managing very small departments, that perhaps don’t need to be there. I think the worst thing we ever could have done when we went and made cuts in the state budget is go after the workforce, the primary workforce providing services to constituents. That is, individuals answering phones, processing orders, all of the first-line workers.”
Rather, Busch thinks various departments should be required to consolidate their higher-paying administrative positions.
“Continue to maintain a strong and effective workforce in the state, combine departments with one manager, and allow them to do more with less,” Busch said.
“And I think another area that we need to look at is state pension,” she went on. “I know, last year, they increased taxes for state pension. Why are we not investigating our state comptroller? I think with our current legislators [Assemblyman John] McEneny and [Senator Neil] Breslin, they will never launch an investigation.”
The difficulty with finding jobs in New York can be blamed on the taxation of business, she went on.
“The greatest impact on jobs is businesses running [away] by the droves in the last few years,” said Busch. “Every time we increase taxes on business, they have to make a choice: Increase products and service costs, or let go of someone. So, rather than give it to the consumer, they get rid of someone. How is it that we’re going to start to employ our youth and train them to be valuable workers when employers are continuously worried if they can pay their tax.”
New York State’s economy, Busch said, thrives on small business, and lifting the tax burden off of these businesses will mean more jobs becoming available.
“I know it sounds crazy,” she said. “You’d say, ‘We’re having such record deficits, so how can you decrease taxes?’ Very simple. If we decrease taxes, allow businesses a moratorium on taxes, so they can employ more people, we will have the ability to create a situation of economic growth, kind of like our industrial age, and our manufacturing age. It was the same principal: Have more people working and producing more products, enabling them to trade back and forth and have some competition.”
Busch also thinks that New York State can harness alternative energy sources to provide utilities.
“I do believe we need to capitalize on wind,” she said. “I believe we can capitalize on solar, and we need to start using hydro…But it’s time that we start preserving our state, and whatever it is we do produce here, produce it at a rate that’s affordable for New Yorkers, and keep it within.”
On the subject of education, Busch said that schools in New York State have “deteriorated terribly.”
“Should any of our educational costs be contained in the federal system, or should it be the state’s consideration?” she asked. “Here, we’re taking our federal monies and it’s being sent towards an education program; we need those funds within out state. So I do believe our funds for education should remain within the state.”
Comparing the state-aid formula and the Title 1 formula for the distribution of aid, Busch went on, “I do believe there also needs to be equitable distribution. It should not be based on poverty levels. We wouldn’t have such high poverty levels if we did not take in illegal immigrants,” she said. “The city of Albany has high poverty because of the number of illegal immigrants we’re taking in from New York City.”
She also thinks that the state should move towards a charter-school system.
“Charter schools have been shown to be economically efficient; they have excellent aptitude scores; what it costs for a public education system to educate a student, a charter school can do 2.5 children,” she said. “In the cities, there’s a large enough population where they require that many schools where they have their parochial education K-8, and then they go on to high schools.”
Some communities, on the other hand, should consider consolidating schools, she went on.
“Here in the smaller communities such as the Hilltowns, we may have to move toward consolidating schools; we just do not have the enrollment anymore,” said Busch. “In that manner, I believe you’re going to see more consolidation of schools with your larger schools. I think that will even out and disperse the education requirement and the school taxes. Ultimately, I think if we were to operate more efficiently in that way, it wouldn’t be as difficult to obtain those funds the way it is now, and I think it would lower the cost of education.”
On the recent cuts in state-supported colleges and universities, Busch blames the steady rise in tuition.
“The more we increase tuition in the school, the less likely we’re going to have the enrollment we need,” Busch said. “We’ve had an excellent system. The problem is the escalating cost of educating students here. I think we have too many administrators in these positions here; some people are overpaid. Maybe we need to consolidate state schools too, as far as administrative capacity, and as far as departments are concerned.” She attended the University at Albany herself.
Busch went on to say that she supports the death penalty.
“I believe we need to have stricter, tougher laws,” she said. “My opponent believes it’s OK to furlough very quickly after crimes, and he’s very soft on crimes. Heinous criminals have been released from prison based on his soft legislation on crime.”
On the deadlock instruction, Busch thought back to her time on a jury.
“As a juror, I held out for a long time,” she said. “No one could coerce me. I knew the facts of the case, I rendered my opinion, and I do not believe any one person can be coerced in a jury. And I don’t think we should make deference to that.”
Upon conclusion of the interview, Busch pulled out a flyer for a McEneny fund-raiser, taking place tonight, Oct. 21, at the Albany Hibernian Center.
“The capitol is no place for a tea party,” she read from the flyer. “That’s an insult. TEA stands for Taxed Enough Already. He’s asking people to come join him because he plans on increasing taxes and that we should support that. What he doesn’t realize is that the people in the Tea Party, it’s everyone that can no longer afford to live here.”