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Assemblyman Chris Burdick (D-Bedford) is running for a second term representing the 93rd Assembly District that includes the towns of Bedford, Harrison, Lewisboro, Mount Kisco, New Castle, North Castle, North Salem, Pound Ridge and part of White Plains.
A longtime Bedford resident, Burdick had been the town’s first Democratic supervisor in 30 years. Challenging Burdick for the seat is Republican Gary Lipson, a military veteran, former IBM employee and lawyer from White Plains.
Burdick said the current $220 billion state budget is fiscally strong.
“We forecasted conservatively and the budget includes tax cuts for the middle class earning between $27,000 and $323,000, bringing taxes down to the lowest they have been in 70 years,” Burdick said.
Lipson is concerned the budget will create a deficit of more than $6 billion in five years.
“If they don’t adjust the budget, the taxpayer will have to make up the difference,” Lipson said. “New Yorkers can’t figure out where the money is being spent. Republicans were locked out of the budget discussion. We need transparency and accountability.”
Lipson favors the $4.2 billion New York Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act, which is on the ballot, but worries how it will be repaid.
“The budget expenditures, the interest and principal will impact voters 30 years from now when the bond becomes due,” he said. “Somebody is going to have to pay.”
Burdick said the bond is needed to address critically essential infrastructure projects that includes drinking water and wastewater.
“These costs would be crushing if paid for by local property taxes but (the bond) will provide significant relief,” Burdick said. “The cost will be quite manageable over the bond’s 30-year life.”
The state’s five-year, $25 billion plan to create 100,000 affordable housing units is a start but not sufficient, Burdick said.
“Creating affordable housing is always a challenge,” he said. “It involves land issues, sewers, septic, municipal water access. We need to partner with the county, responsible private sector developers and offer incentives to build low- to moderate-income housing.”
Lipson said New York needs to be less hostile to businesses who could offer good paying jobs and make housing affordable.
“New York is the most expensive place to live in this country,” Lipson said.
“Affordable housing can be accomplished by a collaboration between industry and government. If you don’t welcome new businesses, you’re squeezing out the middle class.”
Despite two revisions, the state’s bail law needs additional modification, according to Burdick.
“We have two justice systems. One for those who can afford bail and another for those who can’t,” Burdick said. “Overwhelmingly, those who can’t afford bail are people of color and they could unfairly wait in jail for months until their trial.”
Often there is misleading information about the law, he said.
“The crime rate has nothing to do with bail reform,” Burdick said. “Westchester County has a declining crime rate, but we need to address common-sense gun safety legislation to help bring down crime.”
“The cashless bail law was ill-conceived,” Lipson said. “A criminal who has been arrested six times for violent crimes has no business being back on the street. We need to review district attorney records to see if DAs are reducing the severity of the crime and releasing criminals.”
Lipson said he doesn’t oppose women getting abortions for free in New York.
“I’m not excited that New York taxpayers are paying for that service,” he said. “I believe abortion should be safe, legal and rare. My focus is on contraception education and promoting adoption.”
Burdick recently sponsored the Freedom from Interference with Reproductive and Endocrine Health Advocacy and Travel Exercise (FIRE HATE) Act to protect out-of-state women coming to New York for an abortion.
Reviewing school funding is imperative, said Lipson.
“The average cost of education in New York State is over $20,000 per student – twice the national average,” he said. “I would commission experts to study where things are failing at the state level.”
Holding down school taxes and getting more state aid for education is an important issue for Burdick.
“Although the communities in the 93rd Assembly District get significant benefits from state aid, the current foundation aid formula may need some adjustment. But the schools in my district provide superb education,” Burdick said.
Lipson said the Democratic majority in both chambers represents a flawed system.
“The one-party rule is just not working and the legislature is essentially a rubber stamp. There’s been rising crime and inflation, taxes are out of control and political corruption has gotten worse. We can change that by voting the major political party out of office.”
“We need to work across the political spectrum to get things done,” Burdick said. “So many issues are neither Democratic or Republican.”
Abby is a local journalist who has reported on breaking news for more than 20 years. She currently covers community issues in The Examiner as a full-time reporter and has written for the paper since its inception in 2007. Read more from Abby’s editor-author bio here. Read Abbys’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/ab-lub2019/