Building the Future Now
By: Dave Gordon
The excitement and youthful enthusiasm for progress seems almost out of place for the seasoned, silver-haired representative from Bay Ridge. But even after nearly three decades in public service, New York State Senator Marty Golden still sounds committed as ever to change the world... starting, of course, with Brooklyn.
Representing the State’s 22ndSenate District for four terms, Senator Golden still often reflects back to his career as one of New York’s “finest,” during which he served in the NYPD for ten years, winning numerous awards for his achievements. His accomplished career in the police force came to an abrupt end when, in 1983, he suffered a serious injury while making a narcotics arrest.
Tough On Crime
Through the eyes of a former cop, he could tell you about how New York has become markedly safer in the past 20 years.
“We live in the greatest city in the greatest nation in the world,” he said. “Eight and a half million people here… While each administration has its own difficulties, at the end of the day… it’s safer.”
Around the time Mayor Giuliani took office, he added, the crime rate had soared to the extent that “you didn’t even have that [level of crime] in third world countries.” The Giuliani administration was credited with making New York a safer place to visit and live, and since then, organized crime has been on the wane, law enforcement is stronger, and walking along the Big Apple’s streets is no longer a risk. Indeed, statistics show a steady decline in crime over the past decade, and Senator Golden says that Mayor Giuliani’s approach is the model that should be followed to continue that trend. “When you had that kind of mentality take over with accountability, standard operating procedures… we did an outstanding job. You need the right people, the vision to achieve those goals going forward.”
To this end, Golden recently cosponsored legislation which he hopes will help law enforcement officials prosecute crimes involving damage to and theft from houses of worship. In 2006, he wrote a tough law that mandates prison for the possession of a single loaded illegal firearm. And in recent months, Senator Golden spearheaded a new agreement whereby the national
In speaking of the urgent need for safer streets, Senator Golden hearkens back to last July’s kidnapping and killing of nine-year-old Leiby Kletzky, who was abducted in Boro Park while walking home alone for the first time from day camp. Senator Golden is also reminded of Etan Patz, the six-year-old Manhattan boy who in 1979 was abducted and killed when walking to the school bus alone for the first time.
Senator Golden says he is a firm believer in taking all precautions necessary to beef up safety. “I stand behind installing cameras to monitor the community. We need to understand what’s happening on the street, or in the event of an attack, or if someone has medical needs. We’ll be able to monitor it at the federal level and to be able to … take features in a database and focus in on the perpetrators.”
In his view, security isn’t just limited to government initiatives. Individuals and organizations could equally set up security systems, and the Senator hopes that the State will provide subsidies to encourage private security measures. “We want to encourage people to do it without them incurring their own cost,” he said.
Hot on Tax Relief
Senator Golden has spearheaded a number of measures to help reduce the tax burden on New Yorkers.
For example, he delivered the laws that eliminated the state sales tax on clothing and footwear. He also secured a $400 property tax cut for New York City residents and eliminated the personal income tax marriage penalty. In addition, Senator Golden voted for a new law that cut the state sales tax on gasoline by 4 cents per gallon, recognizing the hardships faced by many in light of rising oil prices.
“Because of the tax structure changes, everyone is paying less tax now than they did three years ago,” he said.
The recent 27thDistrict State Senate election between David Storobin and Lew Fidler demonstrated how our community has helped shape a new political landscape. In what was once a stronghold for Democratic liberals, South Brooklyn recently voted in more conservative Republican candidates whose social ideals more closely match traditional Jewish values. Few expected such a close race, and one of the wedge issues to which many attribute Storobin’s victory, was his strong support of the traditional definition of marriage.
Senator Golden, for his part, has registered his vocal opposition to same-gender marriage and recently introduced a bill to void recognition of same-gender marriages in New York. “Obviously that same-gender marriage thing was something really dumb,” the Senator bluntly states. “It should not have happened. But it did.” Senator Golden has vowed to continue his staunch opposition to the bill.
Advocating “Smart” Education
Though New York spends more money per student than just about any other state, according to Senator Golden, the New York education system is far from what it could be, relative to other countries.
“Why are we so lagging behind in the world with education?”
The key to improving the school system, according to the Senator, is competition. “I’m the type of guy who believes in competition, who believes in charter schools, and private schools being able to compete. Then you can take a barometer of those different entities and gauge the best practices, implement them and develop a better product – that is, which kind of school results in a better educated child. Of course, that’s what I think our goals should be.”
Acting on this conviction, Senator Golden has worked to promote competition and ensure that legislators recognize the folly of a one-size-fits-all school system. He supported a bill authorizing a personal tax credit of up to $6,000, and a corporate tax credit up to $15,000, for contributions to charitable organizations which offer tuition assistance, and 75 percent of expenses incurred by school personnel or parents. The total monies directed towards private schooling would be about $100 million.
The initiative garnered support of 54 out of 62 votes, nearly unifying the legislators in a bi-partisan vote.
“It’s unheard of that I would get that many Democrats to support this,” said a pleasantly surprised Senator Golden.
Four years ago, working with a diverse group of parents, educators, clergy and school choice advocates, the Senator delivered a $330 child tax credit for public, private and parochial school students for tutoring, tuition, textbooks and other educational expenses.
“Today,” he proudly states, “that totals billions of dollars gone back to parents.” Building upon this success, Senator Golden plans to pursue an additional tax credit to follow the lead of six states which have already implemented significant tax credits, vouchers, and tax deductions for education.
“It can work here in New York. With the Governor, the senate and the assembly, hopefully we can get this tax credit done and start to get real balance in education.”
Senator Golden was also actively involved in passing legislation for what he called “the after-5 buses.” The bill was written to help the some 4,600 seventh and eighth graders who had been left out of public transportation, and had no one to pick them up after 5pm. “We got that restored,” Senator Golden said, adding that before this bill was passed, children were being penalized for their choice of education opportunities. Agudath Israel of America had led the charge for these changes in affiliation with the Senator.
“We’re going to try to get some after school programs restored, as well,” the Senator pledges.
The Constitution of a Conservative
Senator Golden is not subtle in expressing his feeling that values have a higher chance of being promoted if the current White House occupant is voted out this November.
“We hope for a president named Romney and the ability to change the nation and bring it back to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, back to how this country was formed 230 years ago,” the Senator says. “This is the fight we will be in.” He charges that the majority of the President’s policies tilt toward socialism that could eventually jeopardize the quality of our health care system.
Meanwhile, back in New York, Senator Golden describes the work ahead with uncanny youthful optimism.
“There is definite growth and real possibility for economic growth to be a reality in this state and city,” he said. “I will continue to be a partner in the community and make sure I deliver for the community, as well, whether it be education, safety, or transportation.”
And with a remarkably consistent record of advocating for the interests of the Sephardic community, there’s little reason to doubt that he will.