(WBNG Binghamton) The Democratic candidate for New York State Senate's 52nd district says education is his top priority.
John Orzel is challenging Incumbent Republican Thomas Libous for the seat.
"Education is vitally important. Instead of hurting it, we need to be helping it," said Orzel.
John Orzel likens the current state of New York's public education system to the Titanic. "It's an expansive, expensive sinking ship," he said.
"It is my contention that public school professional staff, administrators and teachers, however in-direct, work for the state of New York, are employees of the state of New York."
Orzel says those employees should be paid directly by the state of New York. It's a part of the "Orzel Plan", legislation the Democrat would like to introduce in the State Senate if elected.
"New York should use earned income or investment income as the revenue base from which to generate the funds needed to pay the salary and benefits of public school professional staff members. The funds would be collected by employers of payroll deductions similar to Social Security from employees in periodically forwarded to the state," said Orzel.
Orzel taught public school for 34 years and is a former Mayor of Whitney Point.
"What the public will end up paying in those payroll reductions is much less than what they would be paying if we stayed with the current system of paying nothing but property taxes," he continued.
In his plan, Orzel also proposes that teachers with similar educational backgrounds and experience should be paid the same and get the same benefits.
Under his plan, representatives of the state teacher's unions would directly negotiate with the state wages, health care and pension benefits.
Orzel also says mandate relief is a priority.
"After Andrew Cuomo became Governor there was a commission appointed to take a look at mandate relief in New York State. They did make some proposals. I believe it was $152 million were eliminated in terms of mandates. I think we need to continue that process. Three E's: we need to examine, evaluate and if possible eliminate a lot of these outdated mandates," he said.
Orzel also says he's waiting on decisions to be made on hydrofracking New York.
"I'm waiting like so many to see what the DEC is going to release in its SGEIS report. I think it's important to see. We've come so far with this and continue to be patient to see what it does or does not end up saying," said Orzel.
The State Senate's 52nd district includes all or parts of Broome, Tioga and Chenango counties.