BACKGROUND: Hawkins, 64, is the liberal Green Party candidate for governor. Hawkins has been a fixture in the labor, peace and civil rights movements since 1967, when he was a teenager growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a socialist who believes in international solidarity for the working classes as a way to preserve democracy, freedom and equality. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1972 during the Vietnam War. He protested against the war while he attended Dartmouth College. His candidacy for governor in 2014 earned more than than the 50,000 votes needed to give the Green Party an automatic place on statewide ballots, avoiding the need for costly petitioning.
ISSUES: Hawkins said raising state income taxes by 10 percent on the top 1 percent of earners in the state would generate nearly $40 billion, and “the very wealthy would remain very wealthy.” The $40 billion increase would be a massive infusion in the $168.3 billion state budget adopted in April, but Hawkins said this added spending would spur the economy, and not be a drag. He said the state needs to invest $44 billion a year over the next decade to build a fully clean energy system, repair neglected highways and infrastructure to boost commerce, fully fund public schools and provide free tuition to the State University of New York and the City University of New York. “New York can afford these public investments if the rich pay taxes at the rate they did in the 1970s,” Hawkins said.