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Paladino vows to slash state spending

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Buffalo businessman Carl P. Paladino says "layers of bureaucracy and waste" in state government are a drag on the state's economy and something he will try to eliminate immediately if elected governor.

The Republican candidate claims he will reduce state spending 20 percent in his first year in office and cut taxes by 10 percent.

"I'm your everyday Joe who has had enough of this government," he said Tuesday during a meeting with the Times editorial board. "We've allowed people who think of themselves first and the people last to have power. It's a culture that in so many ways defies what we're about. Serve the people!"

Mr. Paladino said his first budget would cut spending 20 percent by eliminating several state agencies, including the Adirondack Park Agency and New York Power Authority. He said if lawmakers balk at his spending proposal, he'll convene the Legislature every day until it is approved.

"Am I telegraphing my punches? Yeah, I'm telling them to get ready," he said.

The problem with state government, Mr. Paladino said, is that it has become bloated and inefficient owing to bureaucracy.

"We have people who have been promoted by the Peter Principle; they get promoted by being there so long," he said.

He said 10 of 11 union contracts with state workers expire in April and he will demand cuts be made. His cost-cutting proposals could eliminate as many as 60,000 state jobs, he said. He said the state also has "executory power to abrogate any contract" for which there is not enough funding available to pay.

"We've never been disposed to look at things this way," he said. "It's been one apologist after the next. They're all feeding at the public trough. They've been doing it so long that they don't know any other way."

Mr. Paladino also said he is proposing a modern day Civilian Conservation Corps called the Dignity Corps. The plan calls for any able-bodied person receiving welfare or extended unemployment benefits to either work or prepare to work in order to continue to receive benefits.

He envisions using closed minimum-security prisons as places those receiving benefits can stay while they work on public projects and learn other job skills.

"This is about giving people dignity, self-esteem, " he said.

Mr. Paladino, a real estate developer, claims to be an "outsider" in the race for governor.

"For me, this is the first time I've been in politics," he said. "Every day is a learning experience."

He is facing Rick A. Lazio, a former congressman from Long Island, in the Republican Party primary Tuesday. The winner takes on Democratic state Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo in the general election.

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