Republican State Sen. Jack Martins and his Democratic opponent, businessman Adam Haber, clashed in their first televised debate, arguing about taxes on Long Island and abortion rights but finding agreement in their opposition to the rollout of the Common Core education standards.
The News 12 Long Island debate, which airs Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and was taped Wednesday, was the seventh joint appearance between Martins and Haber as they vie for the 7th State Senate District seat.
Martins (R-Mineola), who is seeking a third term, said Republicans "had made tremendous progress turning New York State around and cleaning up the mess made by the New York City politicians who treated Long Island like an ATM."
Martins said he worked with Democrats to cut income taxes, pass a 2 percent state property tax cap and delivered a $27 million state aid increase to Long Island schools.
Haber, a restaurateur and venture capitalist who serves on the Roslyn School Board, said he has the business and government experience to find efficiencies in the state budget, create jobs and grow the economy.
"Nassau County is falling behind in real ways," said Haber of East Hills. "Businesses are just not coming here, the tax burden is overbearing and people are just not optimistic about the future."
Throughout the debate, moderated by News 12 anchor Stone Grissom, Martins painted Haber as an ally of New York City Democrats who passed the controversial MTA payroll tax on area businesses and cut aid to Long Island schools while in the majority six years ago.
Martins said if Democrats regain control of the Senate, taxes will go up and Haber "will not be able to stop them as a junior senator from Long Island."
Haber said that he would have voted against the MTA payroll tax and that he supports universal pre-K on Long Island. He also proposed a new manufacturing tax credit for Nassau businesses.
The candidates also disagreed on the 10-point Women's Equality Act, which stalled in the Senate this year.
Martins said he supported nine points of the plan, including equal pay for women and strengthening laws against human trafficking but opposed codifying federal abortion rights into state law. Haber said the bill should be passed in its entirety and blamed its failures on Martins' "extreme anti-choice views."
The candidates agreed that the Common Core had been rolled out poorly and that the curriculum has too much testing and not enough local control. In their comments, Haber said he supported the idea behind Common Core but that the program was implemented badly. Martins said he opposes the program and it's rollout.
All debates will also be on Channel 612 & www.news12.com