Elaine Phillips touts record in pursuit of second state Senate term

Janelle Clausen
State Sen. Elaine Phillips speaks with Blank Slate Media. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)
State Sen. Elaine Phillips speaks with Blank Slate Media. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

State Sen. Elaine Phillips (R-Flower Hill) described herself as a hard worker with a positive but often misrepresented record in a sit-down interview with Blank Slate Media on Thursday.

Phillips, who is seeking her second term as a senator in District 7, said affordability and security are among her top priorities.

“My job as a public servant is to provide security,” she said. “And that security, part of it is financial security and making sure Long Islanders can afford to live here.”

Phillips is facing off against challenger Anna Kaplan, a town councilwoman and Democrat from Great Neck, to represent a district which encompasses the bulk of the Town of North Hempstead and stretches as far south as North Valley Stream and as far east as Hicksville.

Phillips highlighted her support of the 2 percent tax cap, which limits how much municipalities can increase property taxes, and expressed support for making it permanent. She also said she and her Republican colleagues helped prevent nearly $3 billion in new taxes and supported doubling the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit.

Phillips also emphasized the potential danger of one-party government in New York State. She said that in 2009 and 2010, state aid went down $124 million in the district while New York City schools saw an increase.

And, Phillips said, school districts like Westbury, Port Washington and Sewanhaka still haven’t gotten their fair share of foundation aid back.

“We need to go back and look at this foundation aid formula,” Phillips said, adding that there are many districts “desperately in need” of that funding.

Asked about allegations that her campaign received over $2.5 million from charter schools in the 2016 election and that she might support them over public schools, Phillips said she has “zero control” over donations and she hopes “there never will be” a need for charter schools in the district.

Phillips also highlighted negotiating a $112 million increase in state aid for schools in the district during her term.

“I have never advocated for charter schools,” Phillips said.

Phillips said her record on gun legislation has also been misrepresented.

Phillips said she supports legislation to bar bump stocks, which are devices that can be attached to semi-automatic weapons to make them fire nearly as quickly as fully automatic weapons, and signed onto “red flag” legislation to create extreme risk protection orders to prohibit someone from purchasing or owning a firearm if found to be a danger to themselves or others.

“Senator Kavanagh came to my office when he was elected and we talked about the red flag bill,” Phillips said. “I then did my homework … There was a vote on the red flag bill. I voted for it. Because you know what? It’s good, solid legislation.”

Phillips added that the missing link was a “mental health component” and expressed support for strengthening Kendra’s Law, which requires people with serious mental illness who have had multiple arrests to go through outpatient treatment.

Asked about when she voted against Democratic gun control measures, like longer background checks, a bump stock ban and extreme risk protection orders, she said she would have voted for them if they were germane to the legislation they were being attached to.

Phillips said there are many pieces of anti-bump stock legislation, but she has found the one sponsored by state Sen. Andrew Lanza the most comprehensive.

She also said she supports a ban of guns on school grounds.

“Why have guns on school grounds for goodness’ sake?” she said.

“There is literature that is saying Elaine Phillips is supported by the NRA. The fact is Elaine Phillips has never spoken to the NRA and in fact the NRA just put out their publication of grades – I got an F,” Phillips said. “I got an F because [of] my gun legislation, the first piece of gun legislation in five years and since the SAFE Act was approved.”

When asked if she would support the Child Victims Act, which would extend the civil statute of limitations to 50 years old and the criminal to 28 years old, she said she supported a Republican version of the legislation.

That bill would eliminate the criminal statute of limitations and establish a $300 million fund for victims stemming from forfeited assets.

Phillips also said the Child Victims Act, in its current form, would only help 10 to 20 percent of victims and the other 80 percent wouldn’t get any benefits.

“If there are aspects of CVA and the Child Victims Fund, let’s figure it out, let’s put them together,” Phillips said. “But the fact is the CVA does not give anything to 80 percent of all victims.”

She said she would be open to putting beneficial aspects of the bills together.

Asked about medical marijuana, Phillips said she supports it but that she needs to  see more specifics.

Regarding corruption in Albany, Phillips said she supports closing the LLC loophole, which allows people to form multiple limited liability corporations and donate to campaigns as if they were individuals, and instituting 12-year term limits.

She also said “pay-to-play” needs to be brought under control and the comptroller needs more power to do so.

Phillips, when asked about Republicans refusing to bring an online sales tax to the Senate floor because of opposition to raising taxes, said not having such a tax is a “huge disservice to businesses” and local downtowns.

Phillips said the legislation “needs to come to a vote.”

“We have to make it even,” Phillips said.

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