The Remarks Of Speaker Sheldon Silver

Announcement Of Agreement On The 2008-2009 Deficit Reduction Plan

State Capitol
Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver joined Governor David A. Paterson to announce the Assembly had agreed with the Executive and Senate on a $1.6 billion deficit reduction plan for Fiscal Year 2008-09. Silver said the plan reflected the realities New York faces in light of the current economic downturn.

First and foremost, let me acknowledge the leadership of the Governor, both for continuously sounding the alarm on what is a major economic crisis and for fostering a spirit of cooperation and urgency that helped make possible - in a timely fashion - this three-way agreement on a $1.6 billion deficit reduction plan.

Let me also take a moment to acknowledge and to commend the strong leadership and hard work of Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith who is, unfortunately, still upstairs on the floor of the Senate doing the job of Majority Leader and bringing this agreement to fruition in the State Senate.

The three-way agreement we have reached today will reduce the 2009-2010 budget deficit to $13 billion, as the Governor outlined.

Of course, we could not have reached that agreement on this deficit reduction plan without the outstanding work of the members of the Assembly Majority; particularly our committee chairs and especially, Assemblyman Denny Farrell, the Chair of our Ways and Means Committee, who is sitting constantly through public hearings day in and day out, night in and night out, listening to people who want to express their opinions on the actions we are taking.

The leadership of this state has a responsibility to deal with this economic crisis and we are meeting that challenge head on.

As I have said many times, I am committed to finding cuts in spending to ensure that New York is able to live within its means and I believe this plan - reached in conjunction with the Senate, and with the leadership of the Governor - is a prudent and thoughtful response to these difficult times.

Let's be clear. This deficit reduction plan is only the first step in dealing with the worsening economic crisis that has affected both our state and our nation. There is no way to sugar coat it. Revenue numbers are not improving.

So, our next step is to continue to work on the 2009-10 state budget recognizing that no budget deficit of $13 billion is going to be closed without the federal aid that the Governor spoke about, without serious cuts and without revenue enhancements.

Even with the federal stimulus, New York will still face a massive budget deficit.

Be that as it may, we will not walk away from our historic obligations to provide for the health, safety and education of our citizens, nor will we allow the burden of addressing this crisis to fall disproportionately on to the backs of New York's working families.

All New Yorkers must and will share the in the sacrifices we are talking about.

And the reality is, there are going to be disagreements between the Governor and the Legislature, between the houses of the Legislature, and within the various party conferences.

We will not allow our differences to stand in the way of addressing the crisis in front of us, nor in dealing with the concerns and the needs of New York's families and communities no matter where they live in this state. That is what we are demonstrating to you here today.

As is outlined in the press release before you, the Deficit Reduction Plan that we have fashioned from the Governor's original plan contains actions of $1.6 billion to address the current fiscal year gap. Many of those same actions will recur to the tune of $803 million that will begin to address the deficit in next year's budget.

We have agreed to $626 million in recurring spending cuts for the current year that will drive $578 million in savings for next year's budget.

These are serious cuts that include reductions in legislative programs; programs that many legislators have fought hard to establish but in recognizing the urgency of the crisis, have agreed to cut: from the Environmental Protection Fund to SUNY tuition to Health Care to foster care.

The list of actions is attached to the release you have received.

These are difficult times and this government is making the difficult choices to get this state through this recession.

I have every confidence that working with the Governor and with Majority Leader Smith, we will complete the necessary steps to get New York through these difficult days and back on the road to prosperity.

I believe we will do that with our actions to deliver the 2009-2010 state budget.

Governor, once again, I thank you for your leadership. Now, we will be happy to take your questions.