The Remarks Of Speaker Sheldon Silver

Unveiling Of Assembly Budget Resolution

State Capital

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

[As Prepared For Delivery]

Good evening.

We have called you here to announce that this evening, the Assembly Majority is taking up and intends to pass our 2010-2011 Budget Resolution.

Simply put, with this plan we close the deficit, we make responsible cuts and hold the line on spending, we preserve vital programs and services, we reject a number of taxes and fees, and we dramatically reform the budget process.

Before I briefly outline our proposal, let me first say that I am proud of our Democratic Conference and the effort that was put forth in crafting a budget proposal that mitigates some of the pain the Governor recommended in his Executive Budget.

I can assure you that Chairman Farrell and I, working through the committee process, explored every avenue for dealing with this fiscal crisis.

Our conference discussions were extensive, passionate and difficult. Each and every member of the Majority went to the mat for their respective communities and nobody pulled any punches.

When the dust settled, it was clear to everyone that closing a $9.2 billion dollar budget deficit in an economy fraught with uncertainty required that we make the fairest and most thoughtful choices from a very limited menu of very difficult options;

Choices that will protect the programs and services that working families depend on;

Choices that will fuel New York State's economic recovery.

That said, this is not a budget anybody is thrilled to be supporting. The cuts contained in this proposal are painful and reflective of the weakened state of our economy.

We have been telling you from the beginning, that closing a deficit of this magnitude would require significant cuts in government spending.

Our budget resolution, which is outlined in the press releases you have received, proposes more than $4.3 billion in spending cuts, many of which were originally recommended by the Governor.

We did, however, propose a number of restorations that we believe are critical to working families and our most vulnerable citizens, and critical as well to New York's economic recovery.

We restore $600 million of the Governor's $1.4 billion school-aid cut.

We reduce the Governor's health-care cuts by $126 million, including millions in restorations affecting hospitals, nursing homes, and home care.

We also make reforms to our health-care system.

We propose a state takeover of the local cost of Medicaid administration and we require that health insurance companies obtain prior approval from the State Insurance Department before increasing premiums on certain plans.

We reject the Governor's cut to Early Intervention services for children with special needs.

Because they are a key component of our job-creating efforts, we reject the Governor's base-aid cut to our public community colleges. We likewise reject the Governor's across-the-board cut to all TAP awards.

Through our proposal, we also avert the closure of 91 state parks and historic sites, which are important sources of tourism revenue.

Along with spending cuts, we reject a billion dollars in taxes and fees proposed by the Governor, including the so-called "soda tax."

In addition to these actions, we are advancing what we believe are critical budget reforms that are consistent with those proposed earlier this month by Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch.

Our reform proposal will move the state to GAAP budgeting, which, over a period of five years, will eliminate the state's structural deficit. It includes the issuance of $2 billion in bonds and the establishment of a review board to help us ensure that New Yorkers will never again have to endure the kind of massive budget deficits we have been dealing with over the last several years.

As I stated earlier, with this plan we close the deficit, we make responsible cuts and hold the line on spending, we preserve vital programs and services, we reject a significant number of taxes and fees, and we dramatically reform of the budget process.

We are prepared to work with the Governor and with our colleagues in the Senate to deliver the best possible final budget for the people of New York State.