The Remarks Of Speaker Sheldon Silver

Public Leaders Meeting

Red Room - Capitol
Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Governor, first let me express our appreciation for the time you have taken to meet with the Members of the Assembly Majority. We particularly appreciate your participation in our Majority conference yesterday afternoon. Clearly, there should be no doubt in your mind that we are ready, willing and able to construct and pass a responsible budget.

We know from the economic forecasts, but more poignantly, from what we are seeing, hearing and experiencing in the cities, towns and villages that comprise our respective Assembly districts how difficult the fiscal climate is for our working families and will continue to be for some time.

This is why we proposed a budget that closes the deficit in a responsible way, that cuts spending by $4.3 billion and shrinks the size of government, but also rejects a billion dollars in taxes and fees, and restores $600 million in education aid.

I know you agree the spending reductions that must be enacted are cuts that neither you nor I, nor our colleagues in the Assembly Majority ever would have considered were it not for this worldwide financial crisis.

That said, we can sit here engaging in political theater, wasting everyone's time, debating how we ended up in this situation, and if we do so, I guarantee we will not have given New Yorkers an ounce of hope. Or, we can seize this opportunity and work together constructively to move the budget process forward.

If you took anything away from yesterday's conference, let it be, that we want to work with you, as partners, to enact a state budget that is thoughtful and considerate of the citizens that all of us represent together.

We passed a responsible budget in the Assembly, but we recognize that a final state budget must be achieved. You have made it clear that additional spending reductions are necessary. I assure you that we are revisiting every program area and working with every committee chair to find additional cuts.

Whatever final, smaller gap remains will still need to be filled. Our choice is to institute serious budget reforms that will move this state toward GAAP budgeting - which will eliminate the structural deficit of the future - and then utilize bonds to ease the transition to this better and improved budget process.

We are open to considering other options; recognizing that all New Yorkers must share in the sacrifice and not just the hardworking families of this state. We are here, hopefully, for a final push toward achieving a state budget with you, Governor.