Thank you, James and Jacquetta, for your wonderful introduction. I am wondering, would you be available to travel with me and introduce me at all of my public events?
Good morning. Thank you for your warm reception. It's a perfect way to begin a very cold day here in Albany.
My thanks to all of you for traveling here and for taking on the responsibility of speaking for all of the young people who will need a job this summer, but who could not participate in this Youth Action Day. Speaking for the New York State Assembly, we appreciate and respect your leadership and your concern.
That said, who would have imagined that a mid-winter trip upstate would mean getting away from tons of snow? You need a team of sled dogs to get around New York City these days and that's a problem, given the number of fire hydrants.
I made the trip this morning from my home on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and I am hoping that I have some neighbors here with me this morning. Anyone from the Grand Street Settlement? How about University Settlement? What about the Chinese American Planning Council?
I grew up on Henry Street. I spent my summers working at my father's hardware store on Ludlow Street. Today, I live on Grand Street. Everything important that I have ever learned, I learned in those four blocks on the Lower East Side. So, I am thrilled to have young people here in Albany with me who understand the challenge of growing up in Downtown Manhattan and who want the opportunity to work hard and to earn their own way.
Let me also say that I am a big fan and a strong supporter of the United Neighborhood Houses and the Neighborhood Family Services Coalition. These organizations are invaluable city resources and are guided by true community heroes who deserve our support and our recognition. So, let's hear it for our friends, Gigi Li and Anthony Ng.
Now, let's get to the important subject: JOBS.
President Obama is talking about the importance of creating jobs. Our new Governor, Andrew Cuomo, is talking about creating jobs. I and my colleagues in the Legislature have been talking about how to create jobs for the better part of the last two decades.
The challenge, as we all know, is our weak economy. These are difficult times for state governments. Just when the demand for summer jobs is at its highest, states including New York, are cutting spending in order to balance our budgets.
Last year, for instance, Governor Paterson cut every penny out of the summer jobs program. It took a lot of pushing on our part, but we managed to restore almost half of the funding, which supported jobs for thousands of young people last summer in communities across our state.
This year, the Governor and the Legislature will work together to close a multi-billion dollar gap in our budget. Tomorrow, Governor Cuomo presents his Executive Budget for the next fiscal year, so we will know then what his plans are for the Summer Jobs program.
So, I urge you to make the most of your Youth Action Day. Take this opportunity to make sure your leaders understand how important the Summer Jobs Program is to you and to your families.
Please remember, you have longtime friends and strong supporters in the Assembly, me included.
As the Governor and Legislature work together to complete the budget, as we make the necessary but painful spending cuts, I assure you that we will be asking all New Yorkers to take on their fair share of the sacrifice - not just our young people.
So, again, make the most of your day in Albany. Get involved. Make your voices heard. And have a safe trip back to snow country.