As Speaker of the New York State Assembly, Sheldon Silver has dedicated his career in public service to improving education, protecting affordable housing, delivering quality healthcare to all New Yorkers and reforming our criminal justice system. Silver is the leading voice for working families in the state, spearheading the drive to increase the minimum wage. When it became clear the nation was facing a subprime mortgage crisis, Silver pushed legislation to help hard-working New Yorkers keep their homes. As the economy worsened, the Assembly passed legislation extending unemployment benefits. In 2011, working with the Governor and the Senate, Silver helped lead the successful push to revamp the state tax code, cutting taxes on middle-class families while creating a more progressive income tax system. Silver is a powerful advocate for increasing state support for higher education, specifically the SUNY and CUNY systems, so that a college education can be within the reach of all New Yorkers. He has also been a strong supporter of the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), which helps students pay for college. Education
Through the LADDER (Learning, Achieving, Developing By Directing Educational) program, New York established the first pre-kindergarten program for all four-year-olds in the nation. Thanks to Silverís leadership, state funding to New York City schools was increased by more than $1 billion. He established a School Overcrowding Task Force in Lower Manhattan that has successfully opened two new schools and continues to push for more. In 2010, the Assembly passed landmark reforms that improve teacher evaluations by bringing more accountability to the classroom. These innovative measures were key in winning hundreds of millions of dollars in education aide as part of President Obamaís Race to the Top competition, which recognized New York as one of the nationís leaders in education reform. Housing
A statewide leader on housing issues, Silver has consistently ensured that hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers continue to enjoy the protections of rent control and regulation. In 2011, rent regulations were strengthened for the first time in decades, increasing protections for over a million apartments in New York City. The Assembly has also pursued an ambitious agenda aimed at ending vacancy decontrol and increasing penalties for landlords who harass tenants. In 2010, under Silverís leadership, the cityís loft law was made permanent, guaranteeing crucial protections for loft residents in New York City. Environment and Energy
Silver was named an "Eco-Star" in 2011 by the League of Conservation Voters for his work on clean energy and environmentally sustainable legislation. With Silverís strong support, the state enacted the Power NY Act, which clears the way for clean-energy development while protecting overburdened communities; creates green jobs and puts energy-efficiency improvements within reach for more homeowners; and charts a path for rapid growth in solar energy production. The Assembly has also passed a moratorium on the controversial gas drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, over concerns about its impact on drinking water. The state has also passed one of the nationís most progressive electronics waste recycling laws. Health
Silver passed legislation giving the state the ability to reject unreasonable increases in annual premiums and mandating coverage for autism spectrum disorders. Silver also successfully fought for passage of the Clinic Access and Anti-Stalking Act, which ensures women access to reproductive services and cracks down on violence against clinic workers. The Assembly also passed legislation that drastically reduces sulfur in heating oil, helping to fight the scourge of asthma. Criminal Justice
Silver helped lead the effort to reform the stateís draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws, giving non-violent offenders a path to treatment and productivity. Silver also guided the passage of legislation to protect citizens of wrongful conviction and expand the DNA database. In 2010, the Assembly passed a bill requiring the microstamping of shell casings so that police can trace the guns used in violent crimes. Under Silver's leadership, the Bias Crime Law, which combats violence associated with hatred, bigotry and prejudice, was enacted in 2000. Lower Manhattan Redevelopment
Following the 9/11 attacks, Silver, whose district includes the World Trade Center, led the way in making sure that the site was rebuilt and that Lower Manhattan is developed better and stronger than before. He authored a "Marshall Plan" for Lower Manhattan, which helped attract tens of thousands of new residents and provided incentives for businesses to relocate and create jobs. He helped resolve a dispute between landowners that kick-started the redevelopment at the Trade Center site and has been instrumental in transforming Lower Manhattan into a thriving, 24/7 community. Born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Silver is a graduate of Yeshiva University and Brooklyn Law School. In addition to his public service, he is a practicing attorney. He lives with his wife, Rosa, on the Lower East Side. The Silvers have four children, Edward, Janine, Michelle and Esther, and numerous grandchildren.