Governor Paterson painted a clear picture of the perilous fiscal situation New York is in and the economic challenges that New York and the nation has had to deal with for more than a year. Our immediate priority in the Legislature should be to work with the Governor and Senate on getting our state spending under control, put our economy on the track to recovery, and significantly strengthen the ethics laws, which apply to all public officials in this state and to those who lobby government.
I joined with my colleagues in June of 2009 to pass significant ethics reforms and we are engaged with the Senate in ongoing negotiations on ethics legislation. We are striving to enact the best, most independent, transparent and accountable ethics oversight structure that we can. We who serve in government must continue striving to restore the peopleís faith in their government.
In conjunction with building up our economy, we in the Legislature need to make surgical cuts and not broad overarching cuts. There are many services that are essential to the Middle Class New Yorkers in our area and we need to mitigate the impact of cuts to these vital services. Education has always been one of my top priorities and we must continue to insure the quality of education that our children receive when we do make these cuts.
As the future workforce of New York, our students in colleges and universities throughout the state are catalysts for new ideas and technology. Governor Paterson is proposing a $25 million New Technology Seed Fund to create the next Silicon Valley here in New York State. Also, we need to continually encourage many of the downstate companies to open offices in upstate New York instead of opening up administrative offices in other states and internationally. This strategy will help build up development across our state and encourage partnerships between upstate and downstate businesses.
The Task Force on Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises is truly a great accomplishment of the Governorís that is moving in the right direction. The task force was created to increase the participation of MWBE firms and preliminary reports show that fees to MWBE underwriting firms had increased from 4 percent of total fees ($517,000) in 2007 to over 23 percent of total fees ($5.1 million) in 2008.