I want to thank Governor Cuomo for the invitation to speak to you today.
Governor, you have been a leader, an innovator, and a friend. Thank you for that.
It is a pleasure to again share this stage with Lieutenant Governor Duffy, Speaker Silver, Comptroller DiNapoli and Attorney General Schneiderman.
And it’s nice to see Chief Judge Lippman and the members of the Court of Appeals.
Happy New Year to you and to all my colleagues and to members of the public from across the state.
And a special thank you to Archbishop Demetrios and Rabbi Romm for being with us today.
A year ago, I stood on this stage and talked about our shared goal of getting New York’s fiscal house in order and restoring the people’s faith in those elected to serve them.
It’s easier to govern when times are good, revenues are high and jobs are plentiful, but that was not the reality we faced then, or now.
But we have reached across the divides of partisanship to meet daunting challenges without delays and without excuses.
Together we threw away the playbook for Albany gridlock and dysfunction.
When it mattered most, we made state government function and produced the best results for New Yorkers.
We reduced state spending and cut the size of government, and closed a $10 billion budget deficit without raising taxes and fees.
We enacted a property tax cap; cut taxes for millions of hard-working, middle-class taxpayers; and reduced taxes on upstate manufacturers.
We repealed the MTA payroll tax for tens of thousands of businesses and for all schools; provided millions of dollars in relief for flood damaged areas of the state; approved major economic expansions at our State University centers; and sowed the seeds for new job creation projects across the state.
Many of these accomplishments were long-held Senate Republican priorities, passed and signed into law because we finally had a partner in Governor Cuomo.
Now we have to capitalize on our positive momentum and set the stage for the creation of new private sector jobs and a prosperous decade.
It starts with early passage of another fiscally responsible state budget.
We still face a more than $3 billion budget deficit that we should once again close through responsible spending cuts and not by raising taxes and fees.
We must continue to reduce taxes and put more money in the pockets of taxpayers.
We have to turn ideas into action when it comes to mandate relief, including pension reform, to protect property taxpayers and ensure that local governments and school districts stay under the tax cap.
Governor, our Senate Majority Conference wants to join you in establishing a statewide transportation plan that ensures a state-of-the art infrastructure, achieves true regional balance and creates good jobs.
And, most important, we have to encourage the creation of more private sector jobs because job growth is the long term solution to our budget problems.
We must create a more business-friendly state so small businesses can flourish – a state that can compete with every other state and nation to attract dynamic, large-scale job creation projects.
When a business is deciding whether it will operate in Amherst or DeWitt; Poughkeepsie or Saratoga; or Rockville Centre, the deciding factor is often how business-friendly the state is.
State government can help encourage job creators by cutting business taxes, reducing red tape and making smart capital investments.
But ultimately, the solutions that will strengthen our economy are found in our communities, our neighborhoods, in corner offices and at our kitchen tables.
That’s where the real job creators are making decisions. Maybe it’s a decision to expand and create a thousand new jobs that will impact an entire region, or maybe it’s a decision to hire one new employee and improve the quality of life for one family.
They are both very important decisions, and we want to make sure the answer to both is ‘yes.’
If we achieve our goal to create more jobs and a build a stronger economy, we will be the proud engineers of a more prosperous New York, now and for generations to come.
Governor Cuomo and Speaker Silver -- despite the progress we have made, New York still faces a tough road to prosperity -- but we won’t be intimidated by that challenge, we will be inspired by it.
In just one year we have seen how far we have come. Working together we will determine how far we will go.
Let’s endeavor to make this session even more productive than the last one.