Governor, I congratulate you, Senator Skelos, Senator Klein and all of our colleagues in the Legislature on delivering to the citizens of our Empire State a fourth, consecutive on-time budget.
Governor, you gave us a well-crafted blueprint from which to work and we appreciate your willingness to consider our priorities throughout the budget negotiations.
I am extremely proud of my colleagues in the Assembly Majority. From "day one," they were wholeheartedly committed to putting working families first.
We are proud that with our perseverance the 2014-15 state budget makes a strong commitment to the education of our children - particularly our students in high-needs school districts - across the state through a dramatic investment in school aid (well over a billion dollars in the next academic year) ……
And an equally dramatic statewide investment in universal pre-K, $600 million of which - over the next two years - will help Mayor de Blasio launch his full-day, pre-K program throughout the City of New York.
We were gratified that we could reach agreement on a $2 billion Smart Schools Bond Act which will give students across our state the latest educational technology and also help New York City alleviate school overcrowding and get our students - our workforce of tomorrow - out of school trailers and into the proper classroom learning environments that they deserve.
After being deluged with concerns from parents, students and teachers throughout New York State, we are pleased that this agreement "hits the pause button" on the Common Core and protects student privacy … along the lines of the Assembly bill that we passed earlier this month.
On the subject of tax relief for working families, we said from the beginning, that for any property tax relief action to be fair it has to incorporate the working families of New York City.
This final agreement is fair geographically, it is fair economically and it covers all of the citizens of our state.
Economic development is always a top priority. This agreement expands the state's aggressive and innovative efforts to create jobs, to attract and retain business, and to revitalize and modernize the upstate economy …
But it also takes an important step toward addressing the child-care crisis that affects every region of our state by increasing child-care subsidies so that parents - particularly our working mothers - are able to take jobs or keep jobs because reliable, secure, affordable and high-quality child care will be available to them.
My thanks to the members of the Assembly's Child Care Workgroup, which I convened last May, and which came up with a package of recommendations, much of which was included in this budget.
Having sponsored legislation to implement the public financing of campaigns for over three decades, let me add that I am pleased that this agreement provides for the testing of the idea and includes other actions that the Assembly Majority has long believed will make our elections fairer.
We will continue to work to bring full campaign finance reform to the State of New York, including the financing for all state public offices.
There are many other elements of this budgetary agreement that are longtime Assembly priorities including the increase in TAP, the COLA for our direct-care workers, and the Safe Patient Handling Act, but let me make one additional point.
I am disappointed that this budget did not include an agreement on the DREAM Act. We will continue to work for its enactment so that all of our young people - wherever they were born - will know that their talents and their aspirations matter and are valued in the State of New York.
In closing, I want to publicly thank the distinguished Chair of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, Assemblyman Denny Farrell, who did an extraordinary job of leading the debate on the budget bills.
My thanks as well to our Majority Leader, Assemblyman Joe Morelle, to our Minority Leader, Assemblyman Brian Kolb, and to all of our committee chairs.
On a personal note, may I also acknowledge the efforts of our outstanding staff, particularly Jim Yates, Lou Ann Ciccone, Matt Howard, Judy Rapfogel, and all of the staff who could not be here because they are home sleeping for the first time in weeks.
This is budget is fiscally prudent and socially responsible, and it will keep our state on the path to a better future for our children and for our working families, who are the backbone of our state.
Again, Governor, my congratulations on a job well done.