FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 12, 2008
STATEMENT BY MAYOR MICHAEL R. BLOOMBERG ON BILL GATES' TESTIMONY BEFORE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
"Today's testimony from Bill Gates before the House Committee on Science and Technology affirms what we have been saying: if America doesn't overhaul its educational and immigration systems, and if we don't make greater efforts to support scientific research and development, we risk losing our place as the world's leading economic power. Gates testified that our nation is at a crossroads - and he is absolutely right. In many ways, the choice is up to our elected leaders in Washington, which means it's up to all of us to hold them accountable for making the right choice.
"Last year, Senator Chuck Schumer and I commissioned a report on New York's financial competitiveness, which found that various problems - including our broken immigration system - were putting New York City and the entire country at risk of losing our preeminent position as the financial capital of the world. Now, Bill Gates is telling us that we risk losing our preeminent status as the technology capital of the world - and again, our broken immigration system is a major part of the problem. We simply cannot continue to deny American companies the highly-skilled workforce they need to drive innovation and compete in the global marketplace. That's why last week, I wrote a letter to Secretary Chertoff about the need to immediately extend the Optional Practical Training (OPT) period for foreign students from 12 to 29 months, and I join Bill Gates in calling for the cap to be raised on H-1B visas so highly-skilled workers can remain in the United States and contribute to our economy.
"Bill Gates is also spot-on in his assessment of our education system, which needs to be strengthened if our students are going to learn the skills they need to compete in the technology-based economy of the future. In New York City, with the help of philanthropists like Bill and Melinda Gates, we have already started that process: graduation rates are up nearly 20 percent and last year we introduced New York City's first-ever citywide science curriculum. Other cities across the country have also taken steps to improve their schools, but we need the federal government to begin providing real leadership if we are going to create the schools our economy needs - and that our children deserve."
Stu Loeser (212) 788-2958