FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 19, 2012
STATEMENT OF MAYOR BLOOMBERG AT BILL SIGNING CEREMONY FOR HISTORIC PENSION REFORM LEGISLATION
The following are Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s remarks as delivered in the Red Room of the State Capitol Building today:
“Good afternoon, everyone. We’re honored to be here, a day that I think Stephanie said we may have thought would never arrive, but it has. This really is a truly landmark reform. The pension victory is a huge victory for the taxpayers of New York State – and for the future of the State as a whole.
“In New York City, just to put this in perspective, thanks to the Governor’s leadership, we will save something like $21 billion over the next 30 years. Those savings, incidentally, will be earned without a single current government employee or government retiree being affected. And workers hired in the future will continue to be able to retire securely, with a pension plan that all our residents can better afford.
“In New York City alone, our pension costs have grown by something like $6.5 billion a year since I took office in 2002. Those skyrocketing costs have limited our ability to make investments that are vital to our future. So in many ways, mounting pension costs have represented a double tax: The first tax was paid for by the residents, and the second tax is paid for by our City’s future.
“The Governor often talks about the importance of making New York a more attractive place to for businesses to come here and to grow. But to do that, we all know government must invest in the State’s future and in the future of our citizens. And I think this agreement, which many predicted would never happen, will provide long-term savings that will allow New York City and New York State to invest in our future and ensure that the best days for this state are still ahead.
“Governor Cuomo took on the challenge knowing that it wasn’t going to be easy. But he knew it was the right thing to do for the people of New York State, and he displayed what I think can only be described as real resolve throughout this effort, and also great competency.
“Our administration did everything we could to support him – and so did mayors and county executives from across the state, from both parties, and from rural, urban, and suburban areas.
“Together, we formed a coalition to make sure our voices were heard – and the voices of our constituents. We wanted to make sure that people in Albany knew that we’re out there trying to pay the bills, we’re out there trying to have a future for our children and we needed help. We’re all glad that they came together, the leaders and the members of the State Legislature. After hearing us, they’ve finally taken decisive action.
“This victory is especially gratifying, I think, because it’s been so long in the making. For nearly a decade, our Administration has sounded the alarm about the growth in pensions – and what those costs mean for schools and for public safety and for taxes.
“In cooperation with municipal unions, over the last decade we have achieved some limited progress in addressing the problem. But this agreement provides the kind of comprehensive, broad-based relief that we have so long sought. It solidifies a first round of major savings achieved under Governor Paterson who moved new hires in the Police and Fire Departments into what we call a Tier 3, and then it more than doubles those savings by making additional reforms to all City pension systems, both uniformed and civilian.
“There were a lot of people to thank for making this reform possible. You have to certainly give a lot of credit to Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver and Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb. All three deserve real credit for stepping up and addressing this issue. It wasn’t easy for them, but I think they understood just how important it was for our future.
“I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Larry Schwartz, the Secretary to the Governor, who just did an outstanding job of bringing both houses, and both parties, together.
“And on our staff, Director of State Legislative Affairs, Micah Lasher, as well as Tim Mulligan, who is still, last I checked, number 44 in line at LaGuardia to try to get off and come here. He is our office’s Fiscal Director, and they all worked tirelessly on this issue.
“And I also wanted to thank publically Deputy Mayor for Government Affairs Howard Wolfson, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Bob Steel and Deputy Mayor for Operations Cas Holloway for their leadership throughout this reform effort.
“One of the harder things to do in politics is to pass laws or take on projects where the heavy political lifting happens up front, and the major benefits do not appear for many years – or even decades – down the road. But that is exactly what happened here, and I think everyone involved deserves an enormous amount of credit.
“I’ve listened to some people carp and say, ‘Well, Governor didn’t get everything he asked for.’ If the Governor got everything he asked for, he wasn’t asking for enough. It’s time that we sit back and take a quick victory lap, and then get back to work because we still have an awful lot more to do for this state.
“But Governor, on behalf of at least 8.4 million people, none of whom called me this morning and said, ‘Please tell the Governor congratulations,’ but if they had my private number they probably would have. Congratulations, you did a great job.”
Stu Loeser / Marc La Vorgna (212) 788-2958
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