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Two weeks ago, a half million cheering people gathered in Times Square to celebrate the dawning of an historic year in New York City. In 1997 and 1998 we will mark the 100th anniversary of our five great boroughs joining in partnership to create the world's most famous city.
The excitement in Times Square reminded me of another wonderful gathering three months ago, when millions of joyous fans stood beneath the ticker tape on Broadway to celebrate the Yankees' World Championship.
On both days it seemed that we were celebrating more than just the occasion at hand... We were also celebrating the return of New York as a vibrant, growing city that is once again a city of pride and success.
As I watched the new year arrive, I couldn't help but imagine: what will Times Square be like on the night of December 31st, 1999?
Imagine the excitement when the ball begins to drop. The eyes of the entire world will be watching New York City. I can't help but wonder... what kind of city will they see?
More importantly, what kind of city will we be? Will we continue to be the safest large city in America? Will police officers and communities be permanent partners in improving our quality of life? How well will our children read? Will we have more jobs? How effectively will we care for those most in need? In other words, what kind of city do we want as we enter the 21st Century?
With that milestone just around the corner, it is our responsibility to look ahead and establish the priorities, and to dream the dreams that will prepare our city for the future.
I believe we can realize those dreams. And that belief is based not only on my hopes for what we can achieve in the next three years, but on the solid progress we have made in the last three years.
Time and again we have shown that together we can move New York City in the right direction. We've begun to make landmark reforms in our school system. We've lowered taxes and controlled government spending. We've added more than 110,000 jobs to our private sector economy. We've reduced the welfare rolls by more than 220,000. We've improved our quality of life, and we've made New York the model for crime reduction throughout America, and much of the world.
We've made more changes in the last three years than ever before, but more and bigger challenges lie ahead as we prepare for the 21st century. My enthusiasm for meeting these challenges, and for creating a better quality of life for all New Yorkers is greater today than it was on the day I took office.
If you think we've been an agent for change in the last three years, fasten your seat belts. Because we have a lot more changes to come.
It's been said that I'm the biggest cheerleader for the city, and it's true. I love New York. I'm very proud to be a New Yorker , and I am honored that the people of this great city have chosen me to be their mayor. I was born in Brooklyn. I've lived in Queens and Manhattan. I went to school in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Manhattan. The only place where I haven't lived or gone to school is Staten Island. To compensate, I've spent more time in Staten Island than any Mayor in the history of the city.
It's also been said that I'm the biggest cheerleader for my administration's accomplishments. And why not? I'm proud of the men and women who serve and have served in my administration.
However, the most important change in our city can't be put on a list of accomplishments. But it can be felt throughout every community in New York. I'm talking about a change in spirit, a change from defeatism to hope.
When the ball drops at midnight, December 31, 1999, I want the successful policies of the last three years to be an integral part of our city and the solid foundation for a permanent spirit of courage and confidence... and pride in being a New Yorker.
We have a lot to be proud of in New York. We do more to care for people than any other city in the nation. We do more for our children, for our poor, for our seniors and our sick.
That doesn't mean we can't spend that money more wisely, or even do more. But in fairness, any criticism of New York City should acknowledge the generous amount of help that New Yorkers actually do provide as compared to every other city and state in the nation.
When the ball drops on New Year's Eve 1999, I want to see our neighborhoods and communities enjoying a new age of public safety. We can accomplish this goal by continuing our comprehensive attack on drugs, by reducing crime among young people, and by bridging any gaps that may separate our police department and our communities.
In the first two years of my administration we had a great deal of success in reducing crime and improving the quality of life. Last year we made historic advances in protecting children. Today we must put the same focus and achieve the same success in making the police department and communities partners in improving our quality of life, and in restoring New York City public schools as the very best schools in the country.
The foundation for a new partnership between the police and the communities they serve has already been established, based on the reductions in crime we've achieved over the past three years. We set the ideal of "one standard for one city" and we have lived by it.
Take a community like 165th Street in the Bronx, right around Yankee Stadium (44 precinct.) [The number of homicides was reduced 59 percent last year, and 74 percent since I came into office.] Between 1993 and 1996, the number of people murdered in that community has been reduced from 69 to 18.
In Brooklyn, in East New York (the 75 precinct) [the number of homicides has been reduced 69 percent in the last three years.] Between '93 and '96, murders fell from 126 to 39.
Yes, this dramatic reduction in violence has happened because of excellent police work. But it could never have happened without the cooperation and participation of all of the strong communities of New York.
To foster a permanent partnership between the Police Department and all of our communities, Police Commissioner Howard Safir has instituted a policy called C.P.R., which stands for "Courtesy, Professionalism and Respect."
We have also instituted a Police Department policy of "zero tolerance" for corruption, brutality and disrespect.
But more importantly, substantive training in respect and courtesy is now an important part of the education of every police officer. It is a major priority of my administration that our police understand all of our people and be representative of the entire city. In fact, the current class of 1,500 which will soon be graduating from the police academy is 42 percent minority. And 70 percent of the class resides in New York City.
Commissioner Safir has an outstanding record of recruiting New York residents to fill uniformed positions. As Fire Commissioner he went to court to make certain that we would be able to give five additional points on the entrance exam to city residents. Now Commissioner Safir's leadership is also making our Police Department more representative of the communities it serves.
Through the CompStat program, members of the police department are evaluated by their ability to reduce crime. CompStat has been one of our most effective weapons and was recognized this year by Harvard's Kennedy School as one of the most innovative programs in government.
Now CompStat will be used to promote respect and courtesy. In the evaluation of performance, and in all decisions about advancement and promotion, Commissioner Howard Safir has made a good record of respect and courtesy just as important as a good record of reducing crime.
I want police officers, not drug dealers, to be the role models for children throughout our city -- Police Officers like Charles Davis, who gave his life trying to stop a robbery in Queens, and Vincent Guidice who was killed while saving a woman from domestic violence.
Neither of these two men, one black and the other white, delayed in taking action to protect the life of another human being. Neither one cared about the race, religion, ethnic background, or sexual orientation of the person they gave their lives to protect.
Their sacrifice united the police department with the communities of our city -- just as, day in and day out, the work of Police Officers to reduce crime and protect our citizens throughout New York has united us. Now we must reach out to each other, eliminate any barriers that may still separate us, and become permanent partners in protection.
Standing behind our police officers are strong and dedicated families, who understand and share their traditions of duty and sacrifice. Today we are honored to have with us the wife of Officer Charles Davis, Mrs. Angela Davis, and their daughter Arielle Davis... and the parents of Officer Vincent Guidice, Vito and Eileen Guidice, and his brother Paul Quinn. All New Yorkers join with me in expressing our respect and admiration for them and their families...
Just as we have become a national leader in fighting crime and restoring quality of life, I want New York City to be a national leader in education. We can reach that goal by applying the same dedication and management expertise that have improved so many other areas of New York.
Every day many, many school children visit City Hall, and even more so since the Yankee's World Series Trophy was put on display. I often have the opportunity to talk to with these children. Sometimes it is the best part of my day. And every day they remind me just how important it is that they receive a quality education, so that they can accomplish their goals and realize their dreams.
I know many of you also understand the critical importance of education, because I joined with many of you to fight for the landmark reforms recently passed by the State Legislature.
And I would like to take this opportunity to thank Governor Pataki for his leadership in the area of education. His support was critical to the passage of the new school reforms. Time after time, Governor Pataki has stood up against damaging action that would have cost the city hundreds of millions of dollars.
And even when there have been differences of opinion, he has always been willing to make changes due to his understanding of the city's vital importance as the economic engine of the state. And in that regard, we will be asking the Governor to make certain revisions in his proposal for education and property tax aid.
We will be working with the Governor to make certain that his property tax relief and education aid proposals are equitable, and help New York City children as much as they help the rest of the state. From our analysis, it appears as if the Governor is taking significant steps to assure that our percentage of state school aid is the same as our percentage of the state's school children. We support him in this important effort.
However, we are concerned that the city is being given only nine percent of the tax relief that will be allocated to local governments willing to freeze their property taxes. In New York City, we don't fund our schools through a segregated property tax, so I'm willing to work with the City Council to freeze all of our taxes in accordance with the Governor's proposal. Then there will be no reason to treat the city differently, and we should be entitled to our proportional share of at least 37.9 percent of the tax relief.
It is vital that we support the Governor's move toward equitable treatment for New York City as we seek to help the Chancellor in his efforts to improve our schools. Chancellor Crew has built a team of top professionals, and they have already begun the process of effective reform. Local School Boards now have to work with the Chancellor to appoint district superintendents, and the Chancellor has new authority to remove those responsible for underperforming districts and schools.
For the last five years, I have fought for school-based budgeting, and I congratulate Chancellor Crew for finally making school-based budgeting a reality. The budgeting process is no longer hidden and divorced from the performance of school children. Now parents can see exactly where the Board of Education's dollars are going.
School-based budgeting means we will be better able to identify and prevent any misuse of funds, so that our education dollars can be spent on educating children. Now the budget will begin with the needs of each school -- to increase math scores and increase reading scores.
A culture of unaccountability is being replaced with a culture of performance.
In partnership with the Chancellor, we have earmarked an additional $70 million this year, which, along with the $69 million already allocated for books, can make certain that all our school children will not only have textbooks, but textbooks that don't end with the Vietnam war.
In fact the Board of Education's budget is a half a billion dollars larger now, than when I took office. It's the biggest its ever been, $8.1 billion.
If the Board of Education were a privately held company, it would rank 148th on the "Fortune 500" list of America's largest corporations... with revenues greater than Bethlehem Steel, Microsoft, and even more than Time Warner.
Chancellor Crew has made a lot of progress in redirecting spending, and we will work with him to make certain this continues, and that our money is used to improve math and reading skills. Chancellor Crew and I agree that the most important priority is to make certain that our children can read. Teaching a child to read is giving that child the key to a future of hope and fulfillment.
Each year and by the year 2000 we must show substantial improvement in the basics of education and bring every third grader up to grade level in math and reading.
We must realize Herman Badillo's vision of eliminating social promotions. We must accelerate the learning process when children are young and have the greatest chance of success.
I believe we can jump-start all of these efforts and give our schools the same opportunity to improve reading scores as dramatically and as quickly as we have reduced crime.
So today I am announcing "Project Read." I am asking the Municipal Assistance Corporation to make available $125 million of city money that will be placed in a special fund, specifically for the purpose of helping our children improve their ability to read. I want to thank Ned Regan, chair of the Municipal Assistance Corporation, for the cooperative way he has worked with the city, and particularly for his concern for the young people of New York City.
"Project Read" will provide the Chancellor with the resources and flexibility to give students in grade schools six hours of additional reading instruction per week and other programs, so that all children will have an opportunity to improve their reading.
"Project Read" will focus special attention on the schools that are most in need of assistance. But all schools willing to be held accountable will be eligible if they meet the Chancellor's criteria. The focus is to provide the resources that will improve reading scores based on tough standards. Each school will be required to show a record of success.
This is what we mean when we say that we will replace a culture of unaccountability with a culture of performance. And the performance we will require is much better results in reading, math, science, history, art and all of the other basics of education.
And we will apply higher standards for all schools and school children, and make sure our high school students meet the standards of the Board of Regents.
When it comes to providing adequate space in our school system, we should no longer be playing catch-up. In partnership with Speaker Vallone and the City Council, we will use the additional $1.4 billion we have allocated to rebuild our schools. Now we need the support of the state legislature to implement the Infrastructure Finance Authority, to make certain we can finance this program and the already existing capital program without delays that are harmful to our children.
Since the early days of our city, New York's public schools have allowed our children to take full advantage of the opportunities our democracy provides. Public schools have given children from all backgrounds the basic tools, and much more, to help them enter the economy and outperform the rest of the nation. But the tools our children need today, and will need in the year 2000, have become more complex, and now include computer literacy and proficiency in technology.
To provide these new tools for our children, Chancellor Crew and I are proposing an all-encompassing partnership -- City Hall, the City Council, the Board of Education, and most importantly our business leaders -- to help finance and implement a program that will furnish computers to all of the public schools of our city.
This program will also provide computer training for teachers, and provide necessary staff and professional personnel, so that all students can learn to use computers, and thereby are able to compete and win in this new era of advanced technology.
The City and the Board will provide capital and expense dollars to initiate this new program.
It will cost approximately $150 million, including $115 million in capital costs. To help reduce the expense to the city, we are asking our business community to help lead the effort to raise matching funds and to guide the choices we make in technology and its applications.
We have asked Richard Grasso, Chairman and CEO of the New York Stock Exchange, and Stephen Robert, Chairman of Oppenheimer & Co., Inc., to recruit a broad cross-section of business leaders to assist us in giving these opportunities to all our children by the year 2000.
To give just one example of the pervasiveness of high-technology, we are making history today. For the first time our State of the City speech is being carried live on the Internet. People all over the world can access this speech in real time, and on our homepage they will be able to access it anytime. Now we must ensure that our public school children will enjoy this same advantage, and be able to access the Internet in the classroom.
Together we have done more to reform our school system in the last six months than in the previous 28 years. We now have real hope that the problems can be solved and that we can bring about real improvement in the education of our young people.
But one problem that cannot be solved by computers, textbooks or money is school security. If parents are afraid their children will be harmed in school, or if teachers are afraid in their classrooms, the whole school system will deteriorate, just as the city did in the early 1990s, when records were set for murder.
The safety of our schools and our children must be paramount. When it comes to improving school safety, we have many areas of agreement and one remaining difference I am hopeful we will be able to resolve.
I believe that our police department should be ultimately responsible for the safety of children in school, particularly in schools plagued by the most violence and serious crime. Possibly the best way to resolve this is for the NYPD to take responsibility for the security of the schools that need help the most.
Just look at the tragic events that took place last Wednesday, when four teenagers were shot, one fatally, on a basketball court outside Wingate High School.
The more than 3,000 School security officers should have the supervision and guidance of the most sophisticated crime-fighting organization in the world -- the NYPD.
I am hopeful we can set aside issues of turf and join together to make our children and teachers safe.
It is of critical importance that if a child or young adult displays threatening behavior, there should be the option to remove that child from the school, so that others are not impeded in their desire to learn.
Chancellor Crew and I have been working on an initiative where the city and the Board of Education will work together to develop six schools for students who threaten other students or teachers, so that students can learn and teachers can teach without fear.
We must also complete the work we have already begun to correct one of the mistakes of the past... the elimination of the arts curriculum.
The arts should be equally important as math, history and science. The arts inspire hope. They give children practical tools... they reinforce and enhance creative thinking, increase attention span and improve concentration. But most of all, arts education opens students to the appreciation of beauty. Nothing ennobles a young mind more than learning about painting, sculpture, music, drama and dance.
Chancellor Crew and I, with the help of the Annenberg Foundation, and in partnership with Commissioner Schuyler Chapin and the Department of Cultural Affairs, are working with many talented artists and cultural institutions to restore arts education to all of our public schools.
New York City has some of the highest performing public schools in the country. Now it's time to raise the standards and performance of the many schools that are not the best.
If we work together, by the time the ball drops in 1999, New York City can have outstanding schools that will prepare our children for the new millennium, so that no longer will any of our students graduate without being able to read their diplomas... so that our students can compete in the marketplace and win.
Five Borough Partnership and the Economy
And as we welcome that new millennium, I want to see a city that remains united as one city. It was a century ago that the people of Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Staten Island, and Manhattan, voted to join together as one city. They entered this historic alliance as equal partners.
But when I took office, it was fair to say that for decades city government and politics had placed too much focus on the needs and concerns of one part of one borough of our city, without a similar concern for the rest of the city.
Over the last three years, I have worked very hard to address the needs of all five boroughs. In my inaugural address, I said the term "outer borough" would be declared "politically incorrect." And we have accomplished that, both symbolically and in reality.
To give just one example of this new reality, our city will no longer be dumping its garbage in Staten Island. In the year 2001, the Fresh Kills landfill will be closed.
Most people don't know how rapidly our boroughs are growing. We hear a lot about the historic transformation of Times Square. But many people don't realize that this kind of revitalization can be seen in every borough.
By eliminating the commercial rent tax in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Staten Island, and northern Manhattan, we helped create job growth in every borough, adding 110,000 new private sector jobs to our economy.
And as more people find jobs, they will no longer have to pay two fares to get to work. Two-fare zones were an example of a failure to give equal consideration to many of the neighborhoods of our city.
But today, thanks to the respect we have established for our boroughs as equal partners, everywhere in New York City the two fare zone will be eliminated. All New Yorkers will be treated equally.
Rebalancing the Economy/Taxes
As we look to the future, we must continue to rebalance our economy, so that new jobs and new development become a permanent part of New York City in the 21st century.
I won't rest, and I know you won't, until we restore all of the nearly 400,000 private-sector jobs lost from 1990 through 1993. We've made a lot of progress by restoring 110,000 jobs to our private-sector economy, but there are a lot more changes necessary to get us to our goal of a job for every New Yorker.
Over the last three years we have done a great deal to restructure the city budget. We've reduced city spending and the size of city government. But our most critical decisions lie ahead. Because the key to our future and to ultimate structural balance are the choices we make when the city starts to realize additional revenues, as it is now doing.
We should learn from the mistakes of the past and now follow a policy of reinvesting additional revenues in deficit reduction and tax reduction to stimulate economic growth and create jobs and opportunities. Yes, there is also additional spending that must be done to meet the needs of the city, to improve our schools and quality of life. But reducing our out-year gaps and investing in private-sector development through tax reduction must be given substantial consideration in all of our future financial plans.
First, we should enact the balance of our tax reduction program, providing permanent relief in the sales tax, reductions in the coop and condo property tax, in the unincorporated business tax, and even certain reductions in the income tax.
The sales tax, especially, has a very regressive impact on our economy. Sales taxes depress city revenues by making our retail industry less competitive. Every year the sales tax on clothing costs New York City $700 million in lost retail sales.
Sales taxes particularly hurt lower income families. In fact households earning $20,000 a year or less, on a percentage basis, spend twice as much of their disposable income on clothing, as households with incomes of $40,000 or more.
Starting Saturday, there will be a one week tax holiday on the purchase of clothing under $500. I fought hard to bring this about, and I believe this will prove to be a powerful incentive to retail sales in our five boroughs. It also gives us a chance to send a message to Albany. During the week of January 18th to the 24th, I urge all New Yorkers to "Shop Till They Drop the Tax."
Our tax reductions call for matching cuts from the city and the state. However, if the state will not go along, I pledge to work with the Council and Albany to reduce the city's portion of the sales tax on our own. This will be another step toward the eventual elimination of any sales tax -- city or state -- on clothing purchases.
I want to thank Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver for his leadership in this area. My thanks also to Borough President Guy Molinari for his steadfast support for the elimination of the sales tax. I'm sure I can count on Guy to persuade Senator Bruno. I know how persuasive Guy can be.
And again, I'd like to extend my thanks to Speaker Vallone and the Council for the tax reductions that we have already achieved. By the year 2000 these tax cuts will have saved New Yorkers more than $2.5 billion. In just the last three years we have achieved a net reduction in taxes greater than all of the 14 years between 1979 and 1993. In fact, we have enacted more tax reductions than at any time in the history of this city. But more needs to be done.
Speaker Vallone has targeted other areas for tax reductions, and I look forward to working with him and the City Council to save our taxpayers even more.
And we must continue our fight to reform burdensome zoning regulations that unfairly impede economic development. In the year 2000, I'd like to see the retailers of New York City keep much of the $3.5 billion a year that New Yorkers now spend outside our city.
And more importantly, I want to see an end to New Yorkers paying more for food, clothing and insurance than the residents of Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester. And one way to do that is to bring more of our goods into the city by rail. And that brings us to the Port Authority.
The Port Authority
Every year the Port Authority drains almost $200 million from New York to subsidize the $1 Path train fare and for other New Jersey transportation needs, such as the new monorail at Newark Airport. Our money should stay in New York. In fact, we are now suing the Port Authority to get back some of the money it owes our city.
It's a sad fact that as the quality of life in New York City gets better, the quality of our airports is getting worse. In a survey evaluating 38 of America's largest airports, the two New York City airports run by the Port Authority ranked 35th (Laguardia) and 37th (J.F.K.). And in a study ranking 31 international airports in the United States, Canada and Europe, Kennedy ranked dead last.
We don't need New Jersey as a partner in running LaGuardia and Kennedy, and frankly New Jersey doesn't need us as a partner in running Newark. When the ball drops in 1999, New York City should be well on its way to controlling our own airports.
And I would like to take this opportunity to thank Borough President Claire Shulman for her leadership in the effort to improve our airports.
Ironically, the Port Authority was founded in 1921 specifically to build a rail tunnel between New York and New Jersey... and they never built it. Which means that today New York City has to haul in most of our food on trucks. That makes food more expensive and adds to pollution and traffic congestion.
But now New York City is taking action to solve this problem. Today I am announcing that the City of New York will complete the job that the Port Authority was supposed to do 76 years ago. We are committing the necessary resources to determine where to build a freight rail tunnel between New York and New Jersey.
And we are committing the necessary resources to determine where to locate a port to go with it. Benefits from the proposed tunnel and port would outweigh costs by as much as $1.6 billion.
By the early part of the 21st century, the new tunnel and port can be vital parts of a healthy, growing city where a pro-business philosophy and strong communities continue to create jobs and opportunities for all New Yorkers.
However, New York City is not only the capital of business and finance, but also the capital of caring for people. And to defend that tradition, we must do a more effective job of using our resources, and protecting our services for those truly in need.
And as the most important single thing we can do for the future of our city, I have made helping children and helping families a cornerstone of this administration.
In addition to providing a better education, we must also do all we can to protect our children from abuse and neglect.
By the year 2000, the innovations we have already begun will be paying dividends. Our recently created Administration for Children's Services is the largest child welfare agency in the nation, with a budget now in excess of $1.7 billion. It is our city's first agency totally devoted to children's safety.
Under the leadership of Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta, the A.C.S. has one overriding objective -- to first, last and always protect the safety of our children.
Our priorities are outlined in a report that was recently released by Commissioner Scoppetta. The report is a major step forward in our efforts to transform the A.C.S. into a high-performance, results driven organization. This report makes it clear that at A.C.S. any ambiguity regarding the safety of a child is resolved in favor of removing the child from harm's way.
The most important element of the report is its emphasis on accountability both within the agency, and for all New Yorkers. Because everyone is responsible for ensuring the health and safety of our children.
Neighbors, family and friends must come forward to protect young people. You can't save children if people are afraid to report abuse, or if relatives and neighbors mislead caseworkers about suspected abuse.
Cries can't go unanswered. Screams can't go unheard. Bruises can't go unseen.
In the year 2000 I want us to realize that the protection, health and safety of children is the job of all New Yorkers, so that the children of our city can lead more secure lives. But to do that we must also protect them from the crime of domestic violence.
There is a tragic link between domestic violence and child abuse. Half of all men who batter their wives, also abuse their children. Children who grow up in violent homes are 75% more likely to commit a criminal assault.
I remember that back in 1993, domestic violence was still hidden behind closed doors. Nobody wanted to talk about it.
In the last three years we've not only talked about it, we've done something about it. We've made New York City a national leader in recognizing this terrible tragedy and in battling to eliminate it.
We've moved from a system that used to put the responsibility on victims to escape violence, to a system that helps victims find safety. With the help of security equipment and criminal justice initiatives we are turning the system around and getting the hitter out of the home.
Today, help is only a phone call away. The city's first dedicated domestic violence hotline offers help 24 hours a day. And the city's first domestic violence public awareness campaign has doubled calls to the hotline. The hotline now receives more than 4,000 calls a month.
All public hospitals -- and four voluntary hospitals -- have domestic violence coordinators who train hospital staff and identify and counsel victims. And we have instituted domestic violence training for the entire police department. These measures have resulted in a 43% increase in family offense arrests.
As we look ahead to the 21st century, our city will work to further increase public awareness, implement more training and coordination for law enforcement and health care professionals; and place greater emphasis on private sector partnerships.
I see these partnerships changing the way we deal with domestic violence. Entire communities, from businesses to residents to hospitals, schools, the police department and the courts will all be working together to identify abuse and eliminate it.
And in our neighborhoods, I see better health care for our residents.
When the ball drops for the year 2000, instead of disadvantaged New Yorkers seeking medical care in overwhelmed emergency rooms, I see New Yorkers getting the medical care they need in their communities. As the number of hospital beds is reduced, those resources must be redistributed to primary care clinics in communities throughout the city.
The City has developed one of the most innovative financing methods in the country. Public private partnerships that do not involve taxpayer expense will build 28 new clinics in the neediest communities as part of the Primary Care Development Corporation. From now until 2000, that will mean one million new primary care visits.
The City's greatest health care challenge, however, is caring for the uninsured. People with private insurance or Medicaid overwhelmingly choose private hospitals. So why should the uninsured be forced to rely solely on public hospitals?
In order for managed care providers to gain access to large pools of insured people, they will be required to cover a certain number of uninsured people. By pooling the insured and the uninsured, we can give everyone the same opportunity for quality health care.
We are not going to abandon our commitment to provide health care for the poor. That was made clear in the lease agreement with Coney Island Hospital. Although special interests have made it difficult to understand the truth, our lease agreement with Coney Island Hospital not only guarantees that they will continue to provide care for the poor, it requires them to expand that care by 15 percent.
In the year 2000 we will have brought incentives to the marketplace that encourage people to use primary care, and that hold the system accountable for improving the health of all New Yorkers, rich and poor, insured and uninsured.
When I look to the future, I see two issues that could have a dramatic affect on our city.
The first of these is in the area of welfare reform. Recent federal welfare reform will have a far-reaching effect on New York City. And if we don't join together to oppose some of the misguided portions of this reform, it could do a great deal of harm.
We will continue to move ahead with our reforms that have already yielded the largest movement of people off welfare and into work in city history.
Based on our success, when I look to the future I see a city where a culture of dependency and a culture of hopelessness is replaced by a culture of self-sufficiency and a culture of self-respect.
Our Workfare Program recognizes the value and potential of the individual. And we have returned to the welfare system a sense of the social contract: that for every benefit there is an obligation; for every right a duty.
Stanley Hill and Charlie Hughes are with us today. Their creativity and visionary union leadership has made them dynamic partners in our Workfare Program. And in the coming years I see a continuation and strengthening of that partnership.
Also with us today is Ms. Lola Armand, who successfully completed the Work Experience Program with the city. She now has a permanent job and is a member of Local 372.
Last month, at Charlie Hughes' Christmas party, Ms. Armand spoke about how workfare changed her life. She had lost hope. She thought she'd never get a job again, and thanked me for giving her an opportunity to prove herself, an opportunity she's made the most of.
Ms. Armand, today I would like to thank you, not only for succeeding in your new job, but for being a role model and an inspiration for our entire city. Congratulations.
In the year 2000 I see many more people like Ms. Armand who take advantage of the opportunity to show that they are willing, reliable, trusted employees, and prove their value to employers.
When people have jobs, our city has hope.
And we will take on any challenge and make any change necessary to bring our city jobs, more jobs and still more jobs. As I've said, I will not rest until we've restored all of the jobs we lost in the early '90s and provide all New Yorkers with the opportunity to take care of themselves and their families.
So, we welcome federal efforts to reform the welfare system. But the new federal welfare legislation may require too much, too soon. And as an unfunded mandate, it surely requires too much, too soon. For example, we are mandated to move parents with children into workfare, but aren't given sufficient funds to care for the children.
If the federal government wants us to share in the costs of these mandates, we are willing to do so. But the federal government must be willing to fund them at realistic levels.
Because the reality is that workfare programs cost money. Daycare costs money. Administrative services and transitional health benefits cost money.
New York City can speak about welfare from a position of strength, because while the federal government has been debating welfare reform, we've actually been doing it. In the last two years we have reduced our welfare roles more than any city or state in the nation. I know that Wisconsin is often cited as a leader in welfare reform -- and quite correctly. But the fact is that the 220,000 people we moved off welfare in New York City is almost two and a half times more than the entire welfare population of Wisconsin -- before they began their reform effort -- and our workfare program of 35,000 people is the largest in the country.
And we made these reforms on our own, before the 1996 federal welfare legislation took effect. In fact, our reforms are based on Senator Moynihan's "Family Support Act of 1988." In my opinion it is really a better blueprint for reform than the recent legislation.
We will educate. We will advocate, and we will make alliances with any political party, or group willing to make welfare reform realistic, humane and decent.
When the year 2000 arrives, New York City and State, and the federal government, should be equal partners in welfare reform. If we work together, we can break the cycle of welfare dependency, without breaking the bank of our city and state governments.
Another national issue with serious consequences for New York City is the recently enacted federal immigration reforms. Just as New York is leading the nation in fighting crime and reforming welfare, we must also lead the nation over the next several years to a much deeper understanding of the vital importance of immigration to our city and the United States.
The proponents of this anti-immigration agenda advocate a negative philosophy that sees people as liabilities rather than assets. But the truth is that New York is America's richest most successful city. And we also have one of the highest immigrant populations of any city.
A recently released Department of City Planning report clearly illustrates that immigration maintains our population, and helps to reinvent our city. From the Russians in Brighton Beach to the West Indians in Crown Heights... from the Dominicans in Washington Heights to the Irish in Woodlawn, immigrant communities continue to rebuild, rejuvenate and reinvigorate neighborhoods throughout the City of New York.
Immigrants bring new ideas, new energy and a new appreciation for American values and ideals. They challenge us to do better. We all benefit from their industry and prosperity.
New York City sends $12 billion dollars more to the federal government than we receive back. Essentially, money from New York City is used to subsidize services in other regions of the country. We subsidize Arkansas and Georgia, which receive over $1.5 billion more than they send to Washington.
The fact is that America depends on New York and New York depends on immigration.
What the federal government calls "immigration reform," like their so-called "welfare reform," is actually just a shifting of massive costs to large cities and states. Nothing in the federal bill will significantly affect the level of either legal or illegal immigration. This is really just an attempt to remove federal funding for immigrants who are sick, injured, disabled or elderly.
Essentially, the federal government welcomes immigrants here when they are young and healthy. It takes their taxes in equal measure with citizens and benefits from their productivity. But if they get sick, or need other kinds of assistance, the federal government will now abandon them, and suddenly it's left to the states and cities to provide humane and critical assistance.
Seventy-five percent of the resulting costs will be shouldered by four states -- California, Florida, Texas and New York. They have most of America's immigrants. They also produce most of America's wealth.
Ironically, the anti-immigration movement began in California, but the new federal legislation will cost California taxpayers the most -- even more than New Yorkers -- perhaps more than $1 billion a year.
People from all over the country must join together and argue for changes in the federal legislation, and we should use our electoral power to make sure Washington understands how important this issue is.
Last Thursday, in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty on Ellis Island, I announced the establishment of the Immigration Coalition, which is a broad cross section of prominent New Yorkers, business leaders and concerned organizations.
This Coalition has joined with me to change the attitude of America toward immigration, to emphasize the positive influence that immigration has on our country.
The Coalition will work to make sure the federal government doesn't walk away from its responsibilities, or make America an undesirable place for immigrants. Since John Winthrop first called us "A city on the hill," America and especially New York City have been a beacon of hope and decency for people in every corner of the globe.
They used to say the streets in America, most often referring to New York, were paved with gold. Well, they never really were paved with gold. But they are paved with opportunity. And we must remain a place of opportunity for immigrants seeking to build better lives for themselves and their families. We must not allow the "City on the hill" to become a valley of fear and exclusion.
When the ball drops in 1999, I want New York to have led America to a deeper and more decent understanding of the vital importance of immigration, so that America's 21st century will be even more prosperous and successful than our 20th century.
As we mark the 100th Anniversary of the uniting of New York City, and as we prepare for the year 2000, we must now build on the momentum of our success.
History is not predestined or preordained. The world of tomorrow is created by the choices we make today... choices that reflect the importance of every human being.
And on the morning of January 1st, 2000, when the sun rises on a new century in New York City, New Yorkers will continue to feel a spirit of courage, confidence and pride.
When the sun rises on that historic day, New York will have the restored to the heart and soul of our nation a fuller more equitable and more decent understanding of immigration and welfare reform. And we will have helped to ensure that America and New York City remain a "City on the hill."
When the sun rises on the 21st century, we will see New Yorkers who have taken advantage of the opportunity to work, and who are contributing to their society, in control of their own lives, and feeling proud.
We will see a city where dependency has been replaced by the the social contract, where people are reinforcing their self-worth by taking care of themselves and their families.
We will see our city maintaining and strengthening its tradition of compassion and caring for our sick and our poor.
We will see communities with new jobs and opportunities.
When the sun rises in the year 2000, we will see a school system that has been restored as the best in the nation, preparing our children to compete and succeed.
When the sun rises, we will see neighborhoods throughout New York enjoying a new era of cooperation, communication and respect, where a partnership of protection makes our families safe on the streets and in their homes.
In the sunlight of that great day, we will see a New York City that is proud, vibrant, growing, and optimistic, a city that is the capital of the world in the millennium to come.