Gotham Gazette: Searchlight: 2004 State Of The City JUMP TO YOUR DISTRICT
 
 

City Council Speaker Gifford Miller's 2004 State of the City Address

Calling Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan to give homeowners a $400 property tax rebate a "gimmick" and a "play from the Bush playbook," City Council Speaker Gifford Miller announced his own tax cut plan to rival the mayor's. (Read entire text of the speech)

While Bloomberg's tax rebate would only apply to condo, co-op, and homeowners, Miller wants to cut all property taxes for homeowners, renters, and businesses by two percent. In addition, the speaker would eliminate the 18.5 percent property tax increase for all senior citizens homeowners living on a fixed income and create a city earned income tax credit for low income New Yorkers.

"Unlike the mayor's plan, which would leave out 80 percent of the property tax payers, would be temporary, and has nothing for renters or businesses, this plan will give lasting and predictable relief to all of the New York's more than 3 million home and business owners," said Miller.

The mayor and the City Council must agree on a budget by June. With $1.4 billion surplus in this year's budget, both sides are hoping to appeal to New Yorkers who saw their taxes increased in the last two years.

Miller also outlined the City Council's legislative agenda for the year. He promised that the council would pass bills to:
- Create a prescription drug card program that would allow uninsured New Yorkers to save up to 50 percent on prescription drugs.
- Allow bar owners to hire police to keep noise down outside of their establishments
- Ensure that private schools have nurses
- Allow police to track ammunition purchases
- Reform the city's fines for garbage violations for homeowners
- Crack down on fees and costs in so-called pay-day loans
- Require the police department and the department of education to report on how many school safety officers are needed
- Create "School-Stat," a centralized database of incidents of school violence.

Education was another major component of speaker's address. Citing a recent report that found only three percent of the city's schools in a "state of good repair," Miller promised a capital budget that will alleviate overcrowding, repair crumbling buildings, and build music and art rooms, science labs, and gyms.

"To accomplish that goal, we will need to fight for funding in Albany," Miller said. "But we are not going to get it by asking nicely, and we're not going to get it by just saying 'please.'"

SPEAKER GIFFORD MILLER'S STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS 2004

FIGHTING FOR ALL NEW YORKERS
Delivered February 25, 2004

MY COLLEAGUES ON THE COUNCIL, FRIENDS AND FELLOW NEW YORKERS:

I APPRECIATE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO ADDRESS THE CITIZENS OF NEW YORK - TO RECALL THE RECORD OF THE PAST TWO YEARS ALONG WITH THE CHALLENGES WE FACE AND THE COURSE OF ACTION WE MUST PURSUE IN THE DAYS AHEAD.

THIS GREAT ROOM IN WHICH WE ARE GATHERED IS A PUBLIC PLACE, A CIVIC PLACE; A ROOM RICH WITH NEW YORK HISTORY AND INFUSED WITH THE CONSCIENCE OF OUR CITY. IT IS ALSO, FOR MANY OF US HERE, A SITE OF BOTH PUBLIC AND PERSONAL LOSS.

JAMES DAVIS WAS A MAN OF STRONG CONVICTIONS WHO FOUGHT FOR THE THINGS HE BELIEVED IN. THERE IS HONOR ENOUGH IN THAT. BUT HE WAS ALSO OUR COLLEAGUE AND OUR FRIEND. AND WE WILL NOT FORGET HIM OR HIS CONTRIBUTIONS TO THIS LEGISLATIVE BODY AND TO OUR CITY.

LIKE JAMES DAVIS, WE, TOO, MUST STAND UP AND FIGHT FOR WHAT WE BELIEVE IN. THAT IS OUR CALLING. THAT IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO THE CITIZENS WHOM WE REPRESENT. EACH OF US RAN FOR OFFICE BECAUSE WE HAD FAITH IN GOVERNMENT'S POTENTIAL TO HELP PEOPLE - AND OUR RECORD OF THE LAST TWO YEARS OFFERS CLEAR EVIDENCE THAT THIS FAITH HAS NOT BEEN MISPLACED.

TODAY I AM PROUD TO BE A MEMBER OF THIS COUNCIL. BECAUSE IN THIS COUNCIL WE FIGHT FOR WHAT WE BELIEVE IN. BECAUSE IN THIS COUNCIL, WE STAND UP FOR ALL NEW YORKERS.

OVER THE PAST TWO YEARS, WE STOOD UP FOR 50 THOUSAND WORKING NEW YORKERS AND THEIR FAMILIES BY PASSING A LIVING WAGE BILL TO HELP LIFT THEM OUT OF POVERTY.

WE STOOD UP FOR ALL THE CHILDREN IN THIS CITY BY PASSING LEGISLATION TO PROTECT THEM FROM LEAD PAINT POISONING AND TO PROTECT THEIR FUTURES FROM THE IRREPARABLE HARM OF BRAIN DAMAGE AND LEARNING DISABILITIES.

WE STOOD UP FOR THE THOUSANDS OF NEW YORKERS TRYING TO MAKE THE TRANSITION FROM WELFARE TO WORK BY PASSING LEGISLATION THAT ALLOWS THEM ACCESS TO THE TRAINING AND EDUCATION, COMBINED WITH WORK, THAT THEY NEED TO BUILD A REAL FUTURE.

WE STOOD UP FOR COMMUNITIES PLAGUED BY DISGRACEFULLY HIGH RATES OF CHILDHOOD ASTHMA AND PASSED LEGISLATION REQUIRING CITY VEHICLES TO USE CLEANER BURNING FUELS, A FIRST OF ITS KIND LAW THAT'S BEEN PRAISED BY BOTH THE EPA AND ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS.

WE STOOD UP FOR WOMEN IN THIS CITY BY PASSING LEGISLATION REQUIRING EVERY NEW YORK CITY HOSPITAL TO OFFER EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION TO VICTIMS OF RAPE AND SEXUAL ASSAULT.

AND WE STOOD UP FOR THE HARD WORKING IMMIGRANTS OF THIS CITY BY PASSING LANGUAGE ACCESS LEGISLATION TO BREAK DOWN THE BARRIERS THAT SEPARATE THEM FROM THE CITY SERVICES THEY DESERVE.

I WANT TO SALUTE ALL OF MY COLLEAGUES HERE FOR THE WORK YOU HAVE DONE. TOGETHER WE HAVE BUILT UNITY AND STRENGTH ON THE FOUNDATION OF OUR DIVERSITY. WE HAVE DISCOVERED COMMON VALUES IN OUR DIFFERENT EXPERIENCES AND WE HAVE SET A STANDARD OF SENSIBLE AND COMPASSIONATE STEWARDSHIP OF PUBLIC RESOURCES IN A TIME OF GREAT UNCERTAINTY AND NEED.

I DO NOT NEED TO TELL YOU ABOUT THE DIFFICULT ENVIRONMENT IN WHICH WE HAVE OPERATED OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS. THE WORST TERRORIST ATTACK IN AMERICAN HISTORY. A JOB-DESTROYING NATIONAL RECESSION. AN ANEMIC, JOBLESS RECOVERY. THROUGH IT ALL, THIS COUNCIL HAS STOOD UP FOR THE VALUES AND PRIORITIES OF ALL NEW YORKERS.

THIS COUNCIL HAS PROVIDED A STEADY HAND AT THE WHEEL. OUR APPROACH HAS BEEN CONSISTENT AND ROOTED IN THE VALUES OF THE PEOPLE WE REPRESENT. WE HAVE PRACTICED FISCAL DISCIPLINE WHILE PROTECTING OUR QUALITY OF LIFE AND OUR MOST VULNERABLE CITIZENS.

WITH LITTLE HELP... AND SOMETIMES GREAT HARM... FROM REPUBLICAN ADMINISTRATIONS IN ALBANY AND WASHINGTON, NEW YORK CITY TODAY IS HEALTHIER ECONOMICALLY AND FISCALLY THAN MANY ANTICIPATED. THIS COUNCIL'S ACTIONS - PARTICULARLY ON TAX AND BUDGET POLICY - HAVE PLAYED A VITAL ROLE IN SECURING THAT STRENGTH.

BUT THE GREATEST CREDIT GOES TO THE HARD-WORKING PEOPLE OF NEW YORK. THEIR SPIRIT HAS MADE THIS CHALLENGING TIME ONE OF OUR FINEST MOMENTS. IT IS THE GREATEST ASSET WE HAVE - AND MY GREATEST PRIVILEGE AS SPEAKER OF THE CITY COUNCIL IS TO WITNESS THAT SPIRIT ON THE STREETS OF EVERY NEIGHBORHOOD EVERY DAY.

I SEE IT IN THE FACES OF THE PARENTS WHO GET UP AND GO TO WORK EACH MORNING SO THEIR KIDS CAN HAVE A BETTER LIFE... OR THE IMMIGRANT ENTREPRENEUR TRYING TO BRING NEW JOBS TO HER NEIGHBORHOOD... OR THE FIRE FIGHTERS AND THE POLICE OFFICERS WHO KEEP US SAFE. THESE ARE PEOPLE WHO WILL NOT BE DETERRED BY HARD TIMES OR TERRORIST THREATS - THEY REFUSE TO TURN BACK. THEY ARE DETERMINED TO TAKE OUR CITY FORWARD.

AS A NEW YORKER, I AM FOCUSED NOT ON THE PAST BUT ON THE FUTURE OF OUR CITY. IN THE MONTHS AHEAD, THIS COUNCIL WILL CONTINUE TO STAND UP FOR OUR VALUES AND OUR PRIORITIES... FOR WHAT IS RIGHT.

WE WILL STAND UP FOR FAIR TAXATION. WE WILL STAND UP FOR A SENSIBLE BUDGET THAT KEEPS SPENDING IN CHECK BUT PROTECTS OUR MOST CRITICAL INVESTMENTS. WE WILL STAND UP FOR A LEGISLATIVE AGENDA THAT PUTS NEW YORKERS FIRST. WE WILL STAND UP FOR SCHOOLS WHERE OUR KIDS CAN LEARN AND OUR TEACHERS CAN TEACH. AND WE WILL STAND UP FOR A FAIR SHARE FOR NEW YORK. DEALING WITH OUR FISCAL CHALLENGES HAS BEEN JOB NUMBER ONE OF THIS COUNCIL, AND IT REMAINS JOB NUMBER ONE.

EARLY ON THE MAYOR BOUNCED AROUND ON THE FISCAL CRISIS. YOU'LL RECALL THAT HE BEGAN 2002 BY DENYING THAT THE CRISIS EXISTED, DECLARING NO TAX INCREASES WERE NECESSARY, THAT WE WOULD SIMPLY CUT THE BUDGET ACROSS THE BOARD WITH NO "SACRED COWS."

BY THE END OF THE YEAR, IT SEEMED THAT NO TAX INCREASE WAS HIGH ENOUGH AS HE PROPOSED A 25 PERCENT PROPERTY TAX INCREASE, LARGE INCOME TAX INCREASES, HIGHER SALES TAXES, AND INCREASES IN FEES AND FINES.

NOW WE HAVE REACHED A NEW SEASON, AND THE MAYOR HAS A NEW APPROACH, OFFERING A PROPERTY TAX REBATE FOR ONLY A FEW.

LET'S BE HONEST. THE MAYOR'S REBATE IS A GIMMICK. IT IS A PAGE TORN STRAIGHT FROM THE BUSH PLAYBOOK.

IT IS NOT A TAX CUT - IT IS A ONE TIME CHECK WRITTEN OUT TO ONLY 20 PERCENT OF THE PROPERTY TAXPAYERS IN THIS CITY. IT IS A PHONY SOLUTION TO A REAL PROBLEM.

THE MAYOR'S PROPOSAL WOULD LEAVE BUSINESSES AND RENTERS TO BEAR THE WHOLE PROPERTY TAX BURDEN BY THEMSELVES. IT WON'T PROVIDE RELIEF WHERE IT'S NEEDED MOST AND WON'T PROVIDE RELIEF THAT'S FAIR AND EQUITABLE.

AND THERE IS ANOTHER BIG PROBLEM WITH THE MAYOR'S PROPOSAL. IT SIMPLY IGNORES THE SEEMINGLY ARBITRARY ASSESSMENTS THAT ARE RISING AT HISTORIC RATES. IT IS DISINGENUOUS TO SAY YOU ARE GIVING HOMEOWNERS A REBATE AND NOT FACTOR IN BIG INCREASES IN HOME ASSESSMENTS. NEW YORKERS WANT FAIRNESS. THEY DON'T WANT A REBATE IN ONE HAND AND A BIG TAX INCREASE IN THE OTHER. THE DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE SHOULD GO BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD AND REEVALUATE THESE ASSESSMENTS.

AND THE PEOPLE OF THIS CITY SHOULD GET THE REAL RELIEF THAT THEY DESERVE. BECAUSE ALL NEW YORKERS - PROPERTY OWNERS AND RENTERS ALIKE - BORE THE BURDEN OF THE LAST PROPERTY TAX INCREASE, I BELIEVE ALL NEW YORKERS ARE SIMILARLY ENTITLED TO RELIEF.

SO TODAY I AM STANDING FOR A THREE POINT TAX CUT PLAN THAT GIVES THE GREATEST BENEFIT TO THOSE THAT NEED IT MOST, SPURS JOB CREATION, AND PROVIDES REAL RELIEF TO ALL NEW YORKERS.

FIRST, I AM PROPOSING THE TOTAL AND PERMANENT ELIMINATION OF THE 18.5 PERCENT PROPERTY TAX INCREASE FOR THE 140,000 SENIOR HOMEOWNERS LIVING ON A FIXED INCOME AND THEIR FAMILIES.

WE WILL START WITH OUR SENIORS - BECAUSE IF YOU'RE A SENIOR LIVING ON A FIXED INCOME AND YOUR PROPERTY TAXES GO UP, THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO. YOU ARE STUCK WITH A CHOICE BETWEEN BUYING MEDICINE AND PAYING YOUR TAX BILL. WE WILL NOT ALLOW THAT TO HAPPEN. THIS PROPOSAL WILL END THAT TERRIBLE CHOICE... PERMANENTLY. WE WILL NOT ABANDON THE PEOPLE WHO BUILT THIS CITY.

SECOND, THE POOREST NEW YORKERS ALSO FACE THE KINDS OF CHOICES NO ONE SHOULD HAVE TO MAKE. AND THEY ARE BEING SQUEEZED BY RISING COSTS WHEREVER THEY TURN. THEY ARE PAYING MORE IN RENT. MORE IN BUS AND SUBWAY FAIRS. MORE FOR CHILD CARE. THEY NEED HELP.

THROUGH THE EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT, THESE HARD WORKING NEW YORKERS PAY NO FEDERAL INCOME TAX AND NO STATE INCOME TAX. BUT THEY STILL PAY A CITY INCOME TAX. THAT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE. IT'S NOT RIGHT.

IT IS PAST TIME TO EXTEND THIS COMMON SENSE TAX CUT TO HELP LIFT THESE NEW YORKERS OUT OF POVERTY AND INTO A LIFETIME OF OPPORTUNITY. OUR PRINCIPLE IS TO PROVIDE THE GREATEST TAX RELIEF WHERE IT'S NEEDED MOST - AND THEN TO EXTEND RESPONSIBLE CUTS TO ALL NEW YORKERS.

SO THE THIRD PART OF MY PLAN IS A TWO PERCENT DECREASE IN THE PROPERTY TAX RATE - ACROSS THE BOARD - AND PERMANENTLY.

UNLIKE THE MAYOR'S PLAN, WHICH WOULD LEAVE OUT 80 PERCENT OF PROPERTY TAX PAYERS, WOULD BE TEMPORARY, AND HAS NOTHING FOR RENTERS OR BUSINESSES, THIS PLAN WILL GIVE LASTING AND PREDICTABLE RELIEF TO ALL OF NEW YORK'S MORE THAN 3 MILLION HOME AND BUSINESS OWNERS.

THIS PLAN IS GOOD FOR SENIORS ON FIXED INCOMES, WHO GET A PERMANENT ELIMINATION OF THE 18.5 PERCENT PROPERTY TAX INCREASE. IT IS GOOD FOR THE POOREST NEW YORKERS, GIVING THEM A HAND UP TO LIFT THEIR FAMILIES OUT OF POVERTY.

IT IS GOOD FOR THE MILLIONS OF RENTERS IN NEW YORK, WHO ALREADY PAY A HIGHER PERCENTAGE OF THEIR INCOMES TOWARD RENT THAN IN ANY OTHER CITY IN THE COUNTRY. AND THE MILLIONS OF NEW YORKERS LIVING IN RENT REGULATED APARTMENTS WILL BENEFIT FROM THIS PLAN BECAUSE THE RENT GUIDELINES BOARD FACTORS PROPERTY TAX RATES INTO ITS ANNUAL ADJUSTMENTS.

IT IS GOOD FOR SMALL BUSINESSES, WHO HAVE BEEN FORCED BY HIGHER TAXES TO CHOOSE BETWEEN LAYING OFF WORKERS AND RAISING PRICES ON CUSTOMERS. IT IS GOOD FOR JOB CREATION, BECAUSE LOWER TAXES MEAN LOWER LEASE RATES, MORE BUSINESSES AND MORE JOBS. THERE IS SIMPLY A LIMIT TO WHAT BUSINESSES WILL PAY TO STAY IN NEW YORK.

AND IT IS GOOD, OVER THE LONG TERM, FOR ALL HOMEOWNERS, WHO WILL SEE A PERMANENT CUT YEAR-AFTER-YEAR IN THEIR PROPERTY TAX RATE.

TAKEN TOGETHER, MY PLAN WILL PROVIDE NEARLY $300 MILLION IN TAX RELIEF TO NEW YORKERS.

THIS IS SIMPLY A BETTER WAY.
-IT'S FISCALLY RESPONSIBLE;
-IT PROVIDES RELIEF FOR THOSE WHO NEED IT MOST;
-IT REDUCES TAXES FAIRLY ACROSS THE BOARD;
-IT IS PERMANENT AND PREDICTABLE.

AND WHILE WE CUT TAXES IN ORDER TO SPUR GROWTH AND HELP OUR MOST VULNERABLE, WE WILL AGAIN STAND UP FOR A SENSIBLE BUDGET THAT KEEPS SPENDING IN CHECK BUT PROTECTS OUR MOST CRITICAL INVESTMENTS.

THE MAYOR'S BUDGET PROPOSAL HAS PRODUCED A GREAT DEAL OF DISCUSSION. SOME HAVE EVEN TAKEN TO CALLING IT A "GOOD NEWS" BUDGET.

BUT IT'S NOT GOOD NEWS IF YOU'RE A STUDENT STRUGGLING TO PAY FOR A COLLEGE EDUCATION - BECAUSE THE MAYOR'S BUDGET ELIMINATES THE VALLONE MERIT SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM.

IT'S NOT GOOD NEWS IF YOU'RE A PARENT TRYING TO BALANCE WORK AND FAMILY - BECAUSE THE MAYOR'S BUDGET ELIMINATES 2,500 DAY-CARE SLOTS.

IT'S NOT GOOD NEWS IF YOU'RE A SICK CHILD IN NEED OF MEDICAL ATTENTION - BECAUSE THE MAYOR'S BUDGET CUTS MORE THAN $5 MILLION FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH. THAT COULD MEAN THE CLOSURE OF AS MANY AS 11 CHILD HEALTH CLINICS.

IT'S NOT GOOD NEWS IF YOU'RE A TEENAGER LOOKING FOR A SUMMER JOB - BECAUSE THE MAYOR'S BUDGET ELIMINATES 10,000 SUMMER YOUTH JOBS AT A TIME WHEN UNEMPLOYMENT IN THE CITY STILL FAR EXCEEDS THE NATIONAL AVERAGE AND WHEN YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT IS AT CRISIS LEVELS.

IT'S NOT GOOD NEWS IF YOU'RE A SENIOR CITIZEN - BECAUSE THE MAYOR'S BUDGET CUTS $11 MILLION FROM SERVICES TO THE ELDERLY; IT ELIMINATES WEEKEND MEAL SERVICE... DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE MAYOR HIMSELF SAID HE WOULD NOT LEAVE BEHIND THE PEOPLE WHO BUILT THIS CITY.

IT'S NOT GOOD NEWS IF YOU LIVE IN COMMUNITIES THAT ARE DISPROPORTIONATELY AFFECTED BY HIV AND AIDS - BECAUSE THE MAYOR'S BUDGET CUTS $3 MILLION AND ELIMINATES THE CITY COUNCIL'S HIV/AIDS OUTREACH AND PREVENTION INITIATIVE IN COMMUNITIES OF COLOR.

AND FINALLY IT'S NOT GOOD NEWS FOR THE MILLIONS OF PEOPLE WHO VISIT OUR LIBRARIES - BECAUSE THE MAYOR'S BUDGET WOULD ELIMINATE FIVE DAY A WEEK SERVICE FOR THE FIRST TIME IN DECADES.

MY COLLEAGUES AND I WILL STAND UP AGAINST THESE CUTS. AND WE WILL PREVAIL.

AND WE WILL ALSO STAND UP FOR A LEGISLATIVE AGENDA THAT PUTS EVERY NEW YORKER FIRST BY PROTECTING HEALTH AND QUALITY OF LIFE IN THIS CITY. GOVERNMENT'S FIRST RESPONSIBILITY - THE VERY REASON IT EXISTS - IS TO PROTECT ITS CITIZENS. AND THIS COUNCIL WILL STAND UP FOR THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF NEW YORKERS.

RIGHT NOW, OVER 2 MILLION PEOPLE IN THIS CITY DON'T HAVE COVERAGE FOR PRESCRIPTION DRUGS. I HAVE PROPOSED THAT NEW YORK CITY CREATE A DISCOUNT DRUG CARD PROGRAM TO PROVIDE THESE NEW YORKERS, REGARDLESS OF AGE, WITH ACCESS TO AFFORDABLE PRESCRIPTION DRUGS. IT WOULD ALLOW THEM TO SAVE UP TO 50 PERCENT ON THE COST OF PRESCRIPTION MEDICATION - WITHOUT COSTING THE CITY ONE PENNY.

THIS IS BEING DONE RIGHT NOW IN NASSAU COUNTY AND IN WESTCHESTER. AND WE SHOULD DO IT TOO. TOMORROW, COUNCIL MEMBERS BAEZ AND RIVERA WILL INTRODUCE A BILL TO MAKE THE DISCOUNT DRUG CARD PROGRAM A REALITY - AND THIS YEAR WE WILL PASS IT.

THE ADMINISTRATION RECENTLY DECIDED TO TAKE FULL-TIME NURSES OUT OF HUNDREDS OF PAROCHIAL AND NONPUBLIC SCHOOLS AND OUT OF ALL CITY SUMMER SCHOOLS. IT'S SIMPLY UNCONSCIONABLE TO MAKE PARENTS IN THESE SCHOOLS WORRY THAT THEIR CHILDREN MIGHT DIE FROM TREATABLE ILLNESSES LIKE AN ASTHMA ATTACK BECAUSE THEY DON'T HAVE ACCESS TO A SCHOOL NURSE.

WE WILL NOT SHORTCHANGE OUR CHILDREN'S HEALTH. COUNCIL MEMBER MCMAHON HAS A BILL TO MAKE SURE EVERY SCHOOL THAT NEEDS A NURSE GETS ONE. AND THIS YEAR WE WILL PASS IT.

AND WE WILL ALSO PASS A LEGISLATIVE PACKAGE TO ADDRESS THE PLAGUE OF GUN VIOLENCE IN THIS CITY.

RARELY A DAY GOES BY IN NEW YORK WHEN WE ARE NOT REMINDED OF THE DEVASTATING EFFECTS OF GUNS. UNFORTUNATELY, THE ADMINISTRATION IN WASHINGTON HAS BECOME A HAVEN FOR GUN ZEALOTS AND GUN MANUFACTURERS. THE FIRST GROUP PROVIDES VOTES; THE SECOND CAMPAIGN DOLLARS. AND SO OUR PRESIDENT, HIS ATTORNEY GENERAL AND CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS SUPPORT GUN POLICIES FOUNDED ON OBSESSION AND GREED.

AND THESE POLICIES DO REAL HARM TO NEW YORK'S NEIGHBORHOODS AND TO OUR CHILDREN. I APPLAUD MAYOR BLOOMBERG FOR STANDING UP AGAINST THESE POLICIES AND AGAINST IMMUNITY FOR IRRESPONSIBLE GUN MANUFACTURERS AND DEALERS. THIS YEAR THE COUNCIL WILL PASS LEGISLATION TO TAKE ON THE GUN LOBBY. COUNCIL MEMBER SANDERS' BILL, FOR EXAMPLE, WILL ALLOW THE NYPD TO TRACE AMMUNITION PURCHASES BACK TO GUN OFFENDERS. IT IS A COMMON SENSE BILL TO ASSIST LAW ENFORCEMENT IN THE FIGHT AGAINST GUN VIOLENCE. AND THIS YEAR WE WILL PASS IT.

AND WE WILL ALSO PASS BILLS TO LIMIT GUN PURCHASES TO ONE PER NINETY-DAY PERIOD AND TO TRACE ALL FIREARMS THAT COME INTO THE POSSESSION OF THE NYPD. WHILE HEALTH AND SAFETY ARE THE OVERRIDING PRINCIPLE OF GOVERNMENT, WE KNOW FROM EXPERIENCE THAT NEW YORK ONLY THRIVES WHEN THE DAY-TO-DAY QUALITY OF LIFE OF EVERY CITIZEN IS PROTECTED.

MAINTAINING CLEAN SIDEWALKS, FOR EXAMPLE, IS AN ESSENTIAL QUALITY OF LIFE GOAL. NO ONE WANTS TO LIVE ON A LITTER-STREWN BLOCK. WE SHOULD KEEP OUR CITY AND OUR NEIGHBORHOODS CLEAN.

BUT HOW CAN THE CITY EXPECT HOMEOWNERS TO KEEP THEIR SIDEWALKS FREE OF LITTER EVEN WHEN THEY ARE AWAY AT WORK, IN SYNAGOGUE, AT CHURCH, TEMPLE OR MOSQUE? NEW YORK IS NOT DISNEY WORLD. LITTER DOES NOT MAGICALLY DISAPPEAR AS SOON AS IT FALLS TO THE GROUND.

WE CAN AFFORD TO BE BOTH CLEAN AND REASONABLE. AND COUNCIL MEMBER FELDER HAS LEGISLATION THAT DOES JUST THAT. THE "FAIR FINES" BILL REQUIRES THE DEPARTMENT OF SANITATION TO EXTEND THE SAME COURTESY TO HOMEOWNERS AS THEY DO TO BUSINESSES. IT PROHIBITS THEM FROM ISSUING FINES EXCEPT DURING A PREDICTABLE SCHEDULE THAT HOMEOWNERS CAN KNOW AND COMPLY WITH. AND THIS YEAR THE COUNCIL WILL PASS IT.

NOISE IS ANOTHER SERIOUS QUALITY OF LIFE PROBLEM. NEW YORK SHOULD ALWAYS BE THE CITY THAT NEVER SLEEPS, BUT EVERYONE DESERVES A LITTLE SHUT-EYE. THIS COUNCIL IS DETERMINED TO ADDRESS THE PROBLEM OF EXCESSIVE NOISE. TOMORROW, COUNCIL MEMBER YASSKY WILL INTRODUCE A BILL TO ALLOW BAR OWNERS TO PAY UNIFORMED POLICE OFFICERS SO THEY CAN STOP ROWDY BEHAVIOR OUTSIDE THEIR ESTABLISHMENTS. THAT'S WHAT THEY DO AT YANKEE STADIUM, AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN, AND IN HOUSTON AND IN MIAMI. AND THAT'S WHAT WEÕLL DO IN NEIGHBORHOODS THAT NEED IT WHEN WE PASS THE PAID DETAIL BILL THIS YEAR. A LEGISLATIVE AGENDA THAT PUTS EVERY NEW YORKER FIRST ISN'T COMPLETE WITHOUT STANDING UP FOR THE CAUSE OF ECONOMIC JUSTICE.

WE PASSED THE STRONGEST PREDATORY LENDING LAW IN THE COUNTRY. WE PASSED A BILL TO PROTECT NEW YORKERS FROM "RAPID RIP OFF" LOANS. AND THIS YEAR WE WILL PASS COUNCIL MEMBER COMRIE'S PAY DAY LOAN BILL TO PREVENT UNSCRUPULOUS CHECK-CASHING BUSINESSES FROM CHARGING RIDICULOUS HIDDEN FEES AND INTEREST RATES.

OUR TOP LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES IN 2004 WILL BE TO PROTECT THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF NEW YORKERS AND PROTECT OUR QUALITY OF LIFE.

BUT OUR TOP PRIORITY... THE ONE GOAL THAT GUIDES US IN EVERYTHING WE DO IN THIS CHAMBER... IS TO SECURE THE FUTURE OF OUR CHILDREN. AND NOTHING IS MORE IMPORTANT TO THAT MISSION THAN BUILDING SCHOOLS WHERE CHILDREN CAN LEARN AND TEACHERS CAN TEACH.

WE CANNOT AFFORD TO SHORTCHANGE OUR CHILDREN'S EDUCATION. NEW YORKERS UNDERSTAND THAT OUR CITY'S TOMORROW DEPENDS ON THE EDUCATION WE PROVIDE OUR CHILDREN TODAY.

FOR YEARS, OUR SCHOOLS HAVE BEEN UNDERFUNDED AND OVERCROWDED. MANY ARE ILL-EQUIPPED; SOME ARE DANGEROUS. THROUGH IT ALL, IN A DIFFICULT ENVIRONMENT, UNDER TRYING CIRCUMSTANCES, FOR LOWER PAY THAN THEIR PEERS IN THE SUBURBS, OUR TEACHERS HAVE STAYED FOCUSED AND DEVOTED TO THE JOB OF EDUCATING OUR CHILDREN.

NEW YORK CITY SCHOOL TEACHERS STAND UP FOR OUR KIDS EVERY DAY. AND I WANT THEM TO KNOW THAT THE CITY COUNCIL OF NEW YORK STANDS UP FOR CITY SCHOOL TEACHERS.

ONE THING WE CAN DO TO STAND UP FOR TEACHERS IS TO RECOGNIZE THAT THEY ARE PROFESSIONALS WHO POUR MORE THAN JUST THEIR HEARTS INTO THEIR JOBS. THEY SPEND HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS EVERY YEAR OUT OF THEIR OWN POCKETS TO GIVE THEIR KIDS THE SUPPLIES THAT THEY NEED. THE "TEACHER'S CHOICE" PROGRAM GIVES $200 TO EVERY TEACHER FOR CLASSROOM SUPPLIES. BUT YEAR AFTER YEAR THE MAYOR HAS CUT THIS COMMON SENSE WAY TO RECOGNIZE THE SACRIFICES THAT TEACHERS MAKE. THIS COUNCIL WILL RESTORE "TEACHER'S CHOICE" THIS YEAR.WHILE OUR TEACHERS ARE BATTLING IN THE TRENCHES, AND PARENTS ARE FIGHTING FOR THEIR CHILDRENÕS FUTURES, WE STILL HAVE A LONG WAY TO GO BEFORE OUR KIDS HAVE THE QUALITY SCHOOLS THEY DESERVE.

SCHOOL SAFETY IS PERHAPS THE GRAVEST ISSUE OF ALL. BECAUSE TEACHERS CANNOT TEACH, AND CHILDREN CANNOT LEARN, IN SCHOOLS WHERE INTIMIDATION AND FEAR RULE THE HALLWAYS.

I APPLAUD THE MAYOR'S RECENT INITIATIVE TO IMPOSE DISCIPLINE AND ORDER AT SOME OF THE CITY'S MOST DANGEROUS SCHOOLS. BUT WE NEED TO MAKE SURE EVERY SCHOOL IS SAFE. AND WE MUST PROVIDE PARENTS, SCHOOL AUTHORITIES AND THE POLICE WITH THE TOOLS TO ADDRESS VIOLENCE AND, BETTER STILL, PREVENT IT.

THAT'S WHY IN THIS COUNCIL WE WILL PASS "SCHOOLSTAT" LEGISLATION INTRODUCED BY COUNCIL MEMBER VALLONE THAT WILL REQUIRE THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND THE NYPD TO SHARE DATA ON SCHOOL VIOLENCE - AND SHARE IT WITH THE PUBLIC. RIGHT NOW, THE CITY LACKS A CENTRALIZED SYSTEM FOR REPORTING VIOLENCE IN SCHOOLS. INSTEAD, SEPARATE AGENCIES MAKE SEPARATE REPORTS. AND PARENTS ARE LEFT IN THE DARK. RIGHT NOW PARENTS CAN GO ON-LINE AND FIND OUT WHAT THEIR CHILDREN ARE HAVING FOR LUNCH BUT THEY CANÕT FIND OUT HOW MANY INCIDENTS OF VIOLENCE HAVE OCCURRED AT THEIR CHILDRENÕS SCHOOLS. PARENTS DESERVE TO KNOW.AND WE WILL PASS LEGISLATION FROM COUNCIL MEMBER VANN REQUIRING THE NYPD AND THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION TO REPORT ON HOW MANY SCHOOL SAFETY OFFICERS ARE NEEDED IN ALL OF OUR 1,200 SCHOOLS. IT'S GOOD THE MAYOR HAS PUT MORE SAFETY OFFICERS IN 12 SCHOOLS, BUT NEW YORK'S PARENTS NEED TO KNOW HOW MANY OFFICERS IT WILL TAKE TO MAKE SURE EVERY SCHOOL IS SAFE. AND WE NEED TO PUT THOSE SAFETY AGENTS IN OUR SCHOOLS.

WE WILL ALSO FIGHT TO INCLUDE IN THE CAPITAL BUDGET RESOURCES TO INSTALL INTERCOMS, METAL DETECTORS AND OTHER SAFETY TECHNOLOGY IN EVERY SCHOOL.

AND SINCE AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION IS WORTH A POUND OF CURE, THE COUNCIL WILL EXTEND SCHOOL VIOLENCE PREVENTION PROGRAMS. THESE PROGRAMS CAN AND DO WORK. FOR EXAMPLE, THE COUNCIL FOR UNITY ADMINISTERS A PROGRAM THAT HAS HELPED MANY OF OUR KIDS REJECT VIOLENCE AND EMBRACE STRONGER SCHOOLS AND STRONGER COMMUNITIES. I AM VERY PLEASED TO HAVE SOME OF THOSE YOUNG PEOPLE HERE TODAY AND I ASK EVERYONE TO JOIN ME IN A ROUND OF APPLAUSE FOR THEM NOW.

WE WILL STAND UP FOR SCHOOLS THAT ARE SAFE... AND WE WILL STAND UP FOR SCHOOLS THAT GIVE OUR KIDS THE BASIC TOOLS THEY NEED TO LEARN AND ACHIEVE. LAST FALL, THE COUNCIL RELEASED ITS REPORT ON THE PHYSICAL DECAY OF NEW YORK'S PUBLIC SCHOOLS. IT WAS A GRIM AND DISTURBING DOCUMENT. LESS THAN THREE PERCENT OF OUR SCHOOLS ARE IN A STATE OF GOOD REPAIR. NEARLY THREE-QUARTERS OF NEW YORK CITY HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS ATTEND OVERCROWDED SCHOOLS. AND NEARLY 40 PERCENT OF ELEMENTARY AND MIDDLE-SCHOOLS ARE OVERCROWDED AS WELL.

THINK ABOUT THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SUCCESSFUL SUBURBAN SCHOOLS AND UNSUCCESSFUL URBAN SCHOOLS. THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE WHEN YOU WALK INTO A SUBURBAN SCHOOL IS THAT IT'S NICE. IT HAS LIGHTING. IT HAS A SEAT FOR EVERY CHILD. IT HAS AN ART ROOM, A MUSIC ROOM, A SCIENCE LAB, A GYM WHERE KIDS CAN EXERCISE. IT HAS THE BASIC TOOLS THAT KIDS NEED TO ACHIEVE. AND WHAT THAT DOES IS SEND EVERY CHILD IN THAT SCHOOL, EVERY PARENT IN THAT NEIGHBORHOOD, AND EVERY TEACHER WHO WORKS THERE A VERY SIMPLE MESSAGE. WE CARE ENOUGH ABOUT YOUR EDUCATION TO GIVE YOU THE MOST BASIC RESOURCES NEEDED FOR SUCCESS.

IN NEW YORK CITY WE SEND THE EXACT OPPOSITE MESSAGE EVERY DAY. WE ASK KIDS TO PASS SCIENCE REGENTS TESTS - WE DON'T GIVE THEM SCIENCE LABS. WE ASK KIDS TO BECOME TRULY LITERATE - WE DENY THEM THE ARTS AND MUSIC PROGRAMS THAT STUDY AFTER STUDY SHOW IMPROVE LITERACY. WE ASK KIDS TO MEET PHYSICAL EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS Š WE DON'T GIVE THEM GYMS OR PLAYGROUNDS TO EXERCISE IN. WE SEND A POWERFUL MESSAGE EVERY DAY TO KIDS IN OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS THAT WE ARE NOT SERIOUS ENOUGH ABOUT YOUR EDUCATION TO GIVE YOU THE TOOLS YOU NEED TO SUCCEED.

WE HAVE TO CHANGE THAT. WE HAVE TO CHANGE IT PERMANENTLY BY MAKING SURE THAT WE HAVE A FIVE YEAR CAPITAL PLAN THIS YEAR THAT ACTUALLY PROVIDES EVERY STUDENT WITH A SEAT IN A CLASSROOM THAT IS NOT CRUMBLING AND DOESN'T LEAK. WITH A MUSIC ROOM, AN ART ROOM, A SCIENCE LAB AND A GYM OR PLAYGROUND THEY NEED TO EXERCISE IN.

TO ACCOMPLISH THAT GOAL WE WILL NEED TO FIGHT FOR FUNDING IN ALBANY. THE MAYOR RECOGNIZES THAT WE NEED THEIR HELP TO SOLVE THIS CRISIS... BUT WE ARE NOT GOING TO GET IT BY ASKING NICELY. WE'RE NOT GOING TO GET IT BY JUST SAYING "PLEASE."

THE GOVERNOR HAS PROVED OVER AND OVER AGAIN THAT HE DOESN'T CARE ABOUT THE FUTURE OF NEW YORK CITY'S SCHOOL CHILDREN. HE SPENT YEARS ARGUING IN COURT THAT AN EIGHTH GRADE EDUCATION WAS ALL THEY DESERVE.

WE HAVE TO GO UP AND FIGHT FOR THIS FUNDING. IF THE MAYOR WILL STAND WITH US AND FIGHT, I WILL TRAVEL WITH HIM TO ALBANY - EVERY WEEK IF NECESSARY - TO DEMAND THAT OUR CHILDREN GET THEIR DUE.

WE MUST RAISE OUR VOICES. WE MUST STAND UP FOR WHAT WE ALL KNOW IS RIGHT. AND WE MUST NOT BE DENIED.

BUT IN THE END, WE WILL NOT BE ABLE TO FIX OUR SCHOOLS, WE WILL NOT BE ABLE TO PROVIDE HEALTH CARE AND PROTECT THE SAFETY OF NEW YORKERS AND BUILD THE FOUNDATIONS FOR PROSPERITY IN THIS NEW CENTURY UNLESS WE ACHIEVE A RADICAL TRANSFORMATION OF OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE STATE AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENTS.

IN THE COMING MONTHS WE WILL CONTINUE TO STAND UP FOR OUR CITY'S FAIR SHARE. IN THE YEAR 2004 OUR CITY IS IN A TIGHT SPOT - WE ARE STUCK BETWEEN TWO IRRESPONSIBLE ADMINISTRATIONS IN ALBANY AND WASHINGTON WHOSE TREATMENT OF THIS CITY VEERS BETWEEN ABUSE AND NEGLECT.

THESE ADMINISTRATIONS PRODUCE VOLUMES OF WORDS ABOUT EDUCATION AND SCHOOLS WHERE NO CHILD IS LEFT BEHIND. THEY HERALD THE BRAVERY OF NEW YORKERS AND THE INDOMITABLE SPIRIT OF OUR CITY. BUT AFTER THE RHETORIC HAS DRIFTED TO THE CLOUDS, HERE ON THE GROUND WE ARE LEFT WITH A RECORD OF OFFICIAL IRRESPONSIBILITY AND MORAL FAILURE ON A VAST AND UNFORGIVABLE SCALE.

NEW YORK CITY CONTINUES TO BE SHORTCHANGED BY BOTH THE STATE AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND IT'S OUR CHILDREN WHO PAY THE HIGHEST PRICE FOR THIS PERENNIAL SCAM.

EACH YEAR NEW YORK CITY SENDS WASHINGTON $6.5 BILLION MORE THAN WE GET BACK. WE SEND ALBANY $3.5 BILLION MORE THAN WE GET BACK. IN BOOM TIMES, THIS GROSS IMBALANCE MAKES US LESS COMPETITIVE. IN DIFFICULT TIMES, IT UNDERMINES NOT ONLY OUR ECONOMY AND OUR CITY BUDGET BUT OUR ABILITY TO PROVIDE OPPORTUNITY TO EVERY NEW YORKER. AT ALL TIMES, IT COSTS OUR CITY JOBS, SERVICES AND PROSPERITY.

THIS INEQUITY FORCES NEW YORK CITY TO COMPETE WITH BOTH HANDS TIED BEHIND ITS BACK.

LET ME GIVE YOU JUST ONE EXAMPLE: MEDICAID. EVERYWHERE ELSE IN THE COUNTRY, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND THE STATES PICK UP THE COST OF MEDICAID FOR THEIR CITIES. BUT NEW YORK IS DIFFERENT. HERE WE HAVE TO PAY A BILL THAT BY ITSELF CONSUMES NEARLY 80 PERCENT OF OUR PERSONAL INCOME TAX AND SPIRITS AWAY $4 BILLION OF OUR PEOPLE'S HARD-EARNED MONEY. SO BEFORE WE PAY FOR POLICE OR FIRE FIGHTERS OR TEACHERS... OR ANY OF THE THINGS CITIES ARE SUPPOSED TO PAY FOR... WE HAVE TO PAY FOR A PROGRAM OVER WHICH WE HAVE NO CONTROL AND WHICH NO OTHER CITY HAS TO PAY.

LET ME GIVE YOU ANOTHER EXAMPLE: SINCE 2001, NEW YORK CITY HAS LOST 85 PERCENT OF THE JOBS IN NEW YORK STATE AND 10 PERCENT OF THE JOBS IN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY. SINCE 2001, THE GOVERNOR HAS ANNOUNCED SEVEN EMPIRE ZONES, LOWER TAX AREAS TO CREATE MORE JOBS. YOU WOULD THINK THAT SINCE WE LOST 85 PERCENT OF THE JOBS IN THE STATE THAT WE WOULD GET SIX EMPIRE ZONES. YOU'D BE WRONG. MAYBE YOUÕD THINK WE'D GET THREE, SINCE THAT'S COMMENSURATE WITH OUR SHARE OF THE POPULATION. YOU'D BE WRONG. WE WERE TOLD TO APPLY FOR ONE. AND WE CHOSE CHINATOWN, WHICH IS ONLY BLOCKS FROM GROUND ZERO, INELIGIBLE FOR MOST FEDERAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS, AND HAS LOST JOBS HAND OVER FIST. AND WHEN THE GOVERNOR ANNOUNCED THE SEVEN EMPIRE ZONES SINCE 2001 FOR THE STATE OF NEW YORK, NEW YORK CITY GOT NONE. NOT ONE.

BUT IT DOESN'T END WITH ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: WE ARE SHORTCHANGED ON EDUCATION FUNDING. WE ARE SHORTCHANGED ON TRANSPORTATION FUNDING. WE ARE EVEN SHORTCHANGED ON ANTI-TERRORISM FUNDING.

I DON'T DOUBT THAT VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY'S HOME STATE OF WYOMING HAS MANY FINE ATTRIBUTES. BUT I DON'T THINK WYOMING NEEDS FIVE TIMES MORE PER CAPITA IN FEDERAL ANTI-TERRORISM FUNDING THAN NEW YORK. YET THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT IT GETS.

WE ARE A CITY OF PATRIOTS. AND NEW YORKERS WILL ALWAYS ANSWER THE CALL OF DUTY. BUT TODAY, NEW YORKERS SHOULDER THE COST OF PROTECTING OUR CITY AND OUR NATION FROM INTERNATIONAL THREATS WHILE REPUBLICANS IN WASHINGTON TURN HOMELAND SECURITY INTO YET ANOTHER PORK BARREL PROJECT FOR THEIR HOME STATES.

WE HAVE HAD ENOUGH. THIS SUMMER, WHEN THE REPUBLICAN CONVENTION COMES TO NEW YORK, WE WILL WELCOME THEM, THROW THEM A PARTY AND TREAT THEM TO ALL THAT NEW YORK CITY HAS TO OFFER.

BUT I HOPE NEW YORKERS WILL ALSO STAND AS ONE IN TELLING PRESIDENT BUSH, KARL ROVE AND OTHER REPUBLICAN DECISION MAKERS THAT THEIR USE OF NEW YORK CITY AS A PIGGY BANK FOR THEIR FAVORED STATES AND CAUSES MUST END. AND I HOPE ALL NEW YORKERS, REGARDLESS OF PARTY AFFILIATION, WILL HELP US DELIVER THAT MESSAGE LOUD AND CLEAR AND OFTEN.

LIKE THE CITY WE REPRESENT, THIS COUNCIL HAS MANY CHALLENGES BEFORE IT. BUT I AM CONFIDENT THAT WE WILL CONTINUE TO STAND UP FOR WHATÕS RIGHT, AND FOR ALL NEW YORKERS. AND I KNOW OUR CITY WILL THRIVE. WE ARE MANY INDIVIDUALS. BUT WE ARE ONE PEOPLE. MANY NEIGHBORHOODS, BUT ONE CITY. AND IN OUR UNITY OF PURPOSE AND VISION IS A STRENGTH THAT CARRIES US THROUGH ADVERSITY AND INTO THE FUTURE.

THE RECENT PAST HAS BEEN TRYING. OUR CITY HAS WORKED HARD AND TOGETHER WE HAVE FOUGHT OUR WAY BACK TO A POSITION OF CONFIDENCE AND STRENGTH. BUT WE CANNOT AFFORD TO REST NOW. WE CANNOT AFFORD TO SIT DOWN WHEN THE FUTURE OF NEW YORK CITY IS STILL VERY MUCH AT STAKE.

NOW, MY FRIENDS, IS THE TIME FOR ALL NEW YORKERS TO STAND UP AND FIGHT FOR OUR FUTURE... TOGETHER.