The Remarks of Speaker Silver

Regarding MTA Agreement

Red Room
Tuesday, May 5, 2009

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I have said from the beginning of this debate that we need a bill that saves the fare, stops service cuts and provides a stable long term funding stream for an MTA capital plan.

Tonight, I believe we have one.

I have said from the beginning that the Assembly was willing to consider any plan that provides a stable, long term funding stream for mass transit and apportions the burden equitably among everyone who has a stake in the MTA's operations and future.

This bill I believe does that.

Tomorrow the Assembly will hope to take up this legislation that will save the fare, stop service cuts from going into effect and fund the first two years of a core capital plan.

I am especially pleased we were able to reach an agreement that preserves more than $6 billion in funding for an MTA capital plan by the state of New York. This money will fund that two year core capital plan and allow us to continue to invest in the physical infrastructure of the system.

As I have said repeatedly, during the 1970's fiscal crisis we stopped investing in the MTA and it was a horrible mistake that had a devastating impact on the city, its suburbs and on the entire economy of the state.

And as bad as this crisis is, I have insisted throughout this debate right up until this evening that we just can not afford to make that mistake again.

Tonight we have chosen the better path. In the face of an economic crisis the likes of which none of us have ever seen in our lifetime, through a combination of courage and compromise we have reached an agreement that will not only save the fare and stop the cuts, but it will also preserve our investment in the future of mass transit and the entire region.

A safe, efficient and dependable mass transit system is critical to the region's economic health and a major factor in our ability to attract and retain jobs. We have rescued this system from the brink of the abyss. I want to thank Governor Paterson and Senator Smith for their leadership through many days and many nights of negotiations.

I also especially want to thank Governor Paterson for one of the first acts he took as Governor and that is to turn and look at someone who knew the system. One of his first acts was to appoint Dick Ravitch to chair a commission to study the MTA and its finances.

As I said in December, when Richard Ravitch speaks, New York should listen.

Thirty years ago he presented a plan that rescued a mass transit system from the brink of collapse.

I salute the Governor for calling upon him again to examine the system, to come back with a report, to bring us to the point where he sounded the alarm again and all New Yorkers owe Dick Ravitch and Governor Paterson a tremendous debt of gratitude.

To Dick Ravitch, somewhere out there in New York, I want to say thank you on behalf of all of us. To Governor Paterson, I once again want to thank you for the great leadership you have provided in difficult circumstances, in difficult economic times to bring this about.