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NEW YORK — “Last week was a big week for New York City in Albany. Two pieces of legislation that we have vigorously championed were passed by both houses of the State Legislature. Once signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo, they will pave the way for a brighter, stronger future for New York City and the entire state. And let me add that the Governor deserves enormous credit for these historic measures, which even a few years ago seemed like they would not come to pass.
“The first is a landmark pension reform package that represents a huge win for the taxpayers of New York – and diffuses a potential fiscal disaster. In our state’s pension system, we were facing a ticking time bomb. In New York City alone, pension costs have increased $6.5 billion dollars in the past 10 years. To cover those skyrocketing costs, we’ve had to cut spending in nearly every other area of government. And we aren’t alone: pension costs have grown so big they are cutting into the ability of cities and counties around the state to deliver core services and still balance their budgets. That’s why I established a coalition of mayors and county executives – from both parties, and from every region in the state – to support Governor Cuomo’s pension reform plan.
“I’m glad to say that the leaders and members of the State Legislature heard us. They heard the people, too. They’ve agreed on responsible pension reforms that will protect City workers and taxpayers. In fact, this historic agreement will save New York City $21 billion over the next 30 years. That’s money that now can go instead towards our schools, parks and libraries, or paying for police and fire protection, or creating jobs, or lowering taxes. And this reform will be accomplished without affecting the retirement benefits for any existing retirees or public employee. They will still receive the pensions they’ve been promised, and future workers will still continue to have generous pensions as well – but these will be pensions that taxpayers can actually afford.
“The second major piece of legislation that Albany passed last week is a bill that expands the State’s DNA database. With the advent of forensic DNA testing, DNA samples can yield valuable clues, help detectives solve crimes, and help defense attorneys prevent wrongful convictions. In fact, DNA is akin to what fingerprinting was a century ago: a cutting-edge tool that is much more definitive than eyewitness accounts. So it’s essential that we have access to its full potential. That’s why six years ago, I helped lead the charge for a new State law to expand DNA collection to more types of crimes – and it’s why we strongly supported Governor Coumo’s efforts to expand the law even further. From now on, DNA samples will be taken from all criminals convicted of felonies as well as virtually all misdemeanors. Since many people who commit these kinds of crimes are often repeat offenders, their profiles will now be in the State’s DNA database, making it much easier to crack old cases and solve new ones. And that will help us keep the innocent out of jail, and take the guilty off our streets.
“I want to thank the Governor – and also Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver and the entire Legislature – for taking on these challenges. It’s vital that we do everything possible to keep New York City a place where people want to live, work, and visit. Giving law enforcement the tools they need to keep our streets safe is an important part of that – and so too is giving our government the ability to continue investing in the future. That’s what these new bills achieve, ensuring the best days for New York are still ahead.
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