Keeping New York City Moving Forward
The start of summer always brings a flurry of activity as we close out the school year, finalize the City’s budget, and wrap up the legislative session in Albany. This year, I am happy to report that we’ve ended on a high note on all three counts. And because of the great progress we’ve made over the first half of this year, many of the long-term goals we set at the beginning of the Administration are now within our reach.
Take, for example, the improvements to our public schools. The test scores released by the State recently showed that New York City students are making big strides in math and reading. In fact, at virtually every grade level, the one-year gains posted by New York City students were bigger than the gains posted by students in the rest of the State—putting our schools on par with many suburban districts. Black and Hispanic students helped lead the way, making enormous progress over the past year in narrowing the racial achievement gap that has existed for far too long.
Recently we began focusing more energy and attention on middle-school grades, where traditionally students have struggled. This year, they too posted improvements in reading, as well as gains in math that are just off the charts. It should make us all feel proud that thousands more children will leave school this year with the skills they need to succeed and the confidence to pursue their dreams.
Improving public education has always been a top priority, and I think that the new City budget that we agreed to with the City Council—which includes hundreds of millions of dollars more for local schools—reflects that. Our tax revenues are down and our economy has suffered some pretty serious blows. That’s why the new budget keeps overall spending virtually flat. Families are tightening their budgets; government has a responsibility to do that as well. At the same time, we’re continuing to look ahead to the city’s future and make critical investments in areas—like education, infrastructure and public safety—that are essential to our quality of life.
We also got great news from Albany where State legislators passed major pieces of our legislative agenda. For example, the State has agreed to let us build a marine transfer station for recyclable materials at the Gansevoort Peninsula on Manhattan’s West Side. It’s a key part of our environmentally and economically sound Solid Waste Management Plan. The State passed other parts of our green agenda too, including tax abatements for green roofs and the construction of solar panels, which will help clean our air and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We also won passage of new laws that strengthen background checks for gun purchases that give our social workers the tools they need to prevent child abuse and that expand access to flu shots and other immunizations. Together these steps will help ensure a safer and healthier New York City.
Even though the national economy is experiencing tough times, we’re doing everything we can to keep New York City—our local economy, our environment, our public schools, and our quality of life—moving forward.#