Archive for May, 2009

NY Dems Applaud President Obama’s Nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor

May 26, 2009

NEW YORK, NY – New York State Democratic Committee Chair June O’Neill today issued the followed statement commending President Obama’s nomination of New Yorker, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, to serve on the United States Supreme Court:

“Today, President Obama announced Judge Sonia Sotomayor as his nominee to replace Justice David Souter.  A native New Yorker who was recommended for the position by Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, Judge Sotomayor rose from her humble beginnings to achieve great academic and professional success – earning her appointment to serve in federal district court when she was still in her 30s.

Judge Sotomayor has made history before by being the first Hispanic federal justice in New York and as the first Hispanic woman to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.  Now, she’s making history again as the first Latina nominated to serve on the United States Supreme Court.

Judge Sotomayor is known for her determination, commitment to public service and her ability to issue decisions that hold both factual details and legal doctrines in equal measure. In March, Governor Paterson and First Lady Michelle Paige Paterson honored Judge Sotomayor at the sixth annual Women of Excellence Awards celebration. Governor Paterson and New Yorkers across the State have long recognized what the rest of the country gets to see today – Judge Sotomayor is a true leader whose experience in the courtroom and in private practice makes her uniquely qualified for this position.

Judge Sotomayor’s nomination is one that we can all be proud of.”

More information on the award presented to Judge Sotomayor by Governor Paterson is available here: http://www.state.ny.us/governor/press/press_0324095.html.

NY Dems Laud Obama Administration’s New National Fuel Efficiency Standards for Cars

May 20, 2009

New Standards Set First Ever Greenhouse Gas Pollution Standards for Cars and Provide More Certainty to Auto Industry

[NEW YORK, NY] – The Obama Administration announced today a new national standard for fuel efficiency for cars and light trucks and the first ever greenhouse gas pollution standards for cars. The new standard will set a limit for both tailpipe emissions and fuel economy requirements. The new rule will resolve an on-going conflict between state governments and the auto industry – who have been locked in a costly legal battle over states’ efforts to adopt more stringent standards than the current federal standards – by creating more protective requirements and setting a reliable and achievable timeline on which the new national standard will be implemented. The standards will make a great impact here in New York, where Governor Paterson has already taken steps to enhance New York’s commitment to the environment and to creating new clean energy jobs.

By 2016, the American fleet of cars and light trucks will be almost 40 percent cleaner and more fuel-efficient than it is today, with an average of 35 miles per gallon. The new rules, which will be written jointly by the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency, will begin in model year 2012. The program is projected to save 1.8 billion barrels of oil and will achieve greenhouse gas reductions equivalent of taking 177 million cars off the road.

June O’Neill, New York State Democratic Committee Chair, issued the following statement after the announcement at the White House:

“Foreign and domestic auto industry executives, state governors, union leaders and other officials joined President Obama today to announce a new national standard that for the first time ever combines fuel efficiency requirements with limits on greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.

“Because of this new program, by 2016, the American fleet will be remarkably cleaner and more efficient. The Obama Administration’s new plan will go a long way toward reducing our dependence on foreign oil, lowering energy costs for New York families at the pump, and reducing harmful air pollution and global warming emissions from our cars’ tailpipes.

“It’s no secret that the American auto industry is fighting for its survival. Today’s announcement marks an historic agreement between the Administration, the states and the very companies who once vehemently opposed increases in fuel efficiency and downplayed or flat-out ignored the danger of greenhouse gas emissions.

“Considering the failure of the last administration to take any action to address climate change or to even identify carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions as dangerous, this new standard is a sea change in public policy. It will breathe new life into the industry by creating a strong, reliable market for fuel efficient cars, will drive technological innovation, and as gas prices rise, greater fuel efficiency will save New Yorkers money. In this single action, President Obama has reiterated his commitment to addressing the climate crisis and reviving America’s auto industry by ensuring that the next generation of  clean, efficient vehicles is manufactured right here in the United States.

“Governor Paterson has also been taking steps here in New York to make our state more environmentally sound and create new clean energy jobs. In early May, the Governor announced several environmental initiatives including the creation the New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology Consortium (known as NY BEST) –  the first of its kind research and development initiative which will help advance the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle; a commitment by 30 communities across the State to take the Climate Smart Communities Pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; a proposal, in partnership with Congressman Steve Israel to develop a “Smart Energy Corridor” on Long Island; and plans, along with the New York Power Authority, for the largest solar photovoltaic project in New York to help our state meet its energy needs.

“We have a long way to go to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, halt the deleterious effects of climate change, and fully restore the American auto industry. But today’s announcement is an important step forward. For the second time in as many weeks, today’s news – as was the historic agreement reached between the Administration and health care industry leaders last week – is a testament to President Obama’s visionary leadership and his outstanding ability to bring people together to develop pragmatic solutions to address our most serious challenges.”

NY Dems: President Obama and Governor Paterson’s Commitment to Health Care Reform will Benefit New York’s Working Families

May 14, 2009

(NEW YORK, NY) –  Today, key stakeholders in health care reform joined President Obama at the White House to announce their commitment to achieving a sharp reduction in the nation’s health care costs.  Their plans to prioritize preventative care, manage chronic illnesses, curtail unnecessary tests and procedures, standardize insurance claim forms and use electronic medical records could save the nation 1.5 percent a year, or $2 trillion over the next 10 years. This, coupled with Governor Paterson’s efforts in New York, has put us on the path to making significant changes that will benefit New Yorkers across the state.

Six health care industry groups including executives of the Advanced Medical Technology Association, a lobby for medical device manufacturers; the American Hospital Association; the American Medical Association; the America’s Health Insurance Plans, a trade group for insurers; the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America; and the Service Employees International Union met with the President today and presented him a letter pledging to pursue efforts like those outlined above to make significant costs savings in the health care system over the next ten years.  These groups represent a “strange bedfellows” coalition of competing interests which have concluded that health care costs are rising at an unsustainable rate and most be curtailed.

June O’Neill, New York State Democratic Committee Chair, issued the following statement after the announcement at the White House:

“Health care industry leaders joined President Obama today to announce their commitment to working with the Administration to sharply reduce national health care spending.  By 2014, a family of four could save $2,500 a year.  This will provide much-needed relief for working families in New York who are struggling to make ends meet.

The President’s announcement today with these ‘strange bedfellows’ is nothing short of historic and will provide the momentum we need to get broader health care reform passed by Congress this year.  Reforming health care is the key to restoring financial stability and securing our fiscal future.

We know that there is much more to be done to reform our health care system, but today’s announcement is an important step toward comprehensive reform. We applaud President Obama for the work that he has done thus far and for his on-going commitment to making the real changes we need.  President Obama has demonstrated that he has the ability to bring people together and provide the leadership our country needs to make health care reform a reality.

Here at home, Governor Paterson has also been working to make significant changes to our health care system so that New Yorkers can receive the care they deserve.  In January, the Governor announced plans for legislation to expand health insurance coverage for family members up to the age of 29.  He also recently announced that the state will provide $175 million in new funding to further the restructuring of our health care system and his budget included major reforms that will create record savings for tax payers.

The Governor’s continued work to improve our health care system on a local level, combined with the President’s on-going efforts to make major reforms, is the type of proactive and positive change we need.

The New York State Democratic Committee looks forward to working with Governor Paterson, President Obama and our Congressional leaders to harness the growing momentum for reform and chart a course toward a patient-centered health care system that reduces costs, preserves individual choice and assures quality affordable care for every New Yorker.  As the President has said time and time again, reform is not a luxury that can be postponed, but a necessity that cannot wait.”

New York Dems Applaud President Obama’s New Proposals to Help Unemployed New Yorkers

May 14, 2009

Proposals will increase access to education, training and financial aid

(NEW YORK, NY)  – Today, President Obama announced new proposals that will help more unemployed workers attend community college and allow workers to continue receiving unemployment benefits while they are enrolled in college and/or training programs.  New York State Democratic Committee Chair June O’Neill, issued the following statement on the President’s program:

“Today President Obama announced new plans to give thousands of unemployed Americans in New York and around the country an extra hand by empowering them to learn new skills and get ahead in their careers.  The Obama Administration will work with our state’s leaders to make sure that New Yorkers don’t have to choose between furthering their education and staying afloat.

Under the President’s program, New Yorkers who have lost their jobs will now be eligible to receive federal financial aid – so they can stay enrolled in school despite losing their incomes – or have the opportunity to go back to school without losing their unemployment benefits. And the Federal Pell Grant program will soon provide up to $5,350 for educational costs at community colleges, colleges and universities, and many trade and technical schools.

We know that someone who doesn’t have a college degree is more than twice as likely to be unemployed as someone who does.  The Obama Administration’s plans to expand educational opportunities will help unemployed New Yorkers learn the skills they need to not just get through these hard times, but to be more competitive once our economy recovers.

President Obama thinks it’s important to help workers here in New York and across the nation gain access to higher education, acquire more skills and become more competitive.  His program will also make sure that a period of unemployment is no longer just a time to look for a new job, but a time to prepare for a better job. The President’s proposals, coupled with Governor Paterson’s success in the state to reduce spending and create new job opportunities for New Yorkers, will help build a foundation for strong economic growth.”