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TPD 2014 Democratic Convention
5-21-14

Good morning New York Democrats!

Are you happy?

Well I’m happy, too. That’s because I stand before you as the 54th Comptroller of this great
state.

And with your help, there won’t be a 55th Comptroller for many years to come.

I’m happy because 3 great Democrats placed my name in nomination. Thank you Hon. Ruben
Diaz, Jr., Hon. Dorothy Goosby, and Diane Dwire.

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Ninety-six years ago, a similar gathering nominated the legendary Al Smith to be Governor. He
was nicknamed the “Happy Warrior”.

I’m proud to be your Happy Warrior for the 2014 campaign.

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It’s been an extraordinary and humbling experience for me to serve our state.

My path to this moment began just a few miles from this hall.

My story is not too different than yours. I’m the grandson of immigrants who came to this
country with not much more than their hopes and their faith.

They put their roots down in a place called Brooklyn, New York. I grew up here on Long Island.
But I have special childhood memories of traveling to my great grandmother’s home on Alabama
Avenue in East New York and hearing the stories of my family’s history.

Our version of the American Dream was born in Brooklyn!

My parents graduated from Nassau County public schools and married after my Father’s service
in World War II.

My dad was a cable splicer for the phone company. He was also a shop steward in the
Communications Workers of America. I will never forget the difference growing up in a union
household meant to my family’s economic security.

My mom was trained as a secretary and when she reentered the workforce, she took civil service
exams and worked as a clerk at the county police department, represented by CSEA.
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And like our dedicated public employees of today, she took great pride in her work.

My parents worked with their hands. And their greatest hope was to have their children go to
college. Their sweat and sacrifice made that goal possible for my brother and me.

My parents, just like so many of the families I’ve met in my travels across New York State, led
by example.

They taught me the value of hard work, of family loyalty, the importance of being a good
neighbor and of giving back to the community.

Leaning on those core values, they achieved their American Dream—a modest house, a healthy
family, good friends and even some money saved for retirement.

These same values have guided me my entire life:

Do good work.

Help your community.

Try to make a positive difference in the world.

And, if possible, do it with a smile.

These values provided me the spark to seek election and to win a seat on our local Board of
Education when I was an eighteen year old high school senior.

These values were my guideposts through my two decades as a member of the state legislature.

And over my years as State Comptroller, they have been my touchstones.

Serving as State Comptroller is a privilege. I have approached each day in office with a simple
goal:

Do good. Make a positive difference.

And I’m proud to say, as I stand before you today, we have fulfilled this goal.

This office plays a unique role in protecting taxpayer dollars. Our accountability agenda has
never been stronger.

Through audits of state agencies and local governments, over the past three years we have
uncovered nearly one billion dollars in waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer money.

One of our most recent initiatives has exposed special education providers who have been
stealing millions meant for special needs children.

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As a result of our work, money is being returned, wrongdoers are being prosecuted and new laws
requiring increased oversight of special education contractors have been enacted.

That’s just one example of how we make lasting change to make government more efficient and
responsible.

I am joined in an unprecedented coordination with our great attorney general, Eric
Schneiderman. Our Joint Task Force on Public Integrity has led to multiple arrests and
convictions of corrupt officials at the state and local levels.

We’re holding those who would rip off taxpayers accountable, sending a clear message that
unethical behavior will be investigated and prosecuted.

Our local governments across our state are facing many challenges. I implemented an early
warning system to identify municipalities and school districts in fiscal stress to help avoid a full
financial crisis.

We have never had a municipal bankruptcy in New York. I’m working to make sure we never
do.

I’ve used the reach of our office and the power of technology to make state government more
open. “Open Book New York” is a successful transparency project to empower citizens with
information on how their money is being spent.

As Trustee of the pension fund, I have restored confidence to a plan that had been dragged into
scandal. I’ve increased transparency in Fund operations, changed management policies and
structure, and reformed the way investments are made to ensure solid returns and ethical
practices.

And we’re doing more to invest pension dollars in opportunities right here in New York, from
Buffalo to Long Island.

We’ve used our clout to press for greater corporate responsibility on a host of issues including
political spending disclosure, climate change, worker safety and LGBT non-discrimination.

Last week, I announced that the value of the State Pension Fund rose to a record high of 176
billion dollars. That means the retirement benefits of the over one million members in our system
continue to be safe and secure.

Unlike so many other states, our plan is well funded and sustainable.

I never forget that there are real people and real families who are depending on those pensions
being there for their retirement.

And when some suggest that we replace defined benefit retirement plans for our school and
municipal workers, for our teachers, police officers and firefighters, I say no way, not on my
watch.

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Yes, by any measure, the Office of State Comptroller has never been stronger than it is today.

And our state is getting stronger as well.

Much has happened since we gathered together in 2010.

Back then, our state was still reeling from the gut punch delivered by the Great Recession that
cost us billions in lost revenue and hundreds of thousands of lost jobs.

As we gather today, New York State is well on the comeback trail, thanks to our Democratic
leadership headed by our great Governor Andrew Cuomo.

We’re adding jobs, the unemployment rate is going down, revenues are ticking up and
opportunities are growing.

We’ve accomplished much but there’s still much more to do. We must resolve to turn the
recovery into sustained economic growth so that every region of our state can fully benefit from
new opportunities.

So last week at the Republican convention, they began the effort to confuse voters by distorting
our record. We won’t let them get away with that!

And here’s how I’ll respond: In the words of the Happy Warrior Al Smith: “no matter how thin
you slice it, it’s still baloney.”

We must strive each day to earn the confidence of New Yorkers that their state government is on
their side and committed to integrity, transparency and accountability in the spending of their
hard earned tax dollars.

That’s why I seek your active support in my quest to continue to serve as your State Comptroller.
This office has an important, compelling and independent role to play in moving our state
forward.

The work continues.

The work continues to protect our pension fund to ensure a safe secure retirement for our
members, who deserve nothing less, and to grow the fund to reduce the cost on taxpayers…

The work continues as the state’s fiscal watchdog, to root out fraud, corruption and waste and
give taxpayers a more transparent, accountable, efficient government …

And the work continues to be the independent voice on the State Budget, advocating for
responsible and sustainable fiscal practices that will strengthen our state’s financial foundation
for the long term.

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As New York State Comptroller, I’ll continue to go to work every day striving to do right by
New Yorkers.

***

It is my great honor to serve the nineteen and a half million residents of New York State.

Each of them – every single New Yorker - deserves the best that I can give, every single day.

New Yorkers are hard-wired to serve – it’s in our DNA to help our neighbors, especially when
they are most in need.

Earlier this morning, the 9-11 Memorial Museum opened its doors for the first time to the public.

It is now an essential part of the New York City landscape, housed in the hallowed ground where
so many of our brothers and sisters perished.

It’s a place to pay tribute, to learn, to sit in silent prayer – a searing reminder of incalculable loss,
courage and sacrifice that will impart lessons to visitors from around the world in the coming
years.

Perhaps the most powerful lesson we can learn from 9-11 isn’t human beings’ capacity for evil -
it’s our capacity for good.

That day, out of the worst of human nature sprang the best.

New Yorkers’ courage and generosity in the face of unspeakable loss inspired people throughout
the world. It demonstrated that our values are far more than words and slogans – they live in
each of us, especially during the most trying of times.

We have seen those same values on display through storms Lee, Irene and Sandy. When disaster
comes, we jump into action, we put ourselves in harm’s way, we reach out to strangers, and we
do everything possible to lift each other up.

That’s who we are as New Yorkers.

We do good work.

We help our community.

We step forward to make a positive impact in the world.


And those values, the same core values that led me here, lie at the heart of our Democratic Party.

We are a diverse party, made up of many voices, but connected by one overriding vision …

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… A vision of a New York State where hard work still matters, where every child is given the
tools to succeed and where every family can build a good future.

I’m excited to launch this campaign with all of you.

And I’m reminded of the words of an extraordinary New York Democrat who has always been a
special inspiration to me, Robert Kennedy.

He once said “Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to
change a small portion of events, and in the total; of all those acts will be written the history of
this generation.”

In my heart, I’m still that eighteen year old kid on the Mineola School Board. And I still see the
Democratic Party and public service as the best vehicles to make a positive difference.

So my fellow New York Democrats, I ask you, are you ready to work over the next six months to
deliver our Democratic message from the top of the North Country through the boros of New
York City to the end of Long Island?

Are you ready to elect the Democratic Team to continue New York’s economic comeback?

Are you ready to fight for a progressive future for the hardworking families of the Empire State?

So Am I.

I’m proud to accept your nomination!

Thank you and God Bless New York State.

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