“I work for the people of New York and independence is what you expect of your State Comptroller.” – NY State Comptroller DiNapoli

Inaugural Address, January 13, 2019

“I work for the people of New York and independence is what you expect of your State Comptroller.” – NY State Comptroller DiNapoli

Excerpt of remarks from DiNapoli’s Inaugural Address (January 13, 2019), courtesy of Office of the NY State Comptroller:

So on May 3, 1972, 712 voters in the Mineola School District elected this 18 year old high school senior, student organization president and soon to be Hofstra freshman to the Board of Education. Did they have any idea what they started?

Fast forward to November 6, 2018, when 4,027,886 New York voters, a record number, cast their ballots for the somewhat older version of that teenaged school trustee!

It all started with the example of my parents. The children of immigrants, they were working people.

They played by the rules and did all they could so their children would have even greater opportunities then they had. My dad was a cable splicer and a shop steward with the Communications Workers of America.

My mom was a civil servant, a clerk at the Nassau County Police Department and a member of CSEA.

My parents were everyday heroes. The simple core values they instilled in me and my brother continues to guide me today: Do good work. Give back to the community. Make a positive difference.

I was drawn to public service because of the imprint made on me by my parents and by the inspiration of towering public figures from my youth, Martin Luther King Jr., John and Robert Kennedy.

I was drawn to public service because of the imprint made on me by my parents and by the inspiration of towering public figures from my youth, Martin Luther King Jr., John and Robert Kennedy. These leaders embodied a selfless, courageous commitment to helping the larger community.

So today I reaffirm to you and all New Yorkers that I will direct my efforts to ensure that the work of the Comptroller’s office will be dedicated to benefit all the people of our great state.

The issues of transparency, accountability and integrity must be addressed at every level of government. The Comptroller’s Office is uniquely positioned to advance these important and interconnected goals.

We will analyze and comment thoughtfully on state budgets, state debt and state fiscal practices to keep New York on a responsible financial path.

Our audits of state agencies, public authorities, municipalities and school districts have already identified billions in waste, inefficiencies and lost revenues.

Our professional audit teams will continue this work with a particular emphasis on cyber security, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Medicaid program, economic development spending, and how Industrial Development Agencies have implemented our reform legislation.

And when we uncover fraud and corruption, our Investigations Division will work with law enforcement to bring wrongdoers to justice and recover monies stolen from taxpayers. In this regard, I look forward to working with our new Attorney General, Tish James, to build on the Public Integrity partnership we have already established with the AG’s office.

Our policy reports will continue to help inform the public debate on the range of issues confronting our state.

From the environment to the positive impact of immigration to housing affordability to health care outcomes to the federal balance of payments, we will continue to provide policymakers and all stakeholders with thoughtful data and information.

Our operations, payroll and contracts divisions will keep our state’s daily business functions running smoothly. We will expand the use of emerging technologies in the area of data analytics to make sure state money is being spent efficiently and properly.

We will keep spreading the word about the 529 College Savings and the NY ABLE programs that the Comptroller’s Office administers.

Assisting families secure their finances by helping them invest for their children’s higher education or securing the financial futures of those with disabilities are important services we provide.

Now, who has gotten unclaimed funds from my office? Last year we were able to return a record 460 million dollars to New Yorkers! We will do even more to reunite people with their lost money.

As Comptroller, there is no more important responsibility than being the steward of the State and Local Government and Police and Fire retirement systems. I enjoy a special bond with our public workforce.

As Trustee of the pension fund, my priority is to protect the retirement security of the over one million retirees, beneficiaries and active employees who are in our plan. I am proud that the New York pension system is one of the best funded plans in the nation; one of only 4 state plans that is over 90% funded.

That’s why to those who would seek to replace our defined benefit plans for our state and municipal workers, for our teachers, for our police and firefighters, I will continue to say: No way, not on my watch!

And we will “do well by doing good” through our active engagement with the companies we invest in on a host of issues that affect the bottom line.

We are starting 2019 with a new effort to press corporate America to have clear policies on disability inclusion.

From pushing corporations on labor rights, on the need for there to be more women on corporate boards, on LGBTQ non-discrimination, on the environment and climate change, on executive compensation, on disclosure of corporate political spending, New York will have the most robust corporate engagement initiatives of any state fund.

We are starting 2019 with a new effort to press corporate America to have clear policies on disability inclusion.

Studies show that companies that support employees with disabilities outperform their peers. I’m calling on the largest corporate employers in our portfolio to report on their inclusion of people with disabilities across the enterprise.

We’re investing more of our pension dollars in New York through our In-state program. And our Sustainable Investment Program commits ten billion dollars to climate smart opportunities to help us meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Robert F. Kennedy once said: “Every generation inherits a world it never made; and as it does so, it automatically becomes the trustee of that world for those who come after.” That is the spirit that inspires me today.

With all the challenges and complexities of today’s political terrain, I pledge to do my part to keep our discourse civil and our work focused on the long term, best interests of our state and not on short term or personal gain.

Above all, I will maintain a fierce adherence to the most important attribute that must be demanded of the person who holds this office: Independence. I work for the people of New York and independence is what you expect of your State Comptroller.

After all these years of elected office, I am as energized as ever to serve. And for all our successes, I still believe our best days are ahead of us, if we do the work the public expects of us. Yes, I am an optimist.

A legendary New Yorker, Governor Al Smith, once observed, “The American People never carry an umbrella. They prepare to walk in eternal sunshine.”

Whatever the next four years may bring, with your support at my back, I embark on my new term of office with that sense of Eternal Sunshine. Thank you!

Albany Phone: (518) 474-4015 Fax: (518) 473-8940
NYC Phone: (212) 383-1388 Fax: (212) 681-7677
Internet: www.osc.state.ny.us
E-Mail: press@osc.state.ny.us

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