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Closing 2010 with Grace and Hope

GREG FLOYD | 4/12/2011, 5:28 p.m.

I am always excited as well as a little relieved when December arrives. It's a time to look back on all that we have accomplished, and look forward to new opportunities and alliances in the face of future challenges. My greatest hope in the year ahead is prosperity for all, particularly those hardest hit by the recession.

We have made it through a very difficult year. The economic crisis has faded for the big financial institutions, but not for working families and the unemployed. Critical government services are threatened by persistently high unemployment and the resulting strain on tax revenue.

The last thing our economy and communities need are more layoffs, and it's up to each of us to do our part to advocate for the retention and creation of good jobs.

Much like our personal New Year's resolutions, it remains to be seen if the incoming Congress, governor and Legislature will actually keep their promises. The fight taking place in Congress over extending tax cuts for the rich signals another tough year ahead full of political bickering, backroom deals and misplaced priorities. We can count on many battles; the question is whether anything will get accomplished for the American people--not just furthering the interests of big business.

The top priority must be jumpstarting the sputtering economy. While many companies and banks are now prospering, unemployment is still too high and has created downward pressure on wages. The government needs to help both private and public sector workers by encouraging spending and hiring.

Pumping more tax money into the state budget benefits all New Yorkers. Of course, accomplishing this is easier said than done, and there will be many challenges along the way. We must press our elected officials to do everything in their power to get the state economy moving again and not simply use cutbacks to close the dreaded budget gap. We must generate new jobs and new revenue in order to secure our future.

I am ready to work with our new governor to address the real problems facing New Yorkers and not merely blame unionized workers for our state's economic ills. He will have to make many difficult choices next year, but they must be made based on the best interests of all people and not the directions of the political winds.

But we cannot simply leave it to government to create a stronger and more equitable economy. It is too important. New York labor leaders are exploring new partnerships to see how we can collectively invest in putting union workers back to work. By investing pension funds in public works projects, we can repair both our crumbling infrastructure and our frayed communities.

I remain hopeful. I pray the government keeps those resolutions that are for the greater good, as we will try to keep ours. As we move into 2011, let us also be thankful for the gifts that we received in 2010. It was at times frustrating and even worrisome, but we made it through the year together. I know we will do the same next year.