The current recession has exposed fundamental weaknesses in our State's economy. We became far too reliant on a few juggernauts to drive economic growth. And now, we are paying the price.
But I am certain of one thing: New York will renew itself.
Already, my administration has taken a number of key steps to ensure that critical services remain available to all New Yorkers and that our most vulnerable citizens are not left to fend for themselves.
We enacted a budget agreement that passed on time and closed a $17.7 billion deficit, while creating permanent reforms to the way health care is delivered in New York. The budget also included a record $2.3 billion health care savings plan to help addresses the unprecedented budget gap.
We reformed the outdated Rockefeller Drug Laws, granting judges the authority to divert non-violent addicts to treatment programs, and we greatly expanded existing drug treatment programs. Now non-violent drug addicts will get the treatment and the care that they need, while predatory kingpins get the punishment they deserve.
We enacted the first increase in the basic welfare grant in two decades to help assist those struggling in poverty during a time of unprecedented economic turmoil.
And we kept the trains running safely and on-time by agreeing to an historic MTA bailout plan that avoided painful service reductions and dramatically reduced proposed fare and toll increases.
Now, we will take bold new steps. We will prepare New York to lead the new economy.
This economy will be based on knowledge, technology and innovation. It will favor clean, renewable sources of energy, and it will create a fertile environment for entrepreneurship.
We have already set one of the world's most ambitious clean energy goals with our 45-by-15 program, which calls for 45 percent of the State's energy to come from renewable sources by 2015. Achieving this goal will create an estimated 50,000 new jobs in New York, and we are building the nation's strongest clean energy workforce to fill those jobs.
Energy is just one of the areas where we are poised to lead.
In 2007, I led the creation of the Empire State Stem Cell Fund, and we have already invested $118 million to support this vital research. Now, we are going to create a life science innovation cluster to develop the health care products of the future.
We can also lead the way in other innovative industries, from new ones like nanotechnology to older ones like agriculture.
We will provide a 10 percent match for stimulus dollars awarded to research facilities in our state through the Innovation Economy Matching Grants program. We have allocated $100 million over several years for this program, and we expect this will leverage $1 billion dollars in federal research funding.
In the New Economy, innovation, knowledge, and entrepreneurship mean real jobs for real people. But we can only create these jobs if we stay ahead of our competitors.
My economic development strategy is about taking bold steps for the people of New York. Our state has led the world's economy for the past hundred years, and we are poised to lead for the next hundred.