We are a business organization and a labor organization and a civic organization. We have members sitting right at this table, my friend Ed Cleary and others, who have been part of this crusade to make New York a better place to live and work.
The fact is that ISTEA has been a great help.
Mr. Chairman, you asked me if I were the king for a day what would I want. I said I really would like West Way.
But we lost that battle and that was one of the few battles that we lost in 27 years.
We won a fight back in 1986 to save State and local tax deduction, which I think has been an important item to benefit most of the major States in this country.
I want to remind my good friend, Senator Baucus, that if we didn't have sound bridges he couldn't have run the marathon a few times, the New York City marathon, because it starts at the Verrazano Bridge. In any event, it was the New York City Marathon that I think brought all of us together in 1976 right in the middle of the fiscal crisis, and we've come through that, and ISTEA has helped in the last number of years, thanks to you folks.
I want to also remind my good friend, Senator Baucus, that back in 1978 there was going to be a beef boycott because of the price of beef, and some of us didn't stand up to that insanity and invited Governor Tom Judge into New York so he could have steak with us on -- it was going to be a Wednesday boycott, and he had bacon for breakfast with us, and we had pastrami or corned beef for lunch, and then we had a big steak with Mayor Koch for dinner.
I remind you that New York is still part of the other States, so don't let us down in this. ISTEA is working, and if we can improve on it let's improve on it.
The fact is that I was told to get down here by 11:00. I was late. I jumped in the subway at 51st and Lexington. I was down here in 12 minutes. So ISTEA has gotten our rapid transit system working pretty good.
The City of New York is on a tremendous resurgence. Right in this area where you are at there are redevelopments going on. This is the most depressed major business district in the country. It's the third-largest business district in the country, the first being midtown Manhattan, the second being Chicago, the third being Wall Street.
A year or two ago there was 30 percent vacancy -- that's 30 million square feet of office space. I don't think there is 30 million square feet of office space in the State of Montana, but we have it. We had to fill it up. It's now down from 30 percent vacancy down to about 18 percent vacancy.
It's all because people are able now to get down here better because of ISTEA.
I say make ISTEA better. Put a little saccharine in it, a little sugar in it. Make it sweeter. We in the City of New York will thank you forever.
Thank you very much.