NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former New York Governor Hugh Carey, a fiscal hawk who tamed a potentially ruinous fiscal crisis in the Empire State in the 1970s, died on Sunday at his summer home on Long Island, officials said. He was 92.
Carey, a Democrat, was New York’s 51st governor, serving two terms from 1975 though 1982. Before that, he served for 14 years as a congressman from Brooklyn.
He is credited with saving New York City from bankruptcy, and reversing prior Governor Nelson Rockefeller’s legacy of higher taxes and spending, and consequent fiscal woes exacerbated by a mid-1970s recession.
“Declaring that the days of wine and roses were over, Governor Carey looked to statesmanship and compromise, rather than partisanship or parochialism, to get the state’s fiscal house in order,” said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in a statement announcing Carey’s death.
“Governor Carey never backed away from a tough fight, but he also knew that governing meant respecting the Legislature and respecting members of the opposite party. His administration was not marked with partisan fights or ideological gridlock,” Cuomo said.
Carey was born April 11, 1919 in Brooklyn. He served in Germany during World War II, and worked for the family petroleum distribution business.
He and his first wife, Helen, had 14 children. She died in 1974, the year he ran for governor. He is survived by 11 children, 25 grandchildren, and six great grandchildren.
“Upon leaving office, it was written that Governor Carey was a ‘Governor for hard winters,'” Cuomo said. “It was true. He was tough, he was smart, and he was the person our state needed to see us through crisis.”
In the mid 1970‘s, with New York city on the brink of bankruptcy, Carey eventually secured a $2.3 billion federal bailout from then President Gerald Ford.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Carey’s leadership through tough economic times had served as a guide for his own tenure during the recent recession.
“His strong and determined leadership, and his ability to bring people together to fix the most difficult problems, saved New York City during one of the toughest times in our history, and set the stage for the City’s incredible rebirth in the years and decades that followed,” Bloomberg said.
Writing by Eric Johnson; Editing by Jerry Norton