The National Conference of State Legislatures’ announced today that they will be presenting Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver with the William M. Bulger Excellence in State Leadership Award at their annual summit next month – which is taking place in Chicago.

The NCSL says the award is designed to honor “a leader who has worked to preserve and build public trust in the institution of the state legislature and whose career embodies the highest principles of leadership.”

“Since 1994, Speaker Silver has led the New York Assembly with great distinction. His leadership has been invaluable to New York, especially during the aftermath of the horrific attacks on the World Trade Center, which occurred in his assembly district, and the political upheaval following the resignation of a governor. It is also a testament to Speaker Silver that he is widely respected by legislative colleagues on both sides of the aisle,” said William T. Pound, executive director of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

“I am honored to receive this award and be cited for ‘excellence’ by a committee of my national peers,” said Silver. “I have what I think is one of the best jobs in the world: leading the New York State Assembly – an independent, member-driven institution, and this award tells me that we are doing something right here in the Empire State.

I am truly humbled, because I have tried very hard to live up to the ideals of the Bulger Award – integrity, passion, vision, and courage. It is a privilege to be listed alongside the previous award winners – all true public servants who have had distinguished careers.”

The NCSL goes on to make it clear that this award is not handed out based on policy, but rather awarded to lawmakers who have strengthened the “institution of state legislature.” In their press release, they include quotes from several Republican lawmakers including former Assembly minority leader and former Congressman Tom Reynolds. And this quote from current Minority Leader Brian Kolb:

“Although we often disagree on policy, the speaker has been respectful of those differences and willing to engage in open dialogue to reach consensus on important issues facing our State,” Kolb said. “During the last two budget cycles, Speaker Silver has worked with the governor and Legislature to reach a compromise that closed a multimillion dollar budget deficit. During these difficult financial times, he skillfully built consensus amongst the diverse members of the Legislature, which led to the development of a stable financial plan for the betterment of all New Yorkers.”

And a quick programming note. Speaker Silver will be a guest this evening on Capital Tonight.

Update: Governor Cuomo issued this statement congratulating Speaker Silver.

“Over the past 18 months, Speaker Silver has been an effective colleague as we have worked together to rebuild our state’s economy and make government work for the people. I congratulate the Speaker on receiving the prestigious William M. Bulger Excellence in State Legislative Leadership Award, which recognizes his many years of dedicated public service and hard work on behalf of the of people of New York. I am proud to know Speaker Silver as both a colleague in government and a personal friend, and I look forward to our continued efforts working together with both parties and both houses of the legislature to build a state that works for all New Yorkers.”