In his first State of the City address, Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed to battle the inequality gap, with plans to raise the city’s minimum wage, provide more affordable housing and further educational opportunities.
“The state of our city, as we find it today, is a Tale of Two Cities – with an inequality gap that fundamentally threatens our future,” he said, referencing his campaign slogan.
The mayor said the school’s namesake, former Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, and the college in many ways, represented his own vision for the city.
“[LaGuardia Community College] is a place where New Yorkers from all walks of life can find a path to a future, with a good job and a shot at a better life,” de Blasio said.
Before detailing his plans to help close the income gap, he warned of the budgetary challenges the city is facing, with more than 150 unsettled municipal contracts. But he promised to “navigate towards a future that is progressive and fiscally responsible.”
He also vowed, through a series of measures, to “lift the floor for all New Yorkers.”
“New York will only work when it works as one city,” he said.
De Blasio said he would work with the City Council to increase the number of living wage jobs offered by employers that the city subsidizes.
The city will also ask Albany to give it the power to raise its minimum wage, he said.
In his address, de Blasio pledged to preserve or construct nearly 200,000 units of affordable housing, and said that a newly appointed team of leaders at the city’s housing agencies would release a plan to do so by May 1.
He additionally offered a plan to “protect the city’s almost half-million undocumented New Yorkers,” that would, regardless of immigration status, issue municipal ID cards to all New Yorkers this year.
The mayor also said he his administration would focus on Sandy recovery efforts “with a comprehensive review and updated plan.”
De Blasio’s speech, however, did not waiver much from his message of closing the income gap.
He said education was a key to ending the “Tale of Two Cities,” from pre-kindergarten to higher learning.
The mayor vowed to expand STEM and health care-oriented training programs in high schools and at CUNY, and set other goals to make sure more high-quality jobs in the five boroughs are filled are by those educated in the city’s schools.
He also made his case for his plan for universal, full-day pre-kindergarten that would tax the rich to pay for it.
“We’re simply asking Albany to allow New York City to tax itself – its wealthiest residents… those making a half-million or more a year,” de Blasio said.