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Bloomberg Delivers 10th State of the City Speech

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Mayor Michael Bloomberg delivering his 10th state of the city address in Staten Island Mayor Michael Bloomberg delivering his 10th state of the city address in Staten Island (Richard Yeh/WNYC)

At his tenth State of the City address, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the state of city is strong, but progress is not inevitable — it is up to us to create it.

Bloomberg also warned that the most severe budget cuts are ahead, due to unfunded mandates and pension benefits with no expected extra help from Albany or Washington this year.

Given that harsh economic reality, Bloomberg said the city must “continue transforming our economy into a more diverse, more dynamic, and more durable engine of growth,” while the government works to transform the way it spends tax dollars to serve the public.

"Because of unfunded mandates and pension benefits, we face multi-billion dollar deficits for years to come. And there is no magic wand to make them disappear. There is no rabbit left to pull out of the hat," Bloomberg said. "And there is no windfall coming from Albany or Washington this year. There is only us. Our resolve. Our courage."

Bloomberg outlined several budget proposals that will put him into conflict with powerful municipal unions, like raising the retirement age for non-uniform employees and refusing to authorize pay raises for city workers unless the contract will produce savings in benefits and pensions.

"I will not sign a contract with salary increases unless they're accompanied by reforms in benefit packages that produce the savings we need to continue making investment in our future and protecting vital services, period," Bloomberg said.

The mayor said budget cuts will be made to government services, and he plans to target the pensions of city workers. He also pledged to make pension reform the city’s “number one priority in Albany.”

But the belt-tightening will not come with tax increases, and while many public projects will require more private financing, Bloomberg said the city will not forget the single most important lesson of the 1970s.

“When you stop investing in the future, the future hits the road,” Bloomberg said, during his 50-minute speech at the 82-year-old St. George Theatre on Staten Island. “Jobs, people, capital – they all leave. We didn’t allow that to happen after the attacks of 9/11 and I promise you, we won’t allow it to happen now.“

The mayor said the city must revitalize waterfront projects, including the old Navy Homeport on Staten Island and Willets Point in Queens, as well as invest in parks and the city’s cultural infrastructure to spur job growth. He said his administration will find ways to make the city a more attractive place to live, and touted many city-funded projects that are already underway, such as more modern carnival rides at Coney Island and the partially opened Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Bloomberg called the need to fix “our broken immigration system” the “biggest single step that we can take to promote innovation in New York City.” He said that while it is a national issue, the city won’t wait for Washington to act and will launch programs to connect immigrant entrepreneurs to information and capital needed to open and grow small businesses.

Taking a page from the crowdsourcing that the mayor said has helped cutting-edge companies improve services and save money, the city will also launch online forums where New Yorkers can post ideas and comment on proposals, and the city will then implement the best ones.

Richard Yeh/WNYC
Mayor Bloomberg said the city has cut spending nine times in the past three years, and it’s facing cuts more severe than ever.
Richard Yeh/WNYC
A few business owners from Staten Island were invited to sit on the stage during the mayor’s speech.
Richard Yeh/WNYC
The mayor highlighted a few local entrepreneurs, standing behind him here, in his speech. “Be prepared to get a few resumes,” said Bloomberg.
Richard Yeh/WNYC
Mayor Bloomberg greeted Council Speaker Christine Quinn before the speech.
Richard Yeh/WNYC
Luanne Sorrentino (center left) and Doreen Cugno, co-owners of the St. George’s Theatre warm up the stage, with help from kids from the P.S. 29 Choir.
Richard Yeh/WNYC
The gilded interior of the 82-year-old St. George’s Theatre.

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Comments [4]

Freddy

How much do we pay Deputy Mayor Goldsmith? How about the new position in DOE that was created so Cathie Black could be Chancellor? How many folks are on the Mayor's staff? How much do we pay educational consultants to produce a confusing system of school admissions and school grades? How about CityTime? How about ticketing double parkers instead of ignoring them? How about ticketing bicyclists who ignore traffic laws?

This disjointed rant is a list of some ideas I came up with in about 90 seconds. Some considered thought by someone who knows more about city government could probably come up with more ideas which could provide less pummeling of government workers and more efficiency in government.

Jan. 20 2011 05:51 AM
oscar from ny

wow for once you did something good mr mayor, well i was just thinking bot all the shows at wnyc and they are getting better and better! ily guys!

Jan. 19 2011 10:07 PM
Jeff from Woodside, Queens

I'd like to ask all reporters to pay attention to significant details. Creation of jobs does not mean creation of jobs that pay a livable wage. For example, GM created 1200 jobs last year that paid less than half of what the current workers were paid when they started. The amount of money being paid out in pensions does not mean that the employees put no money towards those pension payouts. To not report the entire story with details that matter does a disservice to the listeners and society.

Similarly, Mr. Bloomberg's idea of taking away people's income that they have included in financial planning for decades does a disservice to both those workers and all other workers. It sets a precedent, one that has already been set in the cooperate world by numerous companies slashing pensions and destroying lives. Concentrating money in the hands of a few means the economy slows down by sequestering the funds from being used in transactions. Raise taxes on the top 1%. They have more wealth now than ever since the Great Depression. Stop taxing the middle class and the poor.

Jan. 19 2011 07:49 PM
Stuart from Queens, NY

Mr. mayor seems to be right in tune with the corporate plan. Yep, that's what we need to do, get rid of pensions that guarantee at least some minimal lifestyle in retirement. After all it's outrageous demands for living wage and a dignified old age that has ruined our economy, not the bad choices of corporate and financial institutions.

Let's invite immigrants, legal and otherwise, people who are desperate enough to live 10 to a room in order to have the privilege of working jobs with no future in return for slave wages to fill the jobs of those malcontents. That way we can help kill unions and lower all standards to the lowest corporate denominator. Work in fear, with no or minimal health care (or a plan you can't afford to buy into), live in fear, get fired to save face and money, go away and die.

Jan. 19 2011 06:33 PM

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