A Rainy-Day State of the City

In Michael Bloomberg's State of the City speech, which he will deliver in Brooklyn today, he will announce a restructuring of local taxes aimed at spurring 400,000 new jobs over the next six years, according to an administration official familiar with the speech.

The changes will include a reduction or elimination of the unincorporated business tax, which affects about 17,000 business people, said this official. The mayor will also announce plans to close “loopholes” in the tax system, many of which were meant to create incentive for development of business sectors that now don’t  really need it (for example, beeper sales).

Last year around this time, Bloomberg delivered his seventh State of the City Speech at an ice rink in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. At the time, he was considering entering a presidential race, and seemed to be speaking, at times, to an audience far beyond the five boroughs.

In that speech, Bloomberg showcased the city's immigrant communities, seemingly responding to comments made by Republican Mitt Romney, who dubbed New York City a "sanctuary city" for illegal immigrants. He also spoke about sweeping crime-fighting measures, and the need for more green development.

During last year's address, Bloomberg also laid out an ambitious plan to impanel a charter revision commission that would give a top-to-bottom review of city government, and possibly recommend radical changes.

That hasn't happened yet. 

Dick Dadey, head of the good-government group Citizens Union, said that he'd like to hear Bloomberg's "specific plan and time table for how he is going to follow through on his promise to form a sorely needed charter revision commission" that would "do a thorough review of the city charter and government on the 20th anniversary of the last major restructuring of city government."

But given the dire times, reform issues — even important — may simply seem too abstract for the mayor to choose to deal with now. With the worsening economy here and in Washington, Bloomberg isn't likely to focus much attention on anything other than coping mechanisms.

"I think what he is going to have to talk about is how we survive," said consultant Joe Mercurio. "You have all these governors and mayors across the country all acting like [Herbert] Hoover, raising taxes and cutting spending, just the opposite of what the economy needs."

Mercurio said Bloomberg may also be in the unusual position of needing to defend himself.

"The hallmark of why Michael Bloomberg was a great mayor was that he put the city back in good fiscal condition," Mercurio said. Under Bloomberg, he went on, "we were going to be able to weather rainy days. Well, did he actually pull it off? Did he really put the city in a good fiscal position?"

A Rainy-Day State of the City