Unlike David Paterson’s effort to get state lawmakers to comprehend the depth of the fiscal crisis facing Albany, Michael Bloomberg's speech struck an optimistic tone during the State of the City at Brooklyn College today, outlining a plan to create jobs and a commitment to improve the city’s quality of life.
“There’s no question that the temporary state of our city is shaken. But I’m here today to tell you it’s not broken,” Bloomberg said.
Fiscally, Bloomberg described a plan to reduce or eliminate the unincorporated business tax, in addition to closing “loopholes” in the tax code.
City Councilman David Weprin, who chairs the Finance Committee, said much of the mayor’s fiscal plan requires approval from Albany, and cutting off one of their reliable funding streams – the unincorporated business tax – may not be so easy.
“We got to deal with the reality [which is] that's going to happen in such a tough fiscal year?” Weprin said after the speech. “It’s a bad tax, but at the same time, it’s direct revenue that the state relies on.”
A major focus of the mayor’s fiscal plan is turning New York City greener: retraining blue-collar workers for environmental jobs, and retrofitting public buildings – which provides employment opportunities for those newly trained workers.
Other notable economic proposals included providing emergency loans to small business to cover things like payroll expenses, identifying places to erect wind turbines and retraining laid-off financial sector employees in new “entrepreneur boot camps."
The mayor said at one point that the city’s economic turnaround is reliant on Washington, a fact which is often overlooked in flush times.
“Obviously, we can’t solve the country’s problems – and we can’t end the recession on our own. We don’t have the macro-economic tools of the federal government,” Bloomberg said.
Bloomberg ended his nearly hour-long speech by announcing that Deputy Mayor Patti Harris will report back to him in 60 days with a plan to engage “New Yorkers in public service,” answering a call broadly outlined by Barack Obama.
UPDATE: This may overshadow the mayor’s speech somewhat.