NEW YORK – Mayor Bill de Blasio will deliver one of the most important speeches of his young administration, one in which he is expected to outline his vision for New York City and offer a glimpse into his signature goal of fighting the city’s widening income inequality gap.
De Blasio will give the State of the City, the mayoral equivalent of the President’s State of the Union, at LaGuardia Community College in Queens on Monday in what will be his most closely watched speech since his inauguration address on New Year’s Day.
“We’re going to talk about framing our first year of working and how we intend to follow through on this very ambitious agenda,” de Blasio said during a City Hall news conference on Friday. “I think the people in this city deserve to have a very clear articulation.”
De Blasio has declined to get into specifics of what he’ll say but aides suggest the mayor, fresh off a landslide election that he believes give him a strong mandate, will call for sweeping liberal legislative action to close the gap between the nation’s largest city’s haves and have-nots.
He will all but certainly make another push for his central campaign pledge to raise taxes on the wealthy to fund universal pre-kindergarten, an idea that polls well but needs support in Albany to become law. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is up for re-election, has refused to raise taxes, instead proposing to fund the program by finding money in the state budget.
De Blasio, a Democrat whose party also controls the city council, will also likely make a pitch for expanding the city’s living wage, a plan which would go hand-in-hand with legislation pending before the council that will increase the number of paid sick days for workers across the city. He is also expected to continue to draw clear lines between himself and his three-term predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, by calling for both improving police and community relations and creating more affordable housing.
That contrast will also be apparent in de Blaiso’s choice of venue. Though Bloomberg held his State of the City address in every borough during his 12 years in office, his final one last year was a glitzy, big-budget affair held at the Barclays Center, the gleaming new home of the Brooklyn Nets. In the arena, members of Bloomberg’s staff had hung banners – ala a team’s retired jerseys – that signified important statistics, including the city’s murder and graduation rates.
The speech at the community college in Queens will likely not have the same extravagant stagecraft.
But the State of the City may only be the second-most important bit of public speaking de Blasio does during the week. A few days later, he is scheduled to deliver his initial budget address in which he will spell out his priorities for the city’s $70 billion-plus budget and discuss the stark fiscal challenges posed by upcoming contract negotiations with all of the city’s unions.