New York City revitalization and pension reform top the Mayor’s priority list.
Today a relatively optimistic Mayor Michael Bloomberg addressed a full house at the St. George Theater on Staten Island.
The Mayor’s 45 minute speech covered everything from hailing cabs to gun control, but Bloomberg focused much of his speech on economic growth and pension reform.
Reforming the pension system, a move the Mayor claims will save New York City millions of dollars, revolved around three major changes; consolidating the city’s pension system, raising the retirement age for non-uniform workers to 65 and changing state laws to allow the city to negotiate in the collective bargaining process. Bloomberg pledged he “will not sign a contract for salary increases unless they are accompanied by reforms in benefit packages that produce the savings [the city] needs to continue making investments in [its] future.”
Before Bloomberg begins his radical pension reform he will need approval from Albany. Right now, the state, not the city, sets pension benefits. But even if the state does not act, Bloomberg said he is dedicated to forcing change in a system that will cost the city $7 billion this year only.
But the Mayor did say these reforms and other cutbacks will help take the burden off taxpayers. He pledged he “will not raise taxes to balance the budget.” Bloomberg anticipates the city’s deficit to be around 2.4 billion next year.
As for investing in the city’s future, Bloomberg outlined plans to revitalize the city’s parks and roadways, a move he thinks will draw businesses and people to the city. He is still planning development projects and other improvements meant to maintain the city’s status as a world capital. The mayor said New York needs to “continue rebounding, continue growing, continue forging ahead and leading the nation” if it wants economic stability.
The Mayor did say some of these projects meant to spur economic growth have been scaled back so the city stays within its financial means.