By Eric Yun
Mayor Michael Bloomberg delivered the annual State of the City address at St. George Theater on Staten Island on Wednesday.
Bloomberg outlined his agenda for 2011, and said the city needed to continue reviving the economy, balancing the budget and modernizing the government. The mayor pledged to not raise taxes, despite pressures on next year’s budget that will be greater than ever.
“We can look back, and continue funding a government operating system that was built for another era,” said Bloomberg. “Or we can look forward and continue rebounding, continue growing, continue forging ahead and leading the nation. But we cannot do both.”
Bloomberg wants to revitalize many areas in the city including Queens, as the city cannot survive if New Yorkers move. “In Queens, shovels will go into the ground at Hunters Point South, where we’ll begin to transform long vacant land into a new middle-class development fueled by $2 billion in private investments that will create 4,600 jobs,” he said.
Cultural centers like the Queens Museum of Art will also receive funding to build new facilities. Bloomberg said that although money is tight, it is important to invest in the city’s cultural infrastructure.
Attracting people to New York is also a big priority. Bloomberg said he is pushing for federal immigration reform that would allow the next generation of entrepreneurs into the city. He also intends to enhance the city’s academic institutions to attract leaders in education and medicine.
Bloomberg also announced a proposal to allow livery cab drivers to make on-street pick- ups outside of Manhattan.
“Why shouldn’t someone in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, or Staten Island be able to hail a legal cab on the street? Ninety-seven percent of yellow cab pick-ups happen in Manhattan or at the airports – even though 80 percent of New Yorkers live outside of Manhattan,” Bloomberg said.
A new category of livery cars would be created under Bloomberg’s proposal that would provide all city residents a safe, reliable and convenient way to hail cabs. “Because whether you’re standing on 42nd Street in Manhattan or 42nd Street in Sunset Park, Brooklyn or 42nd Street in Sunnyside, Queens, you ought to be able to hail a cab,” he said.
The city is facing tough times, Bloomberg conceded, but he is confident the city will bounce back as it has always done. He described the state of the city as “strong, united, determined and ready to meet any challenge. Today, tomorrow and forever.”