NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio delivered his sixth State of the City Address on Thursday. Taking the stage at the Symphony Space on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, the Mayor highlighted a series of sweeping proposals aimed at fighting income inequality across New York City. Policy promises focused on health care, workers’ rights, and tenant protection were paired with bold ideas on transportation, early education and retirement security. The Mayor also used the speech as an opportunity to thank dozens of first-responders and City workers for their distinguished service in 2018.
“Life in the fairest big city in America should never feel impossible,” said Mayor de Blasio. “New York City is already the greatest city in the world and we now need to be the greatest city to live in. That’s what the fairest big city in America means and that’s exactly what New Yorkers deserve – to live in a city where work is rewarded and all this prosperity is shared.”
Mayor de Blasio unveiled the following initiatives as part of his 2019 agenda and State of the City Address:
Guaranteed Healthcare for All: The Administration will launch the largest, most comprehensive plan in the nation to guarantee health care for every New Yorker. The plan will serve the 600,000 New Yorkers without insurance by strengthening NYC’s public option, MetroPlus, and guaranteeing anyone unable to afford or ineligible for insurance – including undocumented New Yorkers – has direct access to NYC Health + Hospitals’ physicians, pharmacies and mental health and substance use services through a new program called NYC Care. All services will be affordable on a sliding scale. The programs will include customer-friendly call lines to help New Yorkers – regardless of their insurance – make appointments with general practitioners, cardiologists, pediatricians, gynecologists and a full spectrum of health care services.
Paid Personal Time: New York City will become the first city in the nation to mandate Paid Personal Time for workers. More than 500,000 full- and part-time employees in New York City currently have no paid time off. The Mayor will pursue local legislation that would require private employers with five or more employees to offer at least 10 annual days of Paid Personal Time, allowing employees to take paid time off for any purpose, including vacation, religious observances, bereavement and time with family. The legislation would guarantee this time for approximately 3.4 million New Yorkers.
New Protections and Benefits for All NYC Workers: The City will guarantee that hundreds of thousands of our lowest paid workers—from housekeepers to freelancers—will receive the wages and benefits they deserve. The Department of Consumer Affairs, 50 years after its establishment, will expand to become the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection with a new mandate to better protect consumers and workers. It will enforce City laws including Paid Sick Leave and intervene when a for-hire worker is mistreated or a freelancer’s pay is delayed.
Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants: Protecting tenants is a core part of the City’s strategy to confront the affordable housing crisis. This newly created office will spearhead the City’s anti-harassment and outreach initiatives across city agencies, aggressively enhance interagency enforcement and more closely engage with tenants and advocates. The City is also pursuing new local law to seize upwards of 40 of the most distressed multiple dwelling buildings annually and transition them to responsible, mission driven ownership. The City is also prioritizing Local and State legislation to dramatically increase financial penalties against landlords and auto-converting judgments into tax liens if landlords fail to make repairs.
Equity and Excellence for All - 3-K Expansion: Mayor de Blasio newly announced two additional districts where 3-K for All will launch in Fall 2019. With this expansion, 3-K for All will be in twice as many districts next year and more than one-third of school districts citywide. 20,000 3-year-olds will be enrolled in 3-K for all this coming school year. By Fall 2020, 3-K for All will be in the 10 districts with the highest rates of students receiving free and reduced priced lunch.
Beginning Fall 2019, 3-K For All will be rolled out in District 8 (Country Club, Pelham Bay, Throgs Neck, Castle Hill, Soundview, Hunts Point), District 32 (Bushwick) (both announced as part of the Mayor’s 2019 State of the City Address), District 6 (Washington Heights), District 9 (South Bronx), District 19 (East New York) and District 31 (Staten Island). Currently, the following districts have 3K: District 4 (East Harlem), District 5 (Harlem), District 7 (South Bronx), District 16 (Bedford-Stuyvesant), District 23 (Brownsville), District 27 (Broad Channel, Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Rockaways). In Fall 2020, District 12 (Central Bronx) and District 29 (Cambria Heights, Hollis, Laurelton, Queens Village, Springfield Gardens, St. Albans) will get 3-K for All.
Bus Acceleration and Lane Enforcement: The Department of Transportation (DOT) will work with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the NYPD to take action to reverse the decline in system ridership and increase average speeds by 25% by the end of 2020. DOT will work with the MTA to optimize the bus network in every borough, starting with the Bronx in 2019 and pursue street redesigns to improve bus movement and maximize the effectiveness of the new networks. The City will perform street projects to benefit 600,000 daily riders across the city in 2019. DOT will increase the pace of bus lane installation from an average of 7 miles per year to 10-15 miles per year and add traffic-signal priority at 300 intersections per year, doubling the number of intersections where buses get green lights. The City will improve 5 miles of existing Select Bus Service (SBS) routes per year with extended hours, restricted turns, and piloting up to 2 miles of physically separated lanes in 2019. The administration will also press for all-door boarding and off-board fare collection, and improve bus stops. The City will press the MTA to restart the SBS program to fulfill our October 2017 commitment to add 20 SBS routes citywide, doubling the current number. To keep bus lanes clear, the Administration will advocate for expanded camera enforcement of bus lanes with the the state legislature and the NYPD will create seven (7) dedicated tow truck teams for continual bus lane enforcement and towing.
Ferry Expansion: The City is keeping its promise to expand NYC Ferry service to more waterfront communities where neighborhoods are growing and job centers are burgeoning. New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) will be expanding service from Staten Island to Lower Manhattan and the West Side of Manhattan; and from Coney Island to Lower Manhattan. NYC Ferry will add a new stop at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and a new landing at Ferry Point in the Bronx, where the City will improve access to the Ferry Point Park landing within the park and make other corresponding improvements to the parking lot.
Free Eyeglasses for Pre-K and 1st Graders: In New York City, approximately 25 percent of students need glasses and only 5 percent of those in need currently get them. The inability to see inhibits students’ academic progress and is a barrier to learning. That’s why the City and Warby Parker partnered in 2015 to provide eyeglasses for all Community Schools, now serving over 100,000 students in need. The Department of Education and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will provide free eye exams to all kindergarteners and first graders and Warby Parker will provide free eyeglasses to all in need. The City expects over 140,000 children to receive eye exams and approximately 33,000 students to receive free eyeglasses.
Retirement Security for All: Fewer than half of all working New Yorkers have access to a plan that can help them save for their retirement years and 40 percent of New Yorkers between the ages of 50-64 have less than $10,000 saved for retirement. These people are mostly lower-income and disproportionately female and people of color. This reality is neither acceptable nor sustainable for the future of this City. New Yorkers are working longer and harder and have nothing to show for it at the end of the day. That is why Mayor de Blasio is proposing to provide access to Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) for all working New Yorkers. Through this program, an employee who makes $50,850 per year (the median wage for a job in New York City) and invests 5% annually while earning an average net return of 4% would save $146,274 after thirty years of work - more than 10 times the current amount saved by 40% of near-retirement workers. Mayor de Blasio will work with the City Council to pass legislation in 2019 that requires all employers with at least five employees to either offer access to a retirement plan or auto-enroll their employees in to the City plan with a default contribution of the employees’ own earnings of 5%, which can then be increased or reduced by the employee.