From the start, Liu focused his attention on the city’s lower-income families, introducing initiatives like a minimum wage increase from $7.25 to $11.50, implementing paid sick leave, expanding temporary disability insurance and paid family leave insurance.
“I support our leaders in Albany who are working to raise our state’s minimum wage to $8.50 an hour, but we need to recognize that the cost of living varies drastically within our state,” Liu said at John Jay College of Criminal Justice’s Gerald Lynch Theater. “This will help single-parent families with either one or two children finally climb out of poverty.”
While his office predicted a $2.7 billion gap by the 2014 fiscal year and a $3.8 billion for 2015, Liu assured that his office has been hard at work coming up with a plan to cut taxes and fines in the city by $500 million for small businesses with the hopes of raising the morale in the workforce.
His plan includes eliminating the general corporation tax for businesses paying less than $5,000 in taxes a year, exempting businesses that make less than $250,000 a year from the city’s unincorporated business tax, the reduction of fines by $200 million, and even went as far as to call out the Knicks on their $15 million real-property tax exemption.
“Now, I love the Knicks as much as anyone else in this town, even though they let Jeremy Lin go to Houston, but it’s time for the Garden to kick in it’s fair share just like everyone else,” Liu said.
Students from PS 203 danced to Mumford and Sons at the start of the program, the Life Dance Company followed with an interpretive dance production and students from area middle schools and high schools were also on hand, prefacing Liu’s discussion of the youth’s role in the future of the city.
“This requires a ‘cradle-to-career’ approach in order to avoid a ‘school-to-prison’ pipeline,” he said. “There has been a lot of talk in this city about improving high school graduation rates, and that's a good thing, but we know in today’s complex economy that it takes a college degree to make a decent living. Yet four out of five New York City public high school students did not graduate from college.”
His plan includes providing 6th graders with refurbished computers as part of a Computers for Youth Program, as well providing Medicaid and parental support up to two years following a child's birth for first-time mothers with the Nurse Family Partnership program.
Additionally, he discussed his proposed plan for reducing caseloads on school guidance counselors from the current average of 259 to 100 students.
“New York should be the education capital of the country,” said Liu, himself a CUNY graduate. “We must work to increase the proportion of New Yorkers with either an associate's or bachelor's degree from where it is now at 42 percent to 60 percent by the year 2025.”