Friday, April 18, 2014

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NY1 Political Director Bob Hardt's daily look Inside City Hall.

NY1 ItCH: The State of Bill de Blasio's Spiceless City

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As Bill de Blasio prepares to deliver his first State of the City address today, it's time to take a quick look at what he's already achieved – and what he could put on his agenda in his first major speech since his inauguration last month.

There's no argument that de Blasio's push for universal pre-K has become more than a campaign pledge; it's the mantra of his fledgling administration. While it's still unclear how the program will get funded – and whether it will be ready to be in place by this fall – it now seems that it will be something that will be fully implemented at least by the time the mayor is up for re-election in 2017.

De Blasio's promise to end income inequality also has a received boost by his broadening of the paid sick leave law, allowing another 500,000 workers to be granted as many as five sick days. Expect the mayor also today to propose extending the living wage bill, perhaps by closing some of the exemptions on city-subsidized employers who pay their workers less than $11.50 an hour.

And while pushing more chips on the table to back up his proposals is smart politics, de Blasio has a chance to bring something more to the table in today's speech. New ideas and bold proposals are what made New York City great and an address like today gives a new mayor a rare bully pulpit that won't necessarily exist even a year from now.

Some of Michael Bloomberg's greatest successes – and failures – came by thinking big. The smoking ban, taking on big sodas, fighting for a West Side Stadium , and proposing congestion pricing were all controversial ideas brewed up in the Bullpen in City Hall.

At least in liberal Democratic circles, universal pre-K and raising the minimum wage are as American as apple pie. This could be a time for the mayor to reach for a dish that's a little bit spicier.

Bob Hardt

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