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De Blasio unveils NYC Ferry expansion, retirement program, more in State of the City address

The mayor's speech comes days after he announced policy initiatives to provide health care for all New Yorkers and to require employers to give workers paid vacation. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio delivered his State of

Mayor Bill de Blasio delivered his State of the City address on Thursday. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

Mayor Bill de Blasio delivered his sixth State of the City address Thursday morning, outlining a progressive plan that includes proposals for a universal retirement program, an expansion of the NYC Ferry system and a "sheriff" to hold landlords accountable.

With supporters sitting behind him on stage at Symphony Space in Manhattan, de Blasio reiterated his vow to continue to make New York City the "fairest big city in America."

De Blasio's address comes days after the mayor announced policy initiatives to provide health care for all New Yorkers and to require employers to give workers paid vacation

Missed the speech? Here's what you need to know.

The Mayor's Office to Protect Tenants

De Blasio signed an executive order on stage during his address that created an office to police bad landlords. 

"The city’s worst landlords will have a new sheriff to fear: the Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants," de Blasio said.

In 2017, the mayor signed into law legislation that mandated the city to create an Office of the Tenant Advocate but the city Department of Buildings, tasked with overseeing the office, never requested funding to staff it. Instead, the duties of the Office of the Tenant Advocate were carried out by the Buildings Marshal, with support from other DOB units, a spokesman had said in March.

NYC Ferry expansion

Next stop: Staten Island. The city's burgeoning ferry service will expand with routes connecting Staten Island to Manhattan's West Side and Coney Island to lower Manhattan. And the existing Sound View route will  be extended to Ferry Point, the mayor said.

Universal retirement program

De Blasio wants to make Individual Retirement Accounts available to all New Yorkers. Under the proposal, a  person who makes the city's median salary of $50,850 per year and invests 5 percent annually while earning an average net return of 4 percent would save $146,274 after 30 years, according to the mayor's office.

"If you’ve spent your lifetime working, you’ve already paid your dues," de Blasio said. "Your retirement should be something you look forward to."

Education

The mayor announced an expansion of his 3-K for All program, which offers free, full-day education to 3-year-olds in the city. Beginning fall 2019, the program will be expanded to District 8 (Country Club, Pelham Bay, Throgs Neck, Castle Hill, Soundview and Hunts Point) and District 32 (Bushwick).

Additionally, all kindergartners and first-graders in city public schools will receive free eye exams and any student who needs glasses will receive a free pair, via an expanded partnership with Warby Parker.

Speeding up buses

The city Department of Transportation, Metropolitan Transportation Authority and NYPD will work in tandem toward a goal of increasing bus speeds by 25 percent by the end of 2020. 

"We're going to double the number of intersections where we give buses green-light priority," de Blasio said.

The borough-by-borough approach to improving bus service also includes street redesigns, more bus lanes, Select Bus Service route upgrades and a push for all-door boarding and off-board fare collection.

Fighting for NYC in Albany

From fixing the subways and buses to speedy trials and bail reform, de Blasio vowed to fight for New York City as state lawmakers in Albany hash out the next fiscal budget ahead of the April 1 deadline.

"We have 80 days to show people that we can get this done," de Blasio said of fixing the MTA. "I don’t care if I have to pound on every door in Albany to get it done, I’ll be there."

Worker protections and benefits

The Department of Consumer Affairs will expand to include ensuring protections for the lowest-paid New Yorkers, de Blasio said. The department will be tasked with enforcing city laws, l such as for paid sick leave. 

Health Care for All

De Blasio reiterated his proposal, announced on Tuesday, to launch a new health care initiative aimed at serving 600,000 city residents who do not have insurance.

Paid personal time

On Wednesday. the mayor unveiled his proposal to mandate paid personal time for workers and he recapped the plan during his State of the City address. De Blasio said he  would pursue legislation in the City Council  to require private businesses with five or more employees to offer 10 days of paid personal time.

Marijuana

Legalizing adult use of marijuana may be a state issue, but de Blasio waded into the debate during his address, saying he would work with lawmakers to make sure arrest records are expunged and that "grassroots" companies run New York's cannabis industry – not big corporations.

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