Bloomberg group dangles $9M for ways to aid city life

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg on "CBS This Morning" Wednesday
NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg on "CBS This Morning" Wednesday

(CBS News) New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is dipping into his own pocket to spur urban innovation, offering millions of dollars in prize money for the best ideas to make city life better.

Bloomberg Philanthropies is launching the "Mayors Challenge" Wednesday, which will award the city with the most innovative proposal $5 million. The next four in the competition would get $1 million each. Municipalities with populations of 30,000 or more are eligible to apply.

"The country is made up of cities," Bloomberg explained on "CBS This Morning." "More and more people living in cities. Estimate are 70 percent of the people will live in cities in a decade or so. Cities are where things happen

"Cities, who are all having economic problems, have to do things better, and cities are where mayors work day-in and day-out, and they know what works, what the people want. And so we're trying to find out what [are] the best ideas.

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"Each mayor can have a different idea that may be transferable to another city. We're all in this together. Hopefully, with this prize, people will focus on coming up with new, innovative ideas that improve efficiency, improve the services, make government more responsive."

Bloomberg said cities are "always in serious fiscal difficulty because people want services and don't want to pay for them. That's the nature of democracy. There's nothing wrong with that. That's a good discipline in many senses.

"They're [now] in an economic downturn, the business model of the cities is you have to provide more services when the economy goes down and your tax revenues, the ability to provide those services also goes down. Cities that are smart save money in the good times to use in the bad times. But we're all getting through this. If the cities really make the investment in the down times, they'll find that people come, their tax base grows and they'll be OK in the good times."