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Four Mayoral Hopefuls Weigh In On Storm Preparedness, Fiscal Cliff In Panel Discussion

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - There was plenty of agreement about the future path for New York City among four likely Democratic mayoral hopefuls during a panel discussion hosted by Crain's New York on Wednesday.

The event, held at the Times Square Sheraton, was titled Future of New York City: The Agenda for the Next Mayor.

WCBS 880's Rich Lamb reports


Former New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson, the only announced Democratic candidate for mayor, was joined on the panel by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, current comptroller John Liu and public advocate Bill de Blasio.

Before a well-heeled crowd, de Blasio called for higher taxes on the very wealthy.

"With absolute respect for those who have done well, I propose a tax on those who make $500,000 or more for the next five years," he said.

De Blasio said the tax revenue would help early childhood education.

The mayoral wannabes were asked a range of questions regarding the future of the city, including how to prepare for the next superstorm.

"We need to come up with more extended bluebelts, better use of marshing...better use of jetties - a real five borough plan," Quinn said.

1010 WINS' Stan Brooks reports


Thompson endorsed the idea of ushering in a new Marshall Plan to rebuild a smarter and better city, 1010 WINS' Stan Brooks reported.

Liu said there should be greater development of the city's rivers and waterways, while de Blasio said the city would be well-served by a better evacuation plan.

All four candidates also agreed that helping small businesses in the city should be a major goal for the next mayor.

Thompson said not enough assistance is provided now.

"If you talk to small businesses in the city of New York, they'll tell you that government works against them, that government slows them down, that government in fines and fees and penalties and taxes work against them. And we have to change that," he said.

The hopefuls also voiced concern over what the impact may be if the federal government goes over the so-called "fiscal cliff."

That refers to a series of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts that would take effect on Jan. 1 if Congress fails to reach agreement on a series of expiring provisions.

The cuts may include mortgage and other deductions.

"Even if the best case scenario happens with the fiscal cliff, New York City will be getting less money from the federal government. Minimally, over the next decade, we'll get a billion and a half less and that's optimistic," Quinn said. "A middle-class family of four sees deduction changes go through, could see a tax increase of over $2,000 a year. That is real money that will come out of family's pocketbooks."

The four looking to replace Mayor Michael Bloomberg said New York is often overlooked by the feds.

"Nowhere in this country would any locality be hurt more than New York if local and state taxes were no longer deductible. I would say the same about charitable donations," de Blasio said.

The discussion was put on by Crain's New York Business and Partnership for New York City for the Future of New York City Conference.

Who do you support in the New York City mayoral race? Sound off in the comments section below...

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