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Christine Quinn delivers state of the city speech

February 10, 2012 6:11:21 AM PST
The New York City Council will make it illegal for city employers to refuse to hire applicants because they are out of work, Speaker Christine Quinn said Thursday in her State of the City speech.

"Some companies say this is their policy. I say it's discrimination, plain and simple," she said as she announced the measure, which echoes bills already being considered at the state and federal level. The proposal must still wend its way through the city's legislative process.

Quinn's speech, delivered in a more measured and formal style than she often adopts, comes as she and other Democratic candidates are positioning themselves for the 2013 mayor's race. The speaker has been walking a tricky line, staking out policy positions that distance her from Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent Mayor Michael Bloomberg while still retaining his support.

Under Quinn's proposals announced in Thursday's speech:
- The city would use federal tax credits to help small businesses make new hires in neighborhoods with high unemployment, while the council will work with the website Kickstarter to spotlight community projects and businesses in need of funding in those same areas.

- The council will support a pilot program bringing together teachers, officials and community organizations to help them coordinate efforts to support city children as they grow up, with the hopes of expanding the effort throughout the city.

- Quinn would work with the state Legislature to get a law passed allowing New York City to make kindergarten mandatory for all city 5-year-olds.

- The city would create a low-cost loan program that would cover as much as half the cost of child care for families making between $40,000 and $112,000 per year.

- The city would give homeless families priority on the waiting list for public housing. The council would create a rental assistance program for homeless families, replacing the one that was canceled by the city last year following the loss of state and federal funding.

- The council would pass a law requiring landlords to fix the underlying problems causing leaks and other apartment damage, instead of just making temporary fixes.

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