Mayoral candidate Joe Lhota unveils jobs plan

Republican Mayoral candidate Joe Lhota speaks with the

Republican Mayoral candidate Joe Lhota speaks with the media after taking a walking tour along 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights, Queens. (Sept. 27, 2013) (Credit: Linda Rosier )

Republican mayoral nominee Joe Lhota unveiled a jobs plan Friday that includes cutting taxes, diversifying the city's economy and reducing fines on small businesses.

"I think New Yorkers need to have all kinds of opportunities," Lhota told reporters at a news conference in Jackson Heights, Queens, after an afternoon walking tour of small businesses along 37th Avenue.

In "Joe's Jobs Plan," Lhota said that the city is too reliant on the finance, insurance and real estate industries, which are subject to the vagaries of the economy. By diversifying into areas such as high-tech and bio-tech, the proposal said, "we can better balance and protect our fragile economy."

Included in his platform are plans to open a flagship CUNY hospitality industry school, lower travel and hotel taxes and review the city's property-tax assessment system. Lhota also criticized the method the city uses to fine small businesses, which entrepreneurs have long grumbled about.

"They look at small businesses like they're ATM machines," Lhota said.

Lhota said he would review the penalties businesses face and consider getting rid of those that do not protect consumers. He said he would recoup lost revenue by trimming waste in the budget.

Asked about Lhota's plan, Democratic candidate Bill de Blasio's spokesman, Dan Levitan, had no comment. However, he emailed a statement from a Latino group with the subject line: "Lhota No Friend to Small Business Owners." In that statement, the Make the Road Action Fund accused Lhota of having "turned his back" on small business owners during his stint as budget director in the Giuliani administration by supporting a bill to give city agencies power to levy fines and deny licenses.

"I have no recollection of that whatsoever," Lhota said. "It's inconsistent of where I've been my entire life."

During his Jackson Heights tour Friday, some people didn't immediately know who he was or that he was running for mayor.

Carlos Santiago, 24, of Astoria, who owns three area businesses including a livery service, escorted Lhota. Santiago said Lhota will help voters understand "that the Republican Party is not just a party for rich people, it's a party for small businesses."

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