No mention about job creation
Andrew J. Hawkins
May 8, 2014 1:48 p.m.
Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled his $73.9 billion budget plan Thursday, including a projected 10% raise for the city’s workforce over the next seven years and an 8% decrease in small-business fines.
Mr. de Blasio described his budget as both progressive and “fiscally prudent,” a stance that he said would allow his administration to spend on programs that serve his liberal agenda of more affordable housing and expanded prekindergarten, among other programs.
“This is a cautious document on purpose,” Mr. de Blasio said at the end of his hour-long budget presentation at City Hall, adding that his budget takes “a careful stance to protect against future disruptions,” such as another economic downturn.
But one major business group intimated that the spending plan is more aggressive than cautious.
“The executive budget lays out aggressive commitments to housing, education and labor contracts that will require maintaining economic growth at an annual rate of at least 3%,” said Kathryn Wylde, president and CEO of the Partnership for New York City. “This can be achieved, but it will require close cooperation between City Hall and the business community.”
The budget also contains more details about the contract agreement the city reached with the United Federation of Teachers last week, as well as how much the administration estimates it will cost to settle the remaining labor contracts. The mayor expects to take on $13.4 billion in new costs from labor contracts, but expects to offset all but $5.5 billion of that through health care savings and other measures.
The savings will be achieved in several ways: $3.4 billion will come from as-of-yet undetermined health care cost-cutting that Mr. de Blasio says is “guaranteed” to happen, $1 billion from a health “stabilization fund” that is controlled jointly by the Municipal Labor Council and City Hall, and $3.5 billion from a “labor reserve” fund.
In a statement, Harry Nespoli, president of the Municipal Labor Council, an umbrella group of city unions, said Mr. de Blasio’s budget will “provide a sound financial basis for the city to move forward.”
Mr. de Blasio promised a big reduction in fines handed out to restaurants and other small businesses, projecting an 8% decrease in the expected revenue to $789 million in fiscal year 2015, from $859 million in fiscal 2012. The reduction will help “stabilize” small businesses and allow them to create more jobs, the mayor said.
There was also significant funding allocated to Mr. de Blasio’s “Vision Zero” traffic safety plan. The mayor is proposing to spend $28.8 million on speed humps, red-light cameras and intersection redesigns.
The city will increase its borrowing to help pay for Mr. de Blasio’s plan to build and preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing. The four-year capital plan for the years 2014-2018 totals $48.9 billion. (The city will present a 10-year capital plan next January.)
Now that he’s released his budget, Mr. de Blasio will enter into negotiations with the City Council. Several items sought by the council, such as hiring an additional 1,000 police officers and waiving school lunch fees for all students, were not included in the mayor’s budget, setting the stage for negotiations with the council. The mayor said he supports the idea of free lunch but adopting such a policy would result in a substantial loss of federal funding.
A spending plan for the year beginning July 1 must be adopted by the end of June.
Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito largely praised the budget plan, but criticized it for lacking transparency.
“We are disappointed to see that while the executive budget addresses skyrocketing overtime costs for the NYPD, it does not include funding to hire the additional 1,000 police officers needed to reduce understaffing at city precincts and provide support for Vision Zero,” she said in a statement.
Mr. de Blasio answered a question about transparency by noting that he is still negotiating the budget with the City Council.