DeBlasio and Council, Facing Fiscal Crisis Over Virus, Agree on Budget With Big Cuts
Bowing to political stress and a bleak fiscal actuality that evoked municipal crises of many years previous, New York City officers on Monday agreed to an austerity price range that features drastic cuts to metropolis providers and a $1 billion shift of assets out of the New York Police Department.
New York, like the remainder of the nation, was pressured to lock down its economic system to restrict the results of the coronavirus pandemic, which has taken 22,000 lives within the metropolis. The shutdown helped management the unfold of the virus, nevertheless it additionally created a $9 billion income shortfall that may have a pointy impression on New Yorkers’ lives.
Mayor Bill de Blasio had already shrunk estimated spending by $7.four billion earlier this 12 months, however wanted to seek out one other $1 billion in financial savings earlier than town’s July 1 price range deadline for the approaching fiscal 12 months. The gloomy $87 billion price range is sort of $6 billion lower than the one town permitted final 12 months.
At the identical time, one other budgetary precedence emerged from the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, as calls to defund the Police Department grew in New York. That effort got here to incorporate Mr. de Blasio’s negotiating accomplice, the Council speaker, Corey Johnson, who earlier this month embraced activists’ calls to chop $1 billion from the division’s $6 billion working price range.
The mayor and the City Council agreed on Monday to achieve that $1 billion in cuts by, amongst different issues, canceling the deliberate hiring of 1,163 law enforcement officials.
But barely lower than half of the $1 billion in cuts will come from a budgetary sleight of hand: School security officers, who’re at present beneath the auspices of the Police Department, will probably be moved to the authority of the Department of Education, in keeping with three Council members conversant in the plan.
Mr. de Blasio nonetheless believes town wants to seek out $1 billion in labor financial savings or face 22,000 layoffs, until the federal authorities comes by with assist or the state grants town borrowing authority, in keeping with Mr. de Blasio’s spokeswoman, Freddi Goldstein.
The price range is anticipated to be handed on Tuesday by the total 51-member City Council, though it’s anticipated to garner greater than a dozen “no” votes, cut up between Council members who oppose reducing police funding at a time when crime is rising and Council members who suppose the police cuts don’t go far sufficient.
Councilman Ben Kallos, a Democrat who represents the Upper East Side, mentioned he deliberate to vote no on the price range, partly as a result of he mentioned the police cuts had been inadequate.
“It is worse than it was before,” Mr. Kallos mentioned in an interview.
“We are not seeing a meaningful reduction in head count and the changes that people are literally marching in the streets for,” he mentioned. “I don’t think anyone marching for Black Lives Matter is doing it to see school safety agents moved from the N.Y.P.D. budget to the schools budget.”
Councilman Brad Lander, a Brooklyn Democrat, mentioned he would additionally vote towards the price range as a result of he mentioned the modifications to Police Department funding weren’t “real meaningful cuts.” Among different issues, he’s skeptical that the Police Department will really obtain $350 million in extra time discount prices, as town argued would occur.
The redistribution of Police Department assets to different departments achieves political and probably coverage ends, however will do little to shut town’s yawning price range hole.
To shut that hole, town will demand across-the-board financial savings from metropolis businesses, and slash providers that metropolis residents have come to rely on, comparable to eliminating the residential composting program and closing metropolis swimming pools for the summer season.
Trash pickups will probably be lowered, and in a single day service on the Staten Island Ferry will probably be curtailed. Fewer police visitors brokers will probably be deployed at intersections, and tree pruning and tree stump elimination will probably be much less frequent.
And for the first time in his tenure, the mayor drew down on town’s reserves, tapping $four billion in financial savings to assist steadiness the price range, a lot of it from the retiree well being advantages fund, a transfer that doesn’t have an effect on retiree advantages within the quick time period.
But the price range is anticipated to revive greater than $100 million in funding for youth packages that had been minimize beneath the mayor’s govt price range, in keeping with a City Council member. Ms. Goldstein, the mayor’s spokeswoman, declined to verify that quantity.
“The mayor had two goals for this budget: maintain safety and invest in youth and our hardest-hit communities — all while facing the toughest fiscal situation the city has seen in decades,” Ms. Goldstein mentioned. “We believe we presented a plan that accomplishes that mission and look forward to working with the Council to pass a budget that helps this city rebuild stronger.”
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the State Legislature have declined to provide New York City the authority to borrow cash to pay for working prices, although the state has granted that authority to the state’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and to itself.
“The New York City bond ratings went up in the last 12 months, for God sakes, this is not the 1970s,” the mayor mentioned on Monday, shortly earlier than Mr. Cuomo invoked the 1970s as a rationale for why he was reluctant to grant the borrowing authority to New York City.
Mr. de Blasio has not offered an in depth sufficient plan about how he would use the borrowed cash, mentioned Mike Murphy, a spokesman for the Democratic majority within the State Senate. After talking with Senate Democrats on Monday, Scott M. Stringer, town comptroller and a 2021 mayoral candidate, agreed.
“The mayor has requested $7 billion and now $5 billion in borrowing authority without providing data or rationale,” Mr. Stringer mentioned in a press release. “Our children do not owe the mayor a blank check.”
The metropolis’s price range has grown drastically beneath Mr. de Blasio — from roughly $73 billion in 2014 to $92 billion in 2019.
Budget hawks on the Citizens Budget Commission, a nonpartisan civic group, have argued that Mr. de Blasio is ignoring different levers at his disposal which are politically troublesome to tug however that preclude burdening future generations with having to repay long-term debt.
In addition to the potential layoffs, the mayor may minimize some 9,000 jobs by attrition from town’s work drive of almost 330,000, whose head depend has expanded some 30,000 since Mr. de Blasio took workplace. He may additionally negotiate with labor to require extra staff to contribute to their well being care premiums.
“The longer we sit around and bow to the altar of borrowing or federal aid, the less we actually try to solve the problems,” mentioned Andrew Rein, the Citizens Budget Commission’s president. “All the risk is on the downside. The chance that it gets worse is high.”
Budget specialists anticipate the financial state of affairs to markedly worsen within the 2022 fiscal 12 months, partly due to town’s diminishing reserves. Based on the mayor’s final price range plan, the Independent Budget Office estimates that town will face a $6 billion shortfall subsequent 12 months.
The metropolis has additionally taken hits from the lack of state assist and Mr. Cuomo’s profitable efforts to shift state prices to town, comparable to Metropolitan Transportation Authority capital funding.