“I’ve always said that budgets are about values and the kind of city we want to be. Our Preliminary Budget is fiscally responsible, progressive, and honest, building on last year’s strong foundation. We are guarding against the real risks ahead and making targeted investments that will protect New Yorkers, expand opportunity, and help create a stronger, safer, and fairer New York City.” – Mayor Bill de Blasio
Today, Mayor Bill de Blasio presented New York City’s Preliminary Budget for Fiscal Year 2016, building on last year’s strong foundation and reflecting the administration’s commitment to a fiscally responsible, progressive and honest budget process.
The Mayor’s preliminary budget—totaling $77.7 billion—takes a cautious approach, targeting investments and guarding against risks. Despite another year of economic growth, risks and challenges remain—and that is why the administration has focused on targeted investments that will create a stronger, safer, and fairer New York City by enhancing public safety and expanding opportunity for all New Yorkers.
ECONOMIC OVERVIEW AND THE RISKS AHEAD
The national economy continues to grow at a moderate pace, with Gross Domestic Product projected to grow 3 percent and the economy adding 2.8 million jobs this year. New York City’s economic production remains strong, and its employment growth continues to outpace the nation.
However, it’s very clear that those benefits have not been shared by all, with far too many in New York City and across the country struggling, and income inequality continuing to grow. Most job growth continues to come from low-wage sectors, while the share of New York City households making moderate or middle income has steadily declined in recent years to approximately 25 percent.
The City also faces significant uncertainties this year with federal and state aid. With changes in Congress, partisan gridlock, and expiring programs, the City is at risk of losing vital funding, and, with the potential for another sequestration looming, it seems unlikely that the Republican Congress will adopt the President’s proposed offsets. On the state level, funding continues to fall short of the State’s obligations, with a $2.6 billion shortfall in education aid in FY16 despite the Campaign for Fiscal Equity settlement, and a $15.2 billion gap in the MTA Capital Plan.
With the current economic expansion already exceeding the average length of post-war expansions, and the potential for unexpected events, it’s important to note that tax revenues and other funding have both declined during past downturns.
A RESPONSIBLE BUDGET
With those challenges in mind, the de Blasio administration’s FY 2016 Preliminary Budget is a fiscally responsible plan that takes a cautious approach, targeting investments to key programs that will create a stronger, safer and fairer New York City.
Last year, every independent monitor and rating agency affirmed fiscal responsibility as a foundation of this administration.
This year, the administration is building on that strong foundation. The FY2016 Preliminary Budget is balanced as a result of the administration closing a $1.8 billion deficit, while maintaining a balanced budget in FY2015, boosting reserves at a rate of $750 million a year through the out years, and further reducing out year budget deficits.
When Mayor de Blasio took office on January 1, 2014, all of the City’s labor contracts were expired. Since then, the City has settled 71 percent of the expired contracts by reaching fiscally responsible settlements with both civilian and uniformed employees, while securing $3.4 billion in unprecedented, guaranteed healthcare savings geared toward bending the cost curve.
TARGETED SPENDING TO PROTECT NEW YORKERS AND EXPAND OPPORTUNITY
Keeping New Yorkers Safe
Mayor de Blasio’s Preliminary Budget includes real investment in public safety, such as:
· $11.3 million a year to add 45 new ambulance tours and $6.7 million a year to add 149 new EMS dispatchers, aimed at improving emergency response times.
· $7.3 million in FY2015 and $4.2 million in FY2016 to replace all NYPD bullet-resistant vests over five years old.
· $10 million to expand the Police Cadet Program to nearly 600 cadets, putting them on the pathway to education and careers.
· $3.2 million to enhance how the Law Department handles frivolous lawsuits against police officers.
· $35.5 million to reduce use-of-force incidents and violence and $3.6 million to improve applicant vetting and recruitment at the Department of Correction.
Investing in Education
The Preliminary Budget moves forward the Mayor’s education priorities, including:
· $340 million for high-quality, full-day universal pre-K for all four-year-olds, building on this year’s success.
· $190 million to expand after-school programs to over 100,000 middle school students.
· Funding for 128 Community Schools, including the transformation of 94 renewal schools.
· Key reforms that were codified in the UFT contract, including $4.9 million to provide 594 Model and Master teacher positions.
· $0.7 million a year for Literacy Intervention Teams to support students with dyslexia.
· $0.8 million a year to provide language services for limited-English proficient parents.
· $29 million to expand academic intervention and support for STEM at community colleges.
· $300,000 to complement a recent $859,000 federal grant for the NYSolar Smart Initiative at CUNY, part of the administration’s sustainability and resiliency agenda.
· $1.1 million to expand the Fatherhood Academy at CUNY, helping fathers ages 18 through 24 improve their job and education prospects as part of the Young Men’s Initiative.
Protecting the Most Vulnerable
The budget also makes key investments to protect New York City’s most vulnerable populations, including children, the homeless, and immigrants:
· Major investments to address the homelessness crisis, including:
o $28.4 million for rental assistance and support to move homeless New Yorkers out of shelter.
o $8.6 million for prevention programs and support services to keep New Yorkers stably housed.
o $4.3 million for the PATH Community-Based Demonstration Project to improve family services like counseling and eviction prevention.
o $0.9 million to expand drop-in center access to street homeless can access vital services.
· $11 million next year—and over $26 million total over the next three years—for Administration for Children’s Services child welfare reforms, including training and prevention.
· $16.5 million over the next three years to expand community health centers in underserved neighborhoods.
· $1.8 million to improve children’s health, including a child health survey and a campaign to promote reading.
· $5 million to increase staffing for ID NYC, to address high demand.
Supporting Economic Development
The Mayor’s Preliminary Budget supports small businesses and job creation, including with:
· Tax reform that streamlines and modernizes the tax code to reduce the burden on NYC businesses and provide relief to up to 45,000 small businesses and manufacturers. The reform is revenue neutral for the City.
· $1.4 million a year to expand access for small businesses to the City’s MWBE program, including technical assistance, to make City contracting more inclusive.
· $4.6 million to improve service at the Department of Buildings, to speed up inspections and cut bureaucracy for small businesses.