Today, Mayor Bill de Blasio will issue the preliminary New York City Budget for FY 2015, a fiscally responsible plan that reflects the mayor’s core values, and represents the first step in charting a new course forward for New York City.
The preliminary budget was crafted with three imperatives in mind: responsibility, progressiveness and honesty.
The preliminary budget is the initial plan to meet the short-term and long-term fiscal risks facing the city in the years to come – including the structural deficit left by the previous administration, and the more than 150 labor contracts left unresolved. Combined, these pressures have presented the city with unprecedented fiscal challenges.
The de Blasio administration will invest in critical priorities for New York City’s future – such as universal, full-day pre-kindergarten for tens of thousands of 4-year-olds; an inspector general for the NYPD; enforcement of the paid sick leave act; NYCHA payment relief, so more money can be invested in housing repair and maintenance; expanded services for homeless youth; and capped rent contribution for HIV/AIDS clients.
The de Blasio administration will be honest about its priorities, and begin to end games like the “budget dance” by restoring unnecessary cuts made by the last administration that are not in line with the mayor’s agenda. This includes restoring 20 FDNY companies targeted in past budgets for elimination.
The United States economy is growing at a moderate pace, and the city is growing along with it. Our local residential real estate market continues to recover, and the local commercial real estate market remains strong. But despite this growth, affordability remains a problem, and income inequality in New York City is higher than in the U.S. overall, and the local unemployment rate is significantly higher than the national rate. Employment growth in the city is highest among our lowest-paying sectors.
A RESPONSIBLE BUDGET
The de Blasio administration’s FY 2015 preliminary budget is a fiscally-responsible document that begins to put New York City’s financial house back in order.
Ø The Structural Deficit: The budget for the current year, FY 2014, remains balanced by relying on $1 billion from the prior year. The FY 2015 plan right now relies on $1.8 billion of resources from the prior year for balance. The city is already facing a deficit of $1.1 billion for FY 2016.
Ø Maintaining the Retiree Health Benefits Trust Fund: The Retiree Health Benefits Trust Fund pays for the cost of retiree health benefits for city workers, including health insurance, welfare funds, and Medicare Part B reimbursements. The previous plan drained $1 billion from the Trust; the de Blasio preliminary budget restores that funding to the Trust for this long-term obligation.
Ø Ensuring DSNY has the Resources it Needs: An unusually heavy snow season this year means reorganizing the budget so the sanitation department has all the resources it needs to ensure the city’s streets remain clear and safe throughout the winter. The previous plan budgeted $57 million for the sanitation department to respond to snow and winter storms, and the de Blasio administration has increased that allocation by $35 million – covering costs to date, as well as expected costs for the rest of the season.
Ø Increasing School Aid from the State: New York State has not kept up with its obligations to fund New York City schools. In FY 2015, there will be a $2.7 billion gap between the current level of state aid and the funding levels agreed-upon following the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit. In this preliminary budget, the de Blasio administration is asking the state for an additional $500 million to fund improvements to New York City public schools. The resources will help reduce class size and provide additional teacher supports in early grades; strengthen elementary Common Core academic intervention; and increase funding equity across schools, so students are treated more fairly.
A PROGRESSIVE BUDGET THAT REFLECTS OUR VALUES
The preliminary budget begins to implement Mayor de Blasio’s progressive agenda. Beyond his pre-K and after-school programs, which are funded through a dedicated tax, the plan proposes just $14 million in new initiatives in FY 2014 and $26 million in FY 2015, including the following:
Ø Implementing Mayor de Blasio’s Universal Pre-Kindergarten and After-School Expansion Program: The centerpiece of the administration’s budget agenda is education, specifically universal pre-kindergarten and expanded after-school programs. These investments will be transformational in improving achievement and boosting economic opportunities for every New Yorker—in every borough—and providing a long-term strategy in the fight against income inequality.
The FY 2015 preliminary budget includes an additional $530 million in revenue from a .0534 percent increase in the personal income tax rate for households earning more than $500,000 per year. This revenue will be solely dedicated to funding full-day universal pre-kindergarten and after-school programs beginning in FY 2015. More than 95 percent of the increased personal income tax revenue will be paid by taxpayers with annual incomes greater than $1 million. On the expense side, the preliminary budget provides $530 million for universal pre-kindergarten and after-school programs.
Ø Creating an Independent NYPD Inspector General: The preliminary budget features initial funding in FY 2014, growing to $3 million in FY 2015 to set up an independent inspector general at the NYPD. This new office will help bring police and the community together by overseeing department policies and procedures, such as stop-and-frisk.
Ø Implementing the Paid Sick Leave Act: The preliminary budget includes $4.8 million in FY 2014 and an ongoing $1.8 million FY 2015 for the Department of Consumer Affairs to ensure that additional working New Yorkers benefit from the protections provided in the paid sick leave bill.
Ø Redirecting Resources into NYCHA Repair and Maintenance: NYCHA has been paying the NYPD approximately $70 million annually for police services at NYCHA facilities. The preliminary budget relieves NYCHA of the remaining $52.5 million that would otherwise be owed to the NYPD in FY 2014, so more money can be steered to service outstanding work orders on the NYCHA repair docket. In order to keep the NYPD budget whole, the preliminary budget also provides the NYPD with an additional $52.5 million in city funds.
Ø Bolstering Homeless Services: The preliminary budget directs $1.3 million in FY 2014 and $2.4 million in FY 2015 to add 76 shelter beds for the city’s homeless and runaway youth. Services include emergency housing, food, clothing, individual and group housing, and limited transportation services. The preliminary budget also directs $1.3 million in FY14 to improve security and programming at the Auburn and Catherine Street Shelters. In addition, the preliminary budget restores $9.3 million in FY 2014 and $19.1 million FY 2015 that was cut in the previous administration’s November modification plan. This funding means that families that don’t know each other won’t be forced to live together in a shared apartment.
Ø Providing HASA Rent Cap for HIV/AIDS Housing Clients: The preliminary budget directs $4.3 million in FY 2014 and $17.4 FY 2015 to cap the rent contribution for HIV/AIDS housing clients at 30 percent.
Ø Improving Access to Mental Health Services: The preliminary budget restores $4.1 million in FY 2014 and $4.8 million in FY 2015 of funding cut in the previous administration’s November modification plan that supported community-based mental health providers and immunization clinics.
A MORE HONEST BUDGET
The administration is enacting honest budget reform in its first budget by beginning to end games and gimmicks, like the “budget dance.”
Ø Restoring $59 million to support the 20 fire companies that were previously cut from the FY 2015 budget.
Ø Restoring $10 million of funding for the five borough presidents and the public advocate.