De Blasio administration unveils $73.9 billion budget
Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration Thursday unveiled a $73.9 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year -- and for the first time put a dollar figure on how much the city expects replacing the 150-plus expired labor contracts to cost taxpayers: $17.75 billion.
Unveiling a 2015 budget he called "responsible," "progressive" and "honest," the mayor proposed no significant cuts to city services and no property tax increases. It would increase, by about $2.1 billion, year-over-year spending, administration officials said.
De Blasio's budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 includes state money for his signature campaign pledge -- about $300 million for universal prekindergarten and about $145 million for after-school programs for middle schoolers -- as well as more expenditures for road paving, snow plowing, the City University of New York and homeless youth.
"There are some -- I've met them over the years -- who have trouble equating fiscal responsibility with progressive values," de Blasio said. "I think the two must go hand in hand."
The $17.75 billion labor cost -- through 2021, when the last of retroactive raises will be paid -- assumes that every union accepts a deal patterned after the recently negotiated United Federation of Teachers contract, which is still to be ratified. Administration officials said that the cost would be partly offset by at least $8 billion in expected health care savings. The city expects the other unions to agree to similar terms.
The budget anticipates a decrease of roughly 8 percent -- to $789 million of what he called "arbitrary and overly punitive" fines against small businesses. As a mayoral candidate and in his previous job as public advocate, de Blasio railed against what he considered excessive fines the city levied for petty infractions.
The mayor conceded there is a $2 billion structural deficit going forward. He said the city is in a "strong position, but we know we have real work to do to close those deficits going forward."
De Blasio's budget rejected major ideas from the City Council's counterproposal released last month, including supplying every schoolchild -- poor or not -- with a free lunch and adding 1,000 more police officers.
"I, again, I know that's a heartfelt request on their part, but the fact is, that thank God the NYPD is achieving what it is achieving with the resources it has now," de Blasio said.
Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson (D-Bronx), the chairwoman of the Public Safety Committee, said she remains "hopeful" that negotiations to reconcile the mayor's proposal with the council's would yield the additional officers.
The law requires that the city adopt a balanced budget. Over the next two months, the council and the mayor must hammer out a final budget agreement.