Mayor de Blasio calls for second federal stimulus package to close nearly $4 billion budget gap

Mayor Bill de Blasio (Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)

Mayor Bill de Blasio called on Washington for a second stimulus package on Monday to help New York City keep a $3.8 million budget gap for the next fiscal year from growing. 

Amid a bleak financial future due to the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor de Blasio and the New York City Council passed the austere fiscal year 2021 budget of $88.1 billion in June, nearly $5 billion less than what the city approved last year. 

Budget negotiations over the spring and early summer were exceptionally tense. Pandemic restrictions on movement and businesses dug the city into a $9 billion budget hole, $7.4 billion on which Mayor de Blasio was able to cover through spending cuts. But he still needed to find another  $1 billion in savings ahead of the budget deadline. 

In addition, as New Yorkers protested the killing of Minneapolis man George Floyd a new budget priority emerged–a slashing of the NYPD’s $6 billion operating budget by $1 billion and a reallocation of those funds to youth and community services.  Mayor de Blasio and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson both agreed to pass a budget with the requested decrease in police funding and claimed they did so while critics said the city used some fuzzy math. 

A report from the city’s Independent Budget Office argues that in reality only $420 million was cut from the NYPD operating budget with the bulk of budget savings coming from the cancellation of a police academy class, capping overtime spending and a spike in officer retirements. 

Since then, the city’s budget has grown. Federal aid has raised the fiscal year 2021 budget to $92 billion, Mayor de Blasio said Monday. He attributed the $3.81 million jump in large part to Washington’s first stimulus package. In the spring, the city received $40 billion in federal funds from individual stimulus checks, unemployment benefits and Paycheck Protection Loans for small businesses, according to the New York City Office of Management and Budget. 

De Blasio also attributed some of the city’s ability to survive throughout the pandemic to direct grants to city agencies and FEMA aid. 

The funds illustrate just how urgently the city is in need of more stimulus help, de Blasio said. Without a second round of aid the city would fall into “dire, dire shape” and officials may have to pass a series of deeper cuts to carry the city into next year including municipal layoffs.

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