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Queens Chronicle

Mayor talks up his preliminary budget

Calls his spending plan both fiscally responsible, economically progressive

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Posted: Thursday, February 13, 2014 2:00 am | Updated: 11:24 am, Thu Feb 20, 2014.

Mayor de Blasio delivered his first preliminary budget on Wednesday with few surprises but far more detail than before on how he expects to pair his governing agenda with challenges that include uncertain state and federal economies and more than 150 unsettled municipal labor contracts.

“This is a progressive administration,” he said “Our budget will be a progressive budget, one that will put us on the road to giving hardworking New Yorkers a fair shot. There’s nothing mutually exclusive about being both fiscally responsible and economically progressive.”

The mayor said his executive budget in April is expected to come in at about $75 billion; the current one, crafted by former Mayor Bloomberg, is just under $70 billion.

The total includes $530 million that de Blasio is counting on in tax increases on wealthy residents to pay for his signature universal pre-K and afterschool programs.

He called education the centerpiece of his budget, saying it is needed to meet the future social and economic needs of the city and its residents.

The first step, he said, is restoring money to avoid what he called Bloomberg’s “annual Kabuki dance” that involved cutting things like 20 fire companies and borough presidents’ budgets.

“These things were miraculously restored at the end of the process,” he said. “We’re not playing that game anymore.”

He and staffers said the city is estimating more than $890 million in revenue than was forecast back in November. But they also said that the balanced budgets of the last two years have come with more than $1 billion in carryover money from previous surpluses.

He will cancel payments of more than $50 million from the New York City Housing Authority to the NYPD, but said the police will be made whole from other unspecified sources.

De Blasio said there would be “no new, broad-based cuts,” but declined to say yet where new money would come from.

He did say that between now and his executive budget in April, they will have a better picture of state and federal economic aid; and a better feel on how labor negotiations are going with the city’s 153 unions — all of whom are working without contracts.

“We will need savings and efficiencies — I’ve been open about this,” he said.

De Blasio did not directly answer what he would do if the state fails to approve the pre-K tax increase, saying the program is necessary and this his plan is the best one to get it going.

He dismissed a Quinnipiac poll that found Gov. Cuomo’s state-funded pre-K program to be more popular than his own.

“The Quinnipiac Poll was phrased in a way like asking people if they want a free bowl of candy — everyone’s going to say yes,” he said. “But the fact is you have to pay for it.”

The budget also includes money for the new NYPD inspector general, more money for NYCHA repairs and upgrades, and enforcement of the paid sick leave act.

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