Mayor de Blasio is proposing to frontload a great deal of the federal bailout money in his request for the largest budget in city history.
The mayor on Monday submitted a $98.6 billion request for the budget taking effect on July 1, which would be an increase of $10.4 billion over the present fiscal year.
It is not only higher than the $92 billion he proposed in his executive budget back in January, but also in excess of the $97 billion he was forecasting back in November.
Credit — or blame — the Biden administration, which last month gave the city $15 billion in pandemic relief.
“A recovery for all of us starts by investing in working families across New York City,” de Blasio said, according to a transcript provided by his office. “The pandemic hit us hard but together we will fight back and drive a recovery in every neighborhood. We are meeting the moment with direct investments in education, small businesses, open space and public health, and we are building up reserves to continue our strong fiscal foundation for the future. With the Recovery Budget, New York City will emerge from this challenge stronger, fairer, cleaner, greener and safer than ever.”
Among the new education expenditures would be $377 million for universal 3-K for All and $200 million for Summer Rising, an academic and recreational program for 190,000 students.
The budget proposes $122 million for EMS and social worker teams to respond to nonviolent mental health calls rather than the NYPD. It calls for nearly $50 million for increased spending on seniors, including 25 new centers and $10 million added to programs at existing centers.
De Blasio’s plan also calls for $234 million to hire 10,000 people to clean up trash, litter and graffiti; and restores $9 million to the Sanitation Department for street litter basket collections.
It also calls for $100 million in small business rental assistance and grants and $30 million in low-interest small business loans; and $25 million to jump start tourism.
De Blasio’s proposal does not include the $1 billion in savings from organized labor that he boasted about back in January.
It also leaves the city with projected deficits of $3.9, $3.7 and $3.9 billion over the following three years — figures that would approach or exceed $5 billion should no long-term labor savings be found.
The proposal marks the formal start of annual negotiations with the City Council. In a statement from his office, Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan) praised the Biden administration for its assistance.
He said de Blasio’s proposal includes many of the Council’s priorities.
“However, more work remains to help our seniors, small businesses and cultural institutions, as well as to address issues like housing and homelessness,” Johnson said. “And the Council remains concerned about budget gaps in the outyears.”
Neither Johnson’s office nor de Blasio’s responded to direct questions from the Chronicle regarding any structural changes to the budget that would foster recurring savings down the road.
Andrew Rein, president of the Citizens Budget Commission, said in a press release that while there are some commendable expenditures, “the savings program is anemic, relying mostly on non-recurring savings that do nothing to increase efficiency.”
Rein praised the use of some federal aid to support one-time fiscal and programmatic needs, including academic recovery, Summer Rising and the emergency food program.
But he said another portion funds for only one year many programs that right now lack resources in the future, including the 3-K for All initiative.
“Instead, it needlessly leaves the next Mayor to solve significant fiscal problems tomorrow that this budget should have started to address today.”
De Blasio, at his press conference on Monday, said a strong financial comeback will put the city and the next administration on a stronger footing.
“This is a case where we have to take full advantage of this recovery moment,” de Blasio said. “We have to double down now and that’s going to give the next mayor and the next administration the best chance to move the city forward. So, there’s just — there’s nothing we should be hesitating on. This is an absolutely crucial moment.”