Mayor Bill de Blasio preaches “fiscal caution,” but he still expanded the city budget to $92.5 billion on Thursday — up $300 million from his preliminary plan in February.
“This budget, you will see, is for a new era that we’re entering into where we will focus on fiscal caution,” de Blasio said at a City Hall press conference, touting $916 million in savings extracted from city agencies over two years.
A leading government watchdog warned the new budget, which covers the fiscal year starting July 1, will prove problematic if the economy tanks.
“Mayor de Blasio’s stay-the-course budget does not take the steps needed to preserve services or forestall tax increases in the eventual hard times,” said Andrew Rein, president of the Citizens Budget Commission.
“The highly anticipated [agency cuts] provides savings, but fails to deliver resources needed to address any upcoming downturn.”
The city maintains a $1.25 billion “rainy day” fund.
But Rein said while that exceeds mandates, it “pales in comparison” to what’s required during a recession.
The Department of Education took the biggest hit in the round of agency cuts with a $104 million reduction to personnel and extended learning time at high-needs schools.
The budget ax also is falling on ThriveNYC, the $250 million-a-year mental health program overseen by the mayor’s wife.
De Blasio said it will be cut by $9 million this fiscal year and an unspecified amount in the following year.
“In most cases, the results have been positive,” said the mayor. “In a couple of cases, less so …”
He singled out Mental Health Service Corps, where “the specific outcomes did not match the expectations.”
Critics — including city Comptroller Scott Stringer — have questioned the entire program’s effectiveness and spending practices.
In other actions:
- $8.7 billion in capital funds was allocated to close Rikers Island by 2026, a year ahead of the previous schedule.
- The mayor said the city has spent $1.2 million to battle the measles outbreak centered in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn.
- $22 million was set aside to ensure a “fair count” of city residents in the 2020 census.
- $60 million went to make city buildings more energy efficient.
The mayor also detailed the city’s 10-year capital budget, increasing spending to $116.9 billion from $104.1 billion planned in February.
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