- New York 05/09/2014 by Linda Perry (WBAI)
Bill de Blasio presented his first executive budget at City Hall on Thursday. It’s a $73.9 billion budget for fiscal year 2015.
As he took office more than 150 labor contracts were expired. But after the $5.5 billion tentative agreement with teachers reached last week, de Blasio said the administration is able to project a real budget.
"We know – I always qualify that there’s a lot of steps ahead, but we also know in the history of New York City labor relations that the first major agreement has generally set the pattern for later ones. So we believe that this agreement is a very, very promising start."
The Mayor said the administration very proud of the UFT contract pending ratification
"The contract achieved a number of things that had been deemed nearly impossible by various pundits – obviously resolving a host of past issues, making sure that we had an affordable plan going forward."
It’s uncertainty that causes problems according to the mayor, and the contract deal with the teacher’s creates certainty.
"The rating agency Moody’s noted in its analysis of the labor deal that, if approved, it would mean, 'Resolution of a longstanding budgetary risk for the city.' It’s the simplest way to put it from one of the entities that watches our finances closely. This resolves something that was outstanding, that was creating a deep uncertainty. We’re proud to now be moving in the right direction."
Underlying the budget is a focus on creating more economic opportunity. Small business owners have long complained about punitive summonses and fees.
"A number of you know that I, for years, including in my time as Public Advocate, pushed for a change in our small business policies. I thought the punitive, arbitrary approach to fines, the revenue-focused approach, was really undermining small business and the ability of small business to create jobs. We are making big changes."
Fines will be decreased by 8 percent. That’s less arbitrary fines, health department fines and less consumer affairs fines for small businesses.
"And, this is about stabilizing small business and helping small business to create more jobs. As I said, so much of what we're doing has a job creation element – affordable housing plan has a job creation element, Sandy relief and resiliency has a job creation element – all these pieces come together. The paid sick leave law, we are convinced, is actually going to strengthen our small businesses by creating a healthier workforce, more productivity."
The Mayor said he would work to make sure arts education is in all of the public schools. This follows a report from the Comptroller’s office on how lacking art education is in schools in poorer neighborhoods.
The condition of New York City's roads and bridges are a focus of the mayor's budget proposal. The executive budget increases the city's road resurfacing investment by $49 million. It totals $226 million for fiscal year 2015. Another $346 million would be allotted for bridge maintenance.
The Mayor wants to invest $41 billion over 10 years to build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing and he's adding $70 million to the housing authority's repair budget and increasing services for the homeless, whose numbers expanded under Bloomberg.
Next week the city council begins deliberations on the budget. The final budget is due july 1.