- New York City 02/10/2015 by Linda Perry (WBAI)
"I actually think it is necessary to be fiscally cautious to guarantee that we can continue to apply our values on a consistent basis going forward."
Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled his preliminary budget for fiscal year 2016 at City Hall on Monday. Listing concerning statistics he said 46% of New Yorkers are at or near the poverty level. Over one million in the city are receiving food stamps and are having a hard time making ends meet. This includes more than 640,000 children. Since 2002, the number has doubled. While he sees job growth, de Blasio said 65% of the growth is the in low wage sector.
The Mayor voiced uncertainty regarding state and federal monies coming to the city. "So there's some signs here that we have to be very sober about, and that is reflected in our budget process. Now, the economic realities are one thing, and then there's the reality of what happens at other levels of government. And there are some real uncertainties, both on the federal and state front, that we take very seriously." De Blasio said with changes in Congress, partisan gridlock, and expiring programs, New York City is at risk of losing vital funding.
In all, Mayor de Blasio proposed a $77.7 billion budget, closing a $1.8 billion deficit, with a reserve $750 million per year through fiscal 2019. The budget reflects a relatively strong local economy without major spending cuts. Funds are going into new bullet proof vests for the NYPD, upgrading police facilities, expanding the police cadet program and improving the Corrections department.
And the city is beefing up the Administration for Children's Services. "There were real reforms after the death of Elisa Izquierdo. There were real reforms after the death of Nixzmary Brown. There were real reforms after the death of Marchella Pierce. But that doesn't mean everything was done that could be done, realistically. And so, we looked at some areas that structurally needed to be different." The city is putting $11 million next year—and over $26 million total over the next three years—into Administration for Children’s Services child welfare reforms, including training and prevention.
The city also plans to improve EMS and Ambulance response times, $11.3 million a year to add 45 new ambulance tours and $6.7 million a year to add 149 new EMS dispatchers. The hope is to bring down the city’s response time which averages now to about 6 minutes and 50 seconds.
Unquestionably one of de Blasio’s successes so far, apart from full day universal pre-k, is addressing the labor situation in the city. When he took office all labor contracts had expired. Now the city has settled nearly 72 percent of expired contracts. And one dance de Blasio refuses to dance is the budget dance. A yearly tug of war under Mayor Mike Bloomberg where funding for a service would be removed then put back in. De Blasio’s closeness with the City Council has turned off the music on that dance. The budget would take effect July 1 and must be approved by the City Council.
Linda Perry, WBAI News, NY
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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio