January 27th, 2017
Mayor Bill de Blasio presented New York City’s Preliminary Budget for Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18).
The FY18 Preliminary Budget is balanced, totaling $84.67 billion. In particular, this budget:
RESPONDING TO THE UNKNOWN
Despite another year of economic growth and a national economy that remains strong, unknowns in Washington provide some reason for concern.
New York City is making targeted investments to strengthen the economy, ensure we stay on course and benefit New Yorkers across the five boroughs. Capital investments help drive the city’s impressive record on jobs, as well. When you compare our NYC to entire states, in 2014-2015 alone, New York City added more jobs than 46 states and employment growth across sectors is outpacing the country as a whole – these investments will build upon that foundation.
We are also forecasting some improvement in tax revenue growth in FY18. While tax revenue is expected to slow to 2.4 percent in FY17, we anticipate modest improvement to 3.9 percent in FY18.
The City does recognize the need to be cautious in the face of uncertainty. As a result, this administration has put a record amount of funding in reserves. Specifically:
As a result, independent monitors and rating agencies continue to affirm the City’s strong budgetary management.
The Administration is also managing out-year gaps and continuing to find savings across City government. As of the Preliminary Budget, agency and debt savings will reduce expenses by $1.1 billion in FY17-18. This is addition to the $1 billion found in the FY17 November Plan and with more to come in the Executive Budget this spring.
TARGETED INVESTMENTS IN NYC’S FUTURE
This budget continues building upon three years of pursuing progressive policies while remaining fiscally responsible. Mayor de Blasio’s prior budgets have invested in priorities that can be felt across the five boroughs, such as 200,000 affordable housing units; free high-quality, full-day Pre-K for All; and moving nearly 2,000 additional NYPD officers onto the street.
Vision Zero: Mayor de Blasio Proposed Budget Invests in More Crossing Guards and Street Safety Redesigns
January 27th, 2017
With safest-ever year in 2016, New York City’s FY18 budget will accelerate street redesigns and increase Vision Zero traffic enforcement — dedicating an additional $400 million over next five years
NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced that the proposed New York City budget for Fiscal Year 2018 would include an unprecedented commitment to Vision Zero, his signature program to reduce traffic injuries and fatalities. The budget will expand the City’s five-year commitment to traffic safety to $1.6 billion, dedicating over $400 million in new resources for street redesign, street markings, lighting and other engineering improvements, while increasing the number of NYPD crossing guards and increasing capacity of the NYPD to crack down on dangerous driving. The Mayor made his announcement in front of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues, which will be among DOT’s targets for major safety improvements in 2017. He was joined at the announcement by Doren Johnson, a 16-year old LaGuardia High School student injured in a crash at this location two years ago.
“With three straight years of declining traffic fatalities in New York City that are strongly countering national trends, Vision Zero has already made a difference in saving lives,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “But we have said that we must always do more. Our proposed budget will allow us to keep kids safe around our schools and expand DOT’s most effective efforts to make our streets even safer.”
“As we further expand our commitment to Vision Zero, New York City has bucked national trends around traffic safety,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “With this new budget, we thank Mayor de Blasio for his continued strong leadership to continue that momentum in advancing the cause of safe streets. After three years of record progress on street redesign, we look forward to fulfilling the Mayor’s charge to do even more.”
“New York City continues to lead the way on Traffic Safety,” said Chief Thomas M. Chan. “With a strong foundation already in place, the Mayor’s new budget will build upon this by providing local precincts with additional state-of-the-art equipment for speed enforcement which is critical to the success of the Vision Zero initiative. The addition of School Crossing Guards and supervisors will help to ensure full coverage on the existing School Crossing Guard Posts; providing safe passage to and from school for our children. The Mayor’s budget strengthens the Police Department’s position in pursuit of Vision Zero.”
Vision Zero highlights from the FY18 Preliminary Budget include:
“To achieve Vision Zero, we need an all-in commitment from every stakeholders on our city’s highways and byways, a commitment of behavior that puts safety first and foremost. Ensuring our communities are safe places to raise healthy children and families also requires a significant investment of resources to address the high risks on our streets, redesigning infrastructure and employing crossing guards. I thank Mayor de Blasio and DOT Commissioner Trottenberg for their steadfast dedication to moving New York City closer to a true Vision Zero, and I will continue to be relentless in my role as a safe streets advocate to making that vision a true reality,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.
“We commend Mayor de Blasio for expanding funding for the ongoing Vision Zero initiative which has already improved safety on our roadways in Queens and throughout all five boroughs,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. “Our City is much safer thanks to the elements of the Vision Zero initiative that have been put in place, and increased investments would do even more to protect our children, pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists.”
“It is investments like these that show how serious New York takes ending traffic fatalities for good,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chair of the Committee on Transportation. “With more funding for major capital improvements to troubled intersections and corridors, as well as for on-street markings and lighting, the City can better ensure the safety of all street users. I look forward to diving into details about this funding in our upcoming hearing on Thursday, January 26th. I want to thank Mayor de Blasio for doubling down on the city’s commitment to achieve Vision Zero on schedule.”
“School crossing guards are the lifeblood of student safety and I applaud Mayor de Blasio for including $6.3 million in his FY18 Preliminary Budget in order to increase the school crossing guard headcount by 200 and hire 100 School Crossing Guard Supervisors, a new position newly created through these funds,” said Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson, Chair of the Committee on Public Safety. “Any post left empty is unacceptable and for the past two years, I have worked with the NYPD, the DOE, the DOT, and my Council Colleagues on developing a solution to empty crossing guard posts and mandate coverage for days when the assigned crossing guard is unable to work. This investment assures parents, teachers, and educators citywide that we take public safety very seriously in our efforts to create safer streets at school intersections. I thank the Administration for recognizing the need for this critical investment and taking this much needed step to ensure our children’s safety.”
“The City of New York is home to more than 8.5 million residents who walk, cycle, or drive throughout the five boroughs. No one should ever feel afraid of crossing a street or intersection within their own community. These critical investments to the Vision Zero initiative will accelerate our efforts to create safer streets, prevent crashes, and save lives. Through continuous street improvements and enforcement, we can enhance traffic safety for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists. I want to thank Mayor de Blasio, DOT Commissioner Trottenberg, and NYPD Transportation Chief Chan for their unwavering commitment to ‘getting to zero,’” said Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo, Chair of the Committee on Women’s Issues.
“I’m thrilled that for the first time in the City’s history we will have School Crossing Guards at every post. For years, the Council has fought for this important investment which will keep our kids safe,” says Council Member Brad Lander. “I am also excited to see significant increases in funding for safer intersections throughout the City, and commend the City’s commitment to significantly stronger enforcement of speeding and failure to yield violations in every NYPD precinct.”
“School crossing guards are not a luxury, but an absolute necessity to keep all of our students safe,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. “While we appreciate our traffic enforcement agents and police officers, nothing can replace the consistent and watchful presence of a crossing guard on our city’s streets. That is why I welcome this budget commitment to ensure that every crossing guard post is filled. Together with increased investment in street safety design, our Mayor is continuing his historic Vision Zero commitment to protect New Yorkers of all ages.”
“Building on last year’s success of Vision Zero, Mayor de Blasio’s proposed budget will leave no school crossing post vacant while providing DOT with necessary funds to continue to improve street safety citywide,” said Council Member Vincent Gentile.
“Vision Zero is saving lives, and we must continue to do everything we can to provide New Yorkers with safe streets. The Mayor’s budget proposal for Vision Zero calls for smart, effective measures that will protect bikers and pedestrians from cars making dangerous left turns, ensures school crossing guards on every post in the City, and engineering improvements in our streets. I applaud the Mayor and the engineers at DOT for their nuanced and sensible approach to street safety,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal.
“I couldn’t be more pleased to see the enhancements in the Mayor’s preliminary budget to keep our streets safer. That’s what Vision Zero is all about. I thank the Mayor, the Department of Transportation, and NYPD for its openness and persistence in creating an environment where everyone using the road wins. By working together, we are stronger and safer,” said Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon.
For more information on Vision Zero, please see www.nyc.gov/visionzero
April 27th, 2016
“At its core, our budget is our roadmap for lifting up communities. After over two years in office, this vision – the strategic investments we have put to work in every neighborhood, coupled with disciplined fiscal management – are producing real results for New Yorkers. Today’s budget builds on that track record, continuing the progressive, responsible and honest budgeting we have established since assuming office.”
New York City’s economy continues to grow and diversify, with the strongest two-year job gain ever, but economic uncertainty around the globe and declining support from state and federal partners pose significant risks.
The Executive Budget adds even more funding to reserves, which have been at unprecedented highs, while continuing to build on the Citywide Savings Program, which now totals over $2.3 billion for this budget – the largest spending reduction program in the last five years.
The Executive Budget targets investments in public safety, public health, education, combatting homelessness, vital infrastructure and transportation, and more.
Click here to view the FY17 Executive Budget.
New York City’s economy continues to grow and diversify – not just in Manhattan, but in all five boroughs.
Over the past five years, the City’s population has grown at the fastest rate since the 1920s. The City is at an all-time high of nearly 4.3 million jobs, including 249,000 added in the past two years alone – a record for any two-year period in city history, and larger than any other metro area.
The City’s economy also continues to diversify, showing growth across many industries and in every borough, including the first meaningful employment growth in manufacturing in 25 years.
But significant risks remain. The top one percent of earners took home nearly 40 percent of income – and economic indicators for the U.S. and the globe are increasingly worrisome. National GDP growth estimates are below one percent for the first quarter of 2016; global markets have fallen significantly since their 2015 peaks; and recessions and sluggish growth continue around the globe.
New York City’s own tax revenue growth is expected to slow to 3.6 percent in 2016 and 1.9 percent in 2017, compared to an average of nearly 7 percent over the past five years. Meanwhile, support from State and federal partners continues to decline
RESPONSIBLE BUDGETING: SAVINGS AND RESERVES
Given these challenges, the de Blasio administration continues to target its investments while protecting the City against the risks ahead – and independent monitors and rating agencies continue to affirm the City’s strong budgetary management.
The administration is keeping out-year gaps at low, manageable levels, while continuing a strong Citywide Savings Program across agencies. The Executive Budget includes $1.25 billion in new savings through FY17; coupled with the over $1 billion in savings already detailed in the Preliminary Budget, the FY17 Budget reflects over $2.3 billion in savings – the largest spending reduction program in the last five years.
Mayor de Blasio had previously boosted the City’s reserves to unprecedented highs, and is adding to them further in the Executive Budget with another $250 million in the Retiree Health Benefits Trust. In total, the budget includes:
- $1 billion each year in the General Reserve
The administration has also eliminated a major fiscal risk, settling contracts with 95 percent of the municipal workforce – compared to zero percent when Mayor de Blasio took office. These agreements included $3.4 billion in unprecedented, guaranteed healthcare savings through FY19, and $1.3 billion every year after, geared toward bending the cost curve.
The FY17 Executive Budget builds on a strong foundation through targeted investments that will improve quality of life and lift up families around the five boroughs:
- $70 million in capital funds to build a new, fully staffed 116th Precinct in southeast Queens, allowing for faster response times and improved crime fighting.
April 26th, 2016
By LAURA NAHMIAS
Mayor Bill de Blasio will announce an $82.2 billion executive budget proposal for fiscal year 2017 on Tuesday, an increase of $100 million from the preliminary budget he unveiled earlier this year. Overall spending would increase by 3.7 percent compared with the current fiscal year.
De Blasio is expected to propose $1.25 billion in savings through his citywide savings plan, in addition to the roughly $1 billion proposed in the preliminary. De Blasio asked all of his agency heads to come up with savings after he released the preliminary budget, a cautionary measure to help prepare for the possibility of a future economic downturn amid uncertainty in global financial markets.
City Hall said the total $2.32 billion savings plan marks the fourth-largest savings in a single budget year since 2001, and would be achieved without any layoffs or cuts in city services.
De Blasio also plans to add $250 million to the city’s retiree health benefits trust, above what was proposed in the preliminary budget, bringing the total trust’s funds to $3.7 billion.
The general reserve will be funded at $1 billion, and the capital stabilization reserve, created last year, will retain $500 million in funds.
The city’s projected outyear gaps will remain largely the same as projected in the preliminary budget, City Hall officials said, with $2.7 billion in fiscal year 2018, $2.97 billion in fiscal year 2019, and $2.3 billion in fiscal year 2020.
The executive budget will include several new expenditures, some of which de Blasio has already detailed in recent weeks, including $20 million in new funding to help reform the city’s Board of Elections after its dismal performance in the presidential primary, $244 million to offset a water rental payment, and $66 million in additional homelessness initiatives identified as a result of the city’s 90-day homelessness review, announced earlier this month.
The mayor also proposed additional funding to help expedite the building of a new water tunnel, and will propose new investments in city sanitation equipment, to address a problem identified earlier this year during a near-record snowfall, when some streets in Queens proved too narrow or sinuous for the city’s larger plows to navigate. In response, the mayor is proposing $21 million in new capital spending for the city’s Sanitation Department, to help purchase smaller, more agile snow-plowing equipment, an initiative the mayor’s office has dubbed “Little Plows for Little Streets.”
De Blasio is also proposing additional funding for ambulance tours throughout the city to improve response times, on top of funding already proposed in the preliminary budget to fund new ambulance tours in response to service gaps left by the closure of a major private ambulance company.
And the mayor will also propose additional aid to the city’s financially troubled Health + Hospitals Corporation, after proposing $337 million in the coming fiscal year as a one-time forgiveness for a payment HHC was supposed to have made to the city.
City Hall said the mayor’s new executive budget would also include additional funding for seasonal workers at the city’s parks and beaches, as well as $50 million in new capital funding for an indoor pool on Staten Island, a promise he made to the borough in a town hall there last week.
The budget plan will also include new money to address opioid addiction, and funds for an e-waste pilot program, as well as expanded funds for Beacon programs, youth and adult programs in “high-need” neighborhoods.
March 24th, 2016
Boisterous opposition from the gallery could not stop the mayor’s zoning overhaul from sailing through
By Rosa Goldensohn
Mayor Bill de Blasio notched a major win Tuesday, changing the way housing is built in the city through a zoning revision that mandates affordable apartments for the middle class and people aspiring to get there.
His two zoning text amendments sailed through the City Council. A bill mandating affordable housing in newly rezoned areas passed 42-5, and a bill changing height and parking requirements passed 40-6. As protesters railed against the plan from the balcony of the council chamber, members lauded it as the most far-reaching affordable-housing policy in the country.
The mandatory inclusionary housing policy defines de Blasio’s political agenda. It was proposed as a counterweight to the trend of rising residential rents and the displacement of longtime residents from their neighborhoods.
When unveiled last year, the plan got a rocky reception. The amendments were roundly rejected by community boards across the city last fall. The mayor also upset construction unions by refusing to mandate union-level wages on affected projects, and angered community groups that said the planned housing will speed gentrification and be too expensive for the poor.
But despite long lines of critics at City Planning Commission hearings and rallies from some left-wing groups, the proposal gained momentum over the winter. Powerful city unions backed the plan, and business groups including the Partnership for New York City and the Real Estate Board of New York testified in its favor.
The plan insists that developers set aside apartments for lower-income residents in exchange for being allowed to build more market-rate units. The administration also committed billions of dollars in subsidies over the decade-long plan to foster affordability in neighborhoods where the zoning bonus is not valuable enough to support reduced-rent apartments.
The main coalition opposed to the proposal, Real Affordability for All, came on board after the mayor pledged to study its demands for lower-income options. But by that point, it had become clear that the council would approve the plan. Still, other protesters interrupted the Tuesday vote on mandatory inclusionary housing, chanting “City Council vote no, MIH has got to go.” After a struggle with security guards, one protester required medical attention.
A typical development under the proposal would include housing for individuals making $36,300 or $48,400, on average–equivalent to 60% or 80% of the area median income for New York City, respectively. The City Council added to the plan a formula for developers to build units for poorer tenants, but that will be entirely optional.
March 7th, 2016
In January NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo presented the NYS Executive Budget and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio presented his budget for New York City. The Governor’s budget included some very exciting line items and an overall progressive and ambitious agenda. In particular BALCONY was thrilled to see a $100 billion proposal for a statewide infrastructure capital plan. We are also excited by the Governor’s commitment to raising the State’s minimum wage to $15/hour. There are many areas of concern, including large cuts in funding for CUNY and SUNY. BALCONY is also concerned that the Governor did little to address outdated and constricting austerity measures like the 2% tax cap while, at the same time, proposing expansive long-term spending increases.
The following is a brief report on key issues of the NYS and NYC budgets. We have also included a list of upcoming BALCONY member events – we hope to see you there!
We would like to thank our friends at the Fiscal Policy Institute (FPI) for their outstanding work analyzing the NYS and NYC budgets and encourage our members to download the FPI New York State Economic and Fiscal Outlook 2016-2017 “A Shared Opportunity Agenda” HERE.
Read the FULL report about the 2016 NYS & NYC Budget and more at this link: BUDGET
February 5th, 2016
Thank you to everyone here tonight, everyone watching at home, and all our friends here at Lehman College. Thanks for hosting us.
And thank you to Ausar. The future of our city is in the hands of young people like you, Ausar, and we’re very proud of you tonight.
For too long, many of our young men weren’t treated like our future. They were treated as something less.
For this fine young man in one of our neighborhoods, we see the Tale of Two Cities transforming into One New York.
I want to acknowledge the elected officials who serve New York: City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Public Advocate Letitia James, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, the Borough Presidents, District Attorneys, Members of Congress, the City Council, and the State Legislature. And a special thank you to my former boss, Mayor David Dinkins.
And the most special thanks I can give is to the love of my life, and the author of a new groundbreaking vision for a city where mental health challenges are addressed head on. Let’s thank our First Lady, Chirlane McCray.
We’re very proud that for the first time, this year’s State of the City is in the evening, when more working New Yorkers have a chance to watch it, and hear what we’re doing to move our city forward.
All of you here, all of you watching tonight, travel a different path throughout the day, dropping your kids off at different schools, taking different trains to work, and nurturing different dreams.
But different as our lives are, we are bound together by an invisible thread. We are united by the profound and powerful fact that we are ALL New Yorkers.
As mayor, I have the extraordinary privilege of seeing this unifying force in action, this strength and this spirit which is unlike any other in the world.
I have seen people come together as One New York in an astounding way, time and time again.
As recently as two weeks ago, we bore the brunt of the second-worst snowstorm in the history of New York City.
During Winter Storm Jonas, people in every community across the city checked in on their most vulnerable neighbors. They shoveled snow for those who couldn’t do it themselves.
And one particular New Yorker, Chantelle Diabate did something that reflects the very best of us.
Chantelle is a registered nurse, and she walked a mile and a half in the height of the storm to get to her job caring for hundreds of elderly patients at the Hebrew Home in the Bronx.
With every step through the piling snow and the bitter cold, she just kept thinking “I really love my patients.”
That, my friends, is the bond between New Yorkers that makes us great. Let’s thank Chantelle for her spirit and her service.
Now, while Chantelle was walking, we were deploying a major multi-agency operation that required thousands of City workers to go above and beyond the call of duty to keep our streets clear and safe. And they did.
Clearing enough snow in the five boroughs to fill Yankee Stadium 66 times, our teams helped us come through this historic storm quickly and smoothly, while other cities were crippled for days.
Let’s thank our sanitation workers, our first responders, and all our City employees.
How we handled Jonas is an example of what we see as our mission every day.
Úna sóla Nuéva York, trabajándo por nuéstros vecindários — tódos nuéstros vecindários.
Our vision means we have to use the tools of government to fight against inequality — and to fight FOR a strong future for ALL our families.
It means we need to manage government effectively for a safe, clean, economically strong city with an improving quality of life.
And it means we must innovate for the future in all our neighborhoods, always pushing the envelope for new ways to keep New York the greatest global city of the 21st century.
Now, this work may often happen in City Hall, but that’s not where it began.
It began with everyday New Yorkers who for decades demanded a better life for themselves and their families.
Empezó a nivél locál, en nuéstros vecindários.
These New Yorkers did not accept a city where thousands of new apartments were being built in their neighborhoods, and not one of them was affordable to their neighbors.
They did not accept a city where the only jobs they could find barely covered the cost of getting to and from that job.
They did not accept a city where good young men like Ausar couldn’t walk in their own neighborhood without worrying they might be stopped and frisked.
So we set out together to create change.
I’d guess that many people here tonight and watching at home know someone who’s afraid they are going to lose their place in the city they love because they can’t afford to stay here.
But more and more, in the face of these challenges, our work of the past two years is taking root in our neighborhoods.
More and more people will be lifted up as we protect today’s affordable apartments and build many thousands more…as communities grow safer…as new businesses open…as our children grow ever more hopeful about their futures…
…as we keep Working for Our Neighborhoods.
Let me show you how this is happening all across the city.
Because of Paid Sick Leave, half a million more New Yorkers can now take a day off to care for themselves or loved ones without worrying about their paycheck.
50,000 City workers and contracted workers will be guaranteed a $15 minimum wage.
And 20,000 City workers will now be able to take six weeks of FULLY paid leave when they have a child, adopt a child, or become a foster parent. And working with our municipal unions, we look forward to the day when we can extend a similar benefit to many more.
I want to pause on this for a moment.
It’s time this country caught up with the rest of the world to create a national policy that eliminates the choice between paying the rent and taking the once-in-a-lifetime chance to bond with a new baby.
And right now, the State of New York is working towards Paid Family Leave as well. I want to thank the Governor for making it a priority in his State of the State address last month.
And I want to commend Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie for being such a powerful champion for our families. Thanks to his leadership, Paid Family Leave passed in the Assembly just two days ago.
We will fight for this change in Washington and do everything we can to ensure it becomes the law of the State.
And I further want to thank two people in this room who are fighting for parental leave everywhere, because they have lived through a parent’s worst nightmare.
Amber Scorah and Lee Towndrow lost their son Karl on his first morning in daycare when Amber went back to work last July.
They have had the fortitude to channel their pain into activism.
Let’s applaud them for their courage.
I talked earlier about New York City as a place for everyone.
Just over a year ago, we worked with the City Council, led by Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, to introduce IDNYC.
And today, THREE QUARTERS OF A MILLION New Yorkers carry it in their pocket.
They use it to participate fully in the life of this city, which includes accessing the jewels in our city’s crown — our museums and cultural institutions — for free.
Let’s thank our cultural institutions for embracing this notion with so much passion, and for opening their doors to thousands of new members.
Paid Sick Leave, Paid Parental Leave, $15 minimum wage, IDNYC…these are the kinds of changes that move a family from struggle to strength. (I could also mention 68,500 kids in free, full-day Pre-K. . .but you’ve heard me talk about it enough.)
Now, we understand that a fairer city must also be a safer city.
Crime within our neighborhoods has gone down 5.8% in two years.
This past month was the safest January on record.
Murders went down 45% and shootings went down 34% percent compared to the same month a year ago.
Thanks to our partnership with the City Council, we’re adding 2,000 cops to the beat by the end of this year — our first increase in patrol strength since 2001.
And at this very moment, our new NYPD counter-terror unit, the Critical Response Command, is protecting us from terror threats.
At 500-plus officers, it is the strongest such force in the entire country.
There has never been a dedicated unit like this before. But we need this level of security because we know we’re a target.
We are a target because New York City is founded on the values of democracy and inclusion. We draw our strength from diversity. We are a city where everyone is respected.
And we believe that in our neighborhoods, safer streets come from stronger bonds between police and community.
So we’ve unveiled One City: Safe and Fair, Everywhere, to bring that belief to life.
It’s our blueprint for REAL neighborhood policing — something that’s been talked about for decades and will now be achieved.
I am proud to say that by summer, we will expand neighborhood policing to 11 more precincts across the city, from the 4–3 in the Bronx to the 7–2 in Brooklyn to the 1–0–9 in Queens.
Eventually, this new approach will come to EVERY ONE of our neighborhoods.
Let’s be forthright. This is a fundamental shift for some neighborhoods that bear scars of a difficult history between police and community.
It asks the people of our neighborhoods and the police officers sworn to protect them to do the work of building trust.
We’re giving our officers every tool they need to do that from the moment they walk through the doors of the Police Academy.
One of those tools is training to help overcome the biases that reside in all of us.
All of the training and technology we are delivering to our police department will help every one of our 35,000 uniformed officers become the kind of cop they signed up to be.
Tonight, we are joined by members of our uniformed services who have performed extraordinary acts of heroism in recent months.
Four officers protected New Yorkers from a terrorist wielding a hatchet. Though he was struck in the head, thank God Police Officer Kenneth Healy came through, with the help of Officers Joseph Meeker, Taylor Kraft and Peter Rivera.
Police Officer Christian Campoverde was off-duty when he saw a man about to take his own life. Using his NYPD crisis intervention training, he talked him down and saved his life.
And just yesterday, Probationary Police Officer Keith Gordon saw fellow officer Daniel Schreiner choking in the 1–0–9 precinct station house. Within seconds, Officer Gordon performed the Heimlich maneuver and saved his life.
NYPD officers don’t need to be in New York City to save lives. Detectives Albert Ramos and Daniel Mulligan were in Los Angeles last year when they subdued a knife-wielding attacker.
Police Officers Benny Colecchia, Daniel Rich and Matt Wicelinski rescued a woman from an overturned ambulette on a highway in Pennsylvania.
Back here at home, Police Officers Anthony Barton and Michael Pyzikiewicz delivered a baby on the L.I.E.
Just 12 days later, Detectives Michael Sharpe, Joseph Conway, and Robert Mirfield, and Police Officers Kevin Moran and Frank Denicola delivered ANOTHER baby on the FDR.
Not to be outdone, EMS members from Station 7 and 8 ALSO delivered a baby in a car, outside the Lincoln Tunnel.
FDNY Lt. Viktor Milukas and Lt. Adam Vilagos EACH rescued some of our youngest New Yorkers last year — a toddler from a fire in Brooklyn and an infant from a fire in Queens.
Firefighter Mike Shepherd was off-duty in the East Village last March when a gas explosion ripped through a nearby building. He ran towards the blaze and helped a woman escape from her apartment.
And don’t forget our Sanitation Department. A would-be robber at a Manhattan 7/11 found himself face-to-face with one of New York’s Strongest — Curtis Jackson — who also happens to be a former Marine — and who swiftly took him down.
And one of our compassionate Correction Officers, Officer Daniel Leites, rescued a woman with Alzheimer’s wandering on Woodhaven Boulevard, saving her from certain injury, or worse, and then — because these are the kinds of public servants we are blessed to have — bought her lunch and gave her his sweater.
And there’s one more hero we need to recognize for an extraordinary accomplishment in 2015.
This is an individual who answered the call on 9/11, and who stayed on the pile for 8 months because, in his words, there was no option but to keep searching for his friends.
And long after that terrible day, Firefighter Ray Pfeifer was STILL fighting for his friends by walking miles and miles in Washington hallways to lobby for the reauthorization of the Zadroga Act — all the while fighting his own health battles.
In December, thanks to Ray’s advocacy, as well as a tremendously strong bipartisan coalition of Members of Congress and mayors from all across the country, the Zadroga Act was made permanent.
So Ray and all our 9/11 first responders and survivors will get lifetime healthcare and support.
Ray is here tonight. Let’s all salute his victory.
It feels good to thank people who have saved lives. And you know what else is saving lives in neighborhoods all across this city? Vision Zero.
Our Vision Zero Action Plan made 2015 the safest year on New York City roads for EVERYONE — pedestrians, cyclists AND motorists — since 1910.
Fatalities are down 22% since 2013 — that’s 66 fewer New Yorkers losing their lives, or a loved one, to crashes.
Yet even one loss is too many. I want to acknowledge Lizi Rahman, Mary Beth Kelly, the Liao family, and the Cohen-Eckstein family, and all the other families who have lost parents, children, and siblings on our roads.
Through their pain, they have demanded change and they have achieved it. Let’s thank them.
Our roads are safer when they’re in good repair. So we’ve filled almost a million potholes in the past two years, and repaved 2,200 lane miles of our roads, smoothing over long-neglected streets from the northern end of the FDR drive to Huguenot Avenue on the South Shore of Staten Island.
That’s the most repaving that’s been done since 1991 — and as if we paved a road from here to Las Vegas.
That’s One New York: Working for Our Neighborhoods.
And we’re putting real resources to work for public transportation. In 2015, we made a historic $2.5 billion dollar contribution to the MTA.
We expanded Staten Island Ferry service to run every 30 minutes, 24/7, and we’re investing to replace the three oldest ferry boats with stronger, storm-resistant boats.
I am so proud that just last week we were able to tell Bob and Linda Ollis of New Dorp that in 2019 one of those new vessels will launch in the New York Harbor with the name of their son, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis,emblazoned upon it.
Sgt. Ollis was a brave, strong, compassionate young man who gave his life for a fellow soldier, and for our country, two and a half years ago.
Let’s thank the Ollis family.
When I stood with Bob and Linda last week, they talked about how their neighbors in Staten Island gave them strength.
Bob said that day “if you buy a piece of Burbank Avenue. . .it’s worth a million dollars only because of the neighbors that you have.”
That’s why we launched the most ambitious municipal affordable housing plan in the history of the nation.
2015 itself was one of the best years EVER for affordable housing in the history this city.
First: We set a record for the number of new apartments financed in one year.
Second: We’re ahead of pace towards our goal of 10,000 affordable apartments for our seniors.
Third: the million-plus tenants living in rent-regulated apartments received their 1st ever rent freeze in City history.
Fourth — and I am especially proud of this — we honored our commitment to END chronic veterans street homelessness in New York City, ensuring that those who served our country weren’t left without a home.
Now, the original bedrock of affordable housing in our city was the New York City Housing Authority.
When Mayor La Guardia created NYCHA in 1934, he proudly told the public that instead of slums and tenements, working New Yorkers would have “decent, modern housing.”
But for decades now, our 400,000 neighbors living in NYCHA have seen their buildings decline due to disinvestment.
So in 2015, we unveiled our NextGeneration NYCHA plan, which will stabilize the Authority’s finances and raise quality of life for tenants.
We began work to replace leaky roofs at 67 buildings through $300 million in City funding.
AND we began work to bring high-speed internet to Queensbridge Houses, Red Hook Houses, and Mott Haven Houses.
Today, I am proud to announce that this year we will take that work to two more developments: Jefferson Houses in Harlem and Stapleton Houses in Staten Island.
When we’re done, more than 21,000 residents at these developments will have access to the high-speed internet that is so important to getting ahead in today’s world.
Every night, at kitchen tables in every neighborhood, New Yorkers are trying to figure out how they’ll make ends meet when the first of the month comes around again.
And this economic reality has taken an even more severe toll on tens of thousands of New Yorkers who find that they can no longer afford to stay in their homes, and are forced into shelter.
More and more, these are families with children, WORKING families who are doing everything right.
But they wake up in shelter, take their kids to school, go to their job, and then return to their shelter when the day is done.
That is NOT what should happen in the greatest city in the world.
That’s why over the past year, we’ve helped many of these families — over22,000 New Yorkers — move from shelter to permanent housing.
We’ve helped another 91,000 with services to stay IN their homes and OUT of shelter.
We created the first-ever shelter repair squad to immediately address poor conditions, and keep our shelters safe and clean.
And while the great majority of our city’s homeless are in shelters, we’re taking unprecedented steps for the three-to-four thousand New Yorkers living on our streets, too.
We’ve launched HOME-STAT, the most aggressive street homelessness outreach program of any city in the United States.
And we’re creating 15,000 supportive apartments over the next 15 years.
I want to take this opportunity to thank City Council Member Steve Levin and State Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi for their leadership in this critical work.
Finally, we have launched the biggest effort in New York City history to support young people on our streets.
Our First Lady is leading ThriveNYC, the most comprehensive program of any American city to support New Yorkers facing mental illness.
It includes Mental Health First Aid training for a quarter million New Yorkers so they can identify and respond to signs of mental illness and substance use.
It includes our NYC Support hotline. Anyone can make one phone call to get connected to care, and to STAY connected to care.
And ThriveNYC also includes teams that pair NYPD Officers with Department of Health and Mental Hygiene clinicians to respond to calls about the severely mentally ill on our streets.
This is a new frontier — it’s the first time the NYPD has embedded mental health clinicians in their day-to-day work on the street. These teams will be hitting the streets next month.
Nothing is more important to creating One City than improving our schools.
And so we are shaking the very foundations of public education.
Our schools must run on the twin engines of equity and excellence.
That’s why we’re bringing Advanced Placement classes to ALL our high schools, Algebra to ALL our middle schoolers, Computer Science to ALL our children at every grade level.
And that’s why we’re focused on the schools that for far too long did not get the resources or the support they needed. Today, our 94 Renewal Schools are graduating more kids and seeing higher test scores through new approaches and new leadership.
And we have made it our mission to ensure that our schools are safe and respectful learning environments.
Too many students in this city have faced a school-to-prison pipeline rather than a school-to-college pipeline.
We’re changing that.
Since the 2011 to 2012 school year, crime in our schools has gone down 29% while suspensions have declined by 36%.
So two years in, we are building One New York.
The changes we’ve made are Working for Our Neighborhoods.
And today, we are capturing the momentum of these first two years to push harder, to go farther.
Working people need every support they can get. And too many of them DON’T have any kind of retirement security.
In fact, fewer than half of all working New Yorkers have access to a plan that can help them save for the retirement years.
Even those who have started to save don’t have much — 40% of New Yorkers have less than $10,000 dollars saved for retirement.
That’s why New York City is working to become the first city in the country to create a retirement savings program for private sector employees.
Working with Speaker Mark-Viverito, Public Advocate James and Comptroller Stringer, we will introduce legislation to enable any New Yorker working at a business with ten or more employees to automatically enroll in a retirement plan.
In 2016, we’re taking our fight against inequality to three particular places in our city that haven’t gotten their due for many years.
First: Downtown Far Rockaway.
Let’s begin with a clip from last year’s State of the City.
Over the past year, we have worked in partnership with Council Member Donovan Richards and community members like Glenn Collins.
After Sandy hit, Glenn was knocking on the doors of his elderly and disabled neighbors, asking what he could bring them.
Now, he helps Far Rockaway residents get their GEDs, find jobs, and build better lives for themselves through his job at our local Workforce1 Center.
Today, the vision held by Glenn and so many other Far Rockaway residents will become a reality.
I am proud to announce that the City of New York is investing $91 million dollars to transform Downtown Far Rockaway — the kind of investment this neighborhood has not seen in years.
We’ll help businesses in commercial corridors like Beach 20th Street. Parents will be able to attend job training workshops while their kids play a pick-up game at the greatly improved Sorrentino Recreation Center. And the whole community will enjoy the new, state-of-the-art Downtown Far Rockaway Library.
Another part of our city that for decades didn’t get its due — where people have fought through some truly tough times — is the South Bronx.
Of all 62 counties in New York State, the people of the Bronx face the greatest health struggles.
And we simply do not accept that.
Within a few weeks, the people of the South Bronx will be able to walk into a new community clinic in Mott Haven to see a doctor, a dentist, or a mental health professional.
ALL patients will get high-quality care regardless of immigration status or ability to pay.
The third neighborhood I want to talk about is Brownsville.
This neighborhood has struggled with high crime and underperforming schools. The young people of Brownsville haven’t had the opportunities they need.
But we know there’s a brighter future on the horizon.
We know that with the right support and a strong faith in the neighborhood, Brownsville CAN and WILL rise.
We’ve already transitioned the 7–3 precinct to our new neighborhood policing strategy.
This year, residents will become safer when we expand our ShotSpotter gunfire detection technology to cover more of the neighborhood.
A new Neighborhood Health Action Center will open to provide the community with both primary care AND critical services like maternal and child care, and SNAP benefits.
And each of the 5,000 middle schoolers and high schoolers in Brownsville will experience something extraordinary when they meet their Single Shepherd for the first time.
Single Shepherds were announced four months ago as part of our Equity and Excellence agenda for our schools.
They’re a cross between a guidance counselor and a mentor.
Single Shepherds will stick with families through the grades, giving them the support they deserve so our kids can excel.
Too many New Yorkers are locked out of a world of information and opportunity on the Internet.
That is why we have launched LinkNYC, which is well on its way to becoming the largest, fastest, free municipal Wi-Fi system in the world.
LinkNYC is replacing the City’s antiquated payphones with a state-of-the-art communications network where they can log on or make a phone call for free.
We just installed the first LinkNYC Wi-Fi kiosks on 3rd Avenue in Manhattan and they will be “turned on” within a matter of weeks.
By the end of July, there will be more than 500 kiosks across all five boroughs, on the way toward our goal of more than 7,500 in neighborhoods across the city.
That’s why I’m so proud of the extraordinary work of our Police Department.
In 2015, because of the men and women of the NYPD, shootings went DOWN almost 3% and gun arrests went UP almost 10%.
But if you know anything about today’s NYPD, you know they’re always seeking the next frontier, the next innovation to make New Yorkers safer.
This sparked the creation of the 200-officer Gun Violence Suppression Unit.
This unit’s efforts led to yesterday’s announcement of the indictment of 18 members of a violent gang.
And they’re just getting started!
Now, if making New Yorkers safer is the first and foremost of our efforts to improve quality of life, then helping New Yorkers get around our city swiftly and easily comes next.
In 2016, we’re taking two important steps to help commuters avoid hassles and gain more of a New Yorker’s most precious resource: time. They don’t call it a New York minute for nothing!
The first step is for our bus riders. By the end of 2016, there will be 350 real-time countdown clocks showing riders in all five boroughs when the next bus is arriving — the same kind of clocks many straphangers already know and love underground.
The second new step is for New Yorkers behind the wheel, who will now be able to pay for street parking in every single one of our 85,000 metered spaces using their smartphone.
No more paper receipts to put on the dashboard! No more running to the meter! Drivers will be able to buy time with a quick tap or text.
I want to thank Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez for his leadership on this issue.
Now, let’s look at what else makes New Yorkers feel good about their neighborhoods.
New Yorkers want to see clean streets and sidewalks.
And that’s why I am proud to introduce CleaNYC, a revitalized effort to keep our neighborhoods clean in all five boroughs.
First, we’re going to add Sunday and holiday pick-up service for 5,000 more litter baskets in the neighborhoods of our city that see the most foot traffic.
Second, we’re going to expand our cleaning of highway ramps and shoulders, which are often the first thing someone coming into the city actually sees.
Every week, we will clean an additional 100 miles of highway ramps of litter and debris.
Third, we’re doubling down on our work to remove graffiti in neighborhoods across the city, adding power-washing trucks that will allow us to clean 40 million square feet of graffiti every year.
Fourth, we will use those SAME power-washing trucks to clean sidewalks along some of the busiest commercial corridors in all five boroughs — like Church Avenue in Brooklyn, the Downtown Flushing Transit Hub in Queens, Jerome-Gun Hill in the Bronx, Broadway on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, and Hylan Boulevard in Staten Island.
But to remain a global leader in the 21st century, we must also build a vision of our future.
It’s time for a New Economy for New York.
This is our vision for an economy that draws as much strength from a film & TV soundstage in the Bronx, a 3-D printing company in Long Island City, or a fashion manufacturer in Sunset Park, as it does from a gleaming office tower in Midtown.
It’s an economy that sees abandoned industrial land on our waterfront as an opportunity to build a thriving commercial district.
And it’s an economy that benefits all our neighborhoods.
We said two years ago that we would create a five-borough economy. And it’s already happening.
In the last two years, jobs in the outer boroughs grew at more than twice the rate of those in Manhattan.
And speaking of jobs, we now have over 4.2 million jobs in our city — the most in our history. And we created more than 220,000 of those in the past two years — the highest two-year gain ever.
And you know who’s creating jobs? Our small businesses.
With a lot of guts and a lot of elbow grease, entrepreneurs like Lori, whose Staten Island wine shop you saw earlier, are fueling our economy and strengthening our neighborhoods.
It’s up to US to clear the path for them to get that done.
And today, small businesses are feeling major tax relief because last year we instituted the most sweeping changes and cuts in decades to our city’s outdated small business-tax code.
And imagine the relief when the City issues a warning instead of a fine — something that happened thousands of times last year and collectively saved our small businesses more than $15 million dollars.
For small businesses, time is money. And entrepreneurs have told us it takes too much time to fulfill their life’s dream of opening a new business.
So today, we’re providing one-on-one assistance that saves businesses an average of two and half months when opening.
That means businesses start to make money quicker, and start to provide jobs for our neighborhoods sooner.
More than ever, we’re helping small businesses in places like the Brooklyn Navy Yard and the Brooklyn Army Terminal, where we’ve invested to spark the growth of companies in new industries, like life sciences and technology.
And while there has been tremendous activity, these economic hubs haven’t yet reached their full potential.
And there’s a simple reason why: you haven’t been able to easily get to and from these neighborhoods using public transit.
So we’ve been pursuing new ways to connect New Yorkers to these neighborhoods — and they are already taking off.
Look at Citibike, which began under the previous Administration and is now shattering expectations, with 10 million rides last year.
This year we’re expanding this successful program, adding another 2,500 bikes in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan to grow the system to 10,000.
And last year I announced the first-ever Citywide Ferry Service, which is well underway. Docks are under construction right now, ahead of the launch of the service next year.
Now, we are seeing explosive growth on the waterfront in Brooklyn and Queens.
The neighborhoods that run along the East River from northern Queens to Sunset Park are home to over 400,000 people, including over 40,000 NYCHA residents; and major employment hubs like Downtown Brooklyn, the Navy Yard, and the Sunset Park industrial cluster.
So tonight I am announcing the Brooklyn-Queens Connector, or BQX, a state-of-the-art streetcar that will run from Astoria to Sunset Park, and has the potential to generate over $25 billion of economic impact for our city.
New Yorkers will be able to travel up and down a 16-mile route that links a dozen waterfront neighborhoods.
The BQX has the potential to change the lives of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers.
And there’s another great opportunity awaiting us on the water.
Governor’s Island is a 172-acre oasis in New York Harbor that has a history as long as New York City itself.
It was a fishing camp for the very first, native New Yorkers.
And then, in May 1624, it became the birthplace of our city when the first Dutch settlers arrived there and christened it “New Netherland.”
Those thirty families who set foot onto the shores of Governors Island almost 400 years ago made their arduous voyage in search of opportunity.
They planted the seeds of a city that would grow as a place for everyone.
And just as our city has grown, Governors Island should grow again as a place of opportunity for New Yorkers.
Today, we pledge to make Governors Island a place where economic opportunity COMES TOGETHER WITH innovation, education, and creativity.
We will revive the beautiful buildings in the Historic District that celebrate New York City’s past, and look to the future through millions of new square feet for commerce, culture, and research.
This will create tens of thousands of jobs, and enable 365-day access for all New Yorkers for the first time in the Island’s history.
It will create a place where a young biomedical scientist might develop a cure for diabetes, or a tech entrepreneur might innovate a gravity-powered light bulb.
Many of these ideas will help us meet the challenges we face right here in New York City, including one of the greatest threats we all must confront: climate change.
We’ve challenged ourselves to cut our emissions 80% by the year 2050, and to achieve the cleanest air of any major U.S. city by 2030.
Here’s how we get there: today, we announce that Number 6 heating oil — the most polluting heating oil — has been totally eliminated from New York City buildings.
And we are moving toward renewables and away from fossil fuels, leading by example with our public buildings.
We’ve increased the amount of solar power in city-owned buildings 7-fold since 2013.
And today we commit to increase that amount five times over again to 25 megawatts within three years.
This will remove emissions from our environment — AND save taxpayers money.
We’re also making ourselves more resilient against climate change through a comprehensive $20 billion dollar resiliency plan. Many measures are already in place, and many more are underway.
So let me bring all the pieces together and conclude with a simple vision for the people of our city.
They deserve a job that allows more than just scraping by. . .
. . .a home they can actually afford. . .
. . .an education for their children that helps them achieve their dreams.
New Yorkers deserve strong neighborhoods. Safe neighborhoods. Clean neighborhoods.
Neighborhoods that become stronger as the world keeps progressing into the 21st century.
Neighborhoods that lift UP their people and in doing so lift up the whole city.
That is our work.
That is our future.
Thank you, God bless you all, and God bless the people of New York City.
June 29th, 2015
By Andrew J. Hawkins
Letitia James wants to create a pension system for private employees, but she faces a number of challenges.
Public Advocate Letitia James is renewing her push for a pooled retirement system for pensionless private-sector employees. In recent days, she has testified at a City Council hearing, released a report on New Yorkers being unprepared for retirement, and even pitched Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s staff on the proposal.
Still, she faces an uphill battle. Her bill in the council to create a “retirement security study group” to analyze the feasibility of a pooled retirement system for private employees has only gained six sponsors in the six months since its introduction. City Comptroller Scott Stringer, who helps manage the $160 billion, five-fund pension system for city workers, promised to create his own advisory panel on private workers’ pensions, but that effort is stalled. And Mr. Cuomo has enough on his plate with public pensions.
But Ms. James says she’s optimistic about the bill’s chances.
“Hopefully by working together, we can get in front of this looming crisis,” she said. “We’ve still got some work to do.”
Democratic activist Bill Samuels has been pushing such a pooled pension system through his nonprofit advocacy group, Effective NY. “I don’t see any legislation even surfacing (in New York) until late 2016,” he had predicted to Crain’s in March, incorrectly as it turned out. “We need to build support.”
As Ms. James sees it, this problem is a failure by private employers to provide retirement benefits such as 401(k) plans to their workers. Only 41% of private workers in New York City had access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan in 2011, down from 49% a decade ago, according to a report by the public advocate’s office. Whereas 44% of current retirees receive pension income nationally, only 19% of working-age Americans are due to receive it. Among working New Yorkers aged 25 to 44, only 8% say they have access to a defined-benefit plan.
“The taxpayers will bear the brunt of Baby Boomers who will have to be cared for,” Ms. James said. “It could have a major, adverse impact on our bottom line as a city.”
Details for a solution, though, still need to be worked out, she said. “Who will manage it? What are the fees? What are the opt-out provisions? The default provisions? What businesses will they [include]?”
Private employers have moved away from offering defined-benefit pensions for their workers, but these plans remain common in government—and increasingly expensive: In fiscal year 2016 the city will set aside $8.7 billion, or 11% of its total budget, for pension contributions, straining the city’s ability to pay for services.
Defined-contribution plans are cheaper because they do not guarantee retirement income and can be funded solely by employees. But even if private employers set up a defined-contribution plan for their workers and do not contribute company money to it, there is still an administrative cost to the business. And the smaller the business, the higher the cost per employee.
A pooled system for workers from many businesses, however, would enjoy economies of scale not available to individual businesses administering 401(k) and other such plans.
“Illinois passed a very good version,” Mr. Samuels said. “State action [in New York] is eventually what I’d like to see. We are urging that New York City study this first, as it did for campaign finance reform, then expand it to the state.”
Besides Illinois, two other states have passed legislation enabling a pooled pension for private workers, according to Samuels, who said he began looking at the issue along with state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli in 2011 or 2012.
Even if employees do have a 401(k) or 403(b) retirement program available to them, many do not participate, or do not contribute enough money, or make bad investment choices because they fall prey to investor psychology: selling stocks when the market falls and buying when it rises. Some even withdraw money before retirement and pay penalties and taxes.
In the pooled system envisioned by Mr. Samuels, as in a public pension fund, the investment choices are made by professional managers and individuals cannot withdraw money prematurely. Accounts would be portable if employees switched jobs, and enrollment would be automatic unless the worker opted out.
Statement of Richard T. Anderson, President, New York Building Congress, on the lack of a fully-funded MTA capital plan
June 29th, 2015
“We in the building community are deeply disappointed that the New York State legislative session ended without any serious discussion or proposals to finance the MTA’s vital $32 billion, five-year capital plan. The MTA transit and commuter rail system, which moves more than eight million customers a day, is the lifeblood of the region’s economy, and ensuring its future reliability must be priority number one.
“The New York Building Congress calls on Governor Cuomo, Majority Leader Flanagan, and Speaker Heastie to start working now on a comprehensive funding strategy that will allow the MTA to revitalize its aging infrastructure and modestly expand the system to meet growing demand. This must be the first item of business when the State Legislature reconvenes later this year.”
What you can do:
Members of the building industry should contact Governor Andrew Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and State Senate President John Flanagan and tell them that the State a fully-funded MTA capital program is essential to the New York State economy.
A draft letter which you can send is available here.
June 29th, 2015
by Ben Max
A little after 10 p.m. Monday night, June 22rd, and more than a week before deadline, Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced that they had reached a deal on a balanced fiscal year 2016 city budget. The $78.5 billion budget is for the fiscal year beginning July 1 and includes additional spending from the mayor’s Executive Budget, released in May, for several Council priorities – including the hiring of 1,297 new NYPD officers. Along with the expanded NYPD headcount, the budget includes funding for six-day library service around the city, parks workers, senior citizen services, a city bail fund, and other key items that were negotiated over the past months. The budget also reflects new agency savings and increased tax revenue, thus showing only a $200 million increase from the mayor’s executive budget.
De Blasio gave credit to his budget team, led by Office of Management and Budget Director Dean Fuleihan, and Mark-Viverito to hers, led by Finance Committee Chair Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, who was the third speaker Monday evening after de Blasio and Mark-Viverito. The mayor and speaker gave what each sees as the highlights from their perspective, as did Ferreras-Copeland, then the press assembled in the rotunda at City Hall peppered the mayor with questions about why he had relented to the Council push – two years in the making – to add significantly to the NYPD force. Explaining that the two sides had agreed to key cost savings like a cap on NYPD overtime, de Blasio also indicated that he and council leadership believe the added personpower will allow NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton to implement true neighborhood policing. There will also be new officers devoted “to counter-terror work.”
In a release to the media, de Blasio’s office touts the budget as moving forward “key initiatives to tackle income inequality and lift up families across the five boroughs, while protecting and strengthening the City’s long-term fiscal health.”
When he spoke, de Blasio named three standout aspects to him: increased funding toward the city’s most struggling, or “renewal”, schools specifically for extended learning time and health services; additional funding for libraries that will return them to six-day service; and the plan for an expanded NYPD headcount. In the statement released by his office, he said, “We’re strengthening the NYPD’s ranks, devoting new officers to counter-terror work and neighborhood policing, while securing vital fiscal reforms in overtime and civilianization. We are also making critical investments in our renewal schools, libraries, and so much more.”
For her part, Mark-Viverito highlighted the investment in seniors, which, according to the mayor’s office, includes “$4.3 million to eliminate waitlists for the Department for the Aging’s homecare program, and $2 million to expand elder abuse prevention,” as well as “$750,000 – growing in the out years – to fund support services through the Seniors in Affordable Rental Apartments (SARA) Program; 30 percent of those units are set aside for homeless seniors.” Referring to strong ongoing lobbying efforts by seniors and their Council member allies (chiefly led by Council Members Margaret Chin and Paul Vallone), Mark-Viverito acknowledged the “active,” “vocal,” and fast-growing population of aging New Yorkers.
In a statement, Mark-Viverito also highlighted new Council spending, saying, “From establishing a Citywide bail fund, to creating new jobs for young adults, to strengthening the City’s commitment to veterans and hiring 1,297 more NYPD officers to keep us safe, our budget makes New York City a better place to call home.” The Council is dedicating $1.4 million to create a new bail fund, part of “$280 million in Council initiatives that will support New Yorkers throughout the City.”
The goal of the bail fund is “to keep those accused of non-violent, low-level offenses out of jail. The Council’s Bail Fund will provide bail of up to $2,000 and will save the City millions of dollars in incarceration costs and will help make the City’s criminal justice system more just,” according to a Council press release.
The budget includes additional funding toward parks that had been lobbied for by Council members and advocates, including almost $700,000 to extend beach season one week past Labor Day.
The deal received a mostly positive response from Council Parks Committee Chair Mark Levine, who said in a statement, “I am thrilled that the City Council has restored funding for gardeners and maintenance workers–saving 150 vitally needed jobs, and protecting a critical resource for parks in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. I am also excited that we will be extending the beach season, allowing countless New Yorkers to enjoy these resources for a week past Labor Day,” said Council Member Mark Levine. “I am disappointed the budget does not provide additional funds for community gardens, playground staff, mid-sized parks, and other important needs our park system faces. I look forward to continuing to work with the Mayor and my colleagues in the Council to bring greater resources to a park system that has been underfunded for far too long.”
While de Blasio noted the increased funding heading toward the renewal schools that are the focus of much Department of Education effort and outside scrutiny, there are other key school-related additions to the budget, including $6.6 million for the DOE to “hire 50 additional physical education teachers and conduct a comprehensive needs assessment to address barriers and move schools toward full physical education compliance.” There was a City Council hearing last week focused on the city’s continued violation of state physical education requirements. This move in the budget may slow Council attempts to enact legislation requiring more reporting by the DOE on physical education programming, staffing, and space.
There’s also “$17.9 million to phase-in breakfast in the classroom at 530 elementary schools, serving 339,000 students” by fiscal year 2018. While money for this Council priority, otherwise known as “breakfast after the bell,” is included, there is no expansion of universal free lunch, which the Council had been pushing for. Last year, the program was instituted in middle schools, where all students are now provided lunch at no charge, but the mayor said that the results of the program were underwhelming and that instead of expanding it to elementary and/or high schools, the city would first look to do more outreach around the middle school offering and see if there is a noted improvement in year two.
The budget includes “$1.14 million to fund 80 additional school crossing guards,” which will help contribute to the mayor’s Vision Zero traffic and pedestrian safety work around schools, and more money for teachers to spend on their classrooms. On Twitter, the United Federation of Teachers thanked Mark-Viverito specifically, noting that “The city budget contains a 62% increase in Teacher’s Choice funds. Teachers should get $125 next school year, up from $77.”
One point of contention, especially heightened of late, has been funding and function at the Mayor’s Office of Veteran Affairs. There has been a push to pass a Council bill that would create a new Department of Veterans Affairs, moving the work outside of the mayor’s office (though still under the mayor’s control) and allowing for increased funding and Council oversight. That bill is likely stalled in the Council, though it has over thirty sponsors, while the new budget includes “$1.5 million in new staff and resources to meet the Mayor’s goal of ending veteran homelessness, and $335,000 to fund a team of Veterans Service Officers that will be deployed in communities throughout the five boroughs,” according to the mayor’s office.
Meanwhile, the NYPD investment for nearly 1,300 new officers is much of what everyone is talking about. The mayor had pushed back against Council pleas (and even a few from Bratton) for hiring 1,000 new officers during both the fiscal 2015 and 2016 budget processes. This budget, however, includes “$170 million to add new uniformed officers to the NYPD, coupled with vital reforms in overtime and civilianization that will generate over $70 million in savings when fully phased-in. The new officers will be dedicated to counter-terror efforts and neighborhood policing – central to Commissioner Bratton’s reengineering of the Department to bring police and community closer together while keeping crime low,” according to the mayor’s office.
Police reform advocates expressed immediate displeasure with the compromise and budget watchdogs shared concern about the choice’s fiscal ramifications. The Police Reform Organizing Project, or PROP, released a statement saying, in part, “Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council leaders have made a truly terrible decision to add 1300 or so new officers to the NYPD’s headcount. Rather than solve problems it will aggravate existing difficulties, deepening the racial, social, and economic inequities that plague our city and adding to the antagonism and distrust that communities of color already feel toward the police and the criminal justice system.” De Blasio and others, of course, argue differently, saying that more officers will allow the NYPD to develop stronger community relationships and do more preventative policing.
Meanwhile, the Citizens Budget Commission said in a statement, “The FY 16 adopted budget announced by the Mayor and the Council this evening adds approximately $200 million in spending for additional police, social service providers and other programs. Although there is additional revenue available to fund these costs in the coming fiscal year, the agreed upon additions are an added risk to the City’s fiscal health in future years, when budget gaps are already projected and when an inevitable economic downturn will erode the revenue required to pay for recurring expenses.”