De Blasio Proposes $89.3B Budget Amid Plunging Revenue and Economic Fallout from Coronavirus

NY Daily News - April 17, 2020

by Anna Sanders

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Mayor de Blasio proposed an $89.3 billion executive budget for New York City on Thursday amid plummeting tax revenue and economic fallout from coronavirus, forcing billions in cuts and new spending to fight the pandemic.

The executive budget for the fiscal year 2021 is $6 billion less than the unprecedented $95.3 billion preliminary spending plan de Blasio proposed in January, before coronavirus socked the city with some $7.4 billion in tax revenue shortfalls over the next two years.

Now the epicenter of the worldwide outbreak, the city has spent more than $846 million to respond to coronavirus already and expects to spend $3.5 billion by the end of 2020.

“Things that might’ve been a priority...two months ago, three months ago, can’t be a priority right now. Things that we would love to focus on in peacetime, we don’t get to focus on in wartime,” de Blasio said during a briefing. “The executive budget I’m presenting today was built for this moment in history and a moment unlike any other.”

Hizzoner said the federal government should make up all $7.4 billion in lost revenue to ensure both the city and country can recover from the pandemic. He said the city shouldn’t have to reimburse 25% of FEMA funding spent during the crisis.

“If we can’t provide the basics for our people, then you can kiss your recovery goodbye. It’s as blunt as that,” de Blasio said, adding later, “If they had $58 billion to the airline industry, I assure you, they can find $7.5 billion for the nation’s largest city.”

Already, the city proposed $2.7 billion in budget cuts this fiscal year and next, and has also dipped into its rainy-day reserves for about $4 billion. Total reserves for the fiscal year 2021 now stand at $2.18 billion.

“The cuts that were made were very substantial and very necessary,” de Blasio said.

Outdoor public pools will be closed this summer – and beaches maybe next – saving at least $12 million.

The city will also slash millions in education funding and summer programs, delay hiring and training for some FDNY and NYPD positions, pare down traffic enforcement agents, reduce Staten Island Ferry service, put off implementation of a “green wave” plan meant to boost bicyclist safety, cut tree pruning and stump removal, scale back sanitation and cleaning efforts, suspend organic recycling, postpone a placard abuse team and more.

Multiple agencies will reduce vacant positions and freeze hiring, though de Blasio said layoffs and furloughs are a “last resort.”

And de Blasio said the city hasn’t yet requested authority to borrow for increased operating expenses but could do so in the future.

The executive budget must be adopted before June 30, when the city’s fiscal year 2020 ends, with the approval of the Council.