The City Council today unanimously approved a $85.2 billion budget for Fiscal year 2018, which runs from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018.
The spending plan is an increase of about $1.7 billion over last year’s FY 2017 budget and a $15.4 billion or 22 percent increase in the city’s budget since Mayor Bill de Blasio took office in 2014.
“This budget is aimed at addressing the economic realities of everyday New Yorkers,” said Mayor de Blasio. “Life in this city is too hard for too many, but with this budget it is our goal to alleviate some of those pressures. We are adding 5,000 additional Summer Youth Employment slots, creating a property tax exemption for veterans how have fought for this country, and eliminating the waitlists for senior case management and home care. We’re doing this all while maintaining the fiscal responsibility raters and monitors have come to expect and adding to our rainy day reserves.”
Among the highlights of the budget include an over $165 million to children in the public school system including $18.4 million to expansion of the Emergency Food Assistance programs, $12.5 million for the expansion of the Free School Breakfast and Lunch programs and $100 million in capital funding for improvements to public library systems among other student school programs.
The budget will also double the number of jobs in the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP), adding 70,000 jobs for young people across the five boroughs, as well as $22 million to restore the Teacher’s Choice Program, a program that allows educators to use city funds to purchase supplemental learning supplies for their classrooms.
City Council Members Jumaane Williams (D-Flatbush, East Flatbush, Midwood) and Mathieu Eugene (D-Flatbush, Lefferts Gardens both applauded the increase of funding for summer youth employment.
“I am proud that by working together, 70,000 Summer Youth Employment (the maximum the current system could handle) slots were baselined, which is up from 60,000 last year and almost double from 4 years ago. Every research data on this issue shows that employing young people means stronger families, crime reductions and – literally, our children remaining alive. I look forward to building the structure so we can provide for every young person who applies,” said Williams.
Spending on immigration-related services also came out a big winner with an over $12 million allocation going toward immigrant issues including, $10 million for the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project, $2 million in funding for the Unaccompanied Minors Initiative and continued funding for the Immigrant Healthcare Initiative.
“The organizations that deliver essential human services in our neighborhoods will receive a desperately needed increase in City contract funding. I am proud our balanced 2018 budget upholds Sanctuary City values and continues or expands funding for programs I have promoted including adult literacy and a variety of legal services for immigrants and families facing deportation,” said City Council Member Carlos Menchaca (D-Sunset Park, Red Hook), chair of the Immigration Committee.
The budget will also invest in city agencies including $2.9 million investment toward modernizing the Board of Elections, $2.67 million to expand the law enforcement division of the Human Rights Commission, and $12.7 million to expand Administration for Children’s Services contracts, runaway homeless youth shelter operators and adult protective services contracts.
City Council Member Mark Treyger (D-Coney Island, Bensonhurst), noted that the additional funding for election polling sites will help pay for Russian language translators desperately needed in his district that has many Russian language speakers.
“It is imperative that we modernize the way our city oversees the voting process by ensuring that we are prepared to move forward, even in the case of emergency circumstances. We need a process that is accessible for all voters. Increasing translation services at poll sites means creating a fairer, more equitable voting process so all voters can take advantage of the treasured American right and responsibility to make their voices heard,” said Treyger.
The budget also included a $22.89 million baseline increase for the Department for the Aging senior service offerings including $10 million for senior center operations, $6.5 million toward increasing Homecare Services, $1.2 million in funding to improve Case Management Services, $1.2 million to extend the Weekend Meals Program and $4 million to launch a new Caregiver Support Program.
This budget also marks the last budget season for both City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who is term-limited, and Finance Committee Chair Julissa Ferreras-Copeland who is retiring to spend more time with her family.
But the large budget increase in the last three years hasn’t gone unnoticed by Republican mayoral candidates Paul Massey and Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis who have been quick to criticize the Mayor’s spending habits.
“New Yorkers need a mayor who is not a career politician, has the executive experience to manage a significant budget, who will plan for the unforeseen and find smart ways to innovate. We must cut the bloat that is a byproduct of poor management and a tax-and-spend mentality and bring fiscal sanity back to City Hall,” said Massey
“The fact that their new budget is more than 20% higher than Bloomberg’s final budget, with no signs of a commitment to a properly funded reserve fund or paying-off long-term retiree health and pension liabilities, is proof of the runaway spending our city faces; a problem that will grow in leaps and bounds if Bill de Blasio is re-elected to a second term,” said Malliotakis.
An Independent Budget Office (IBO) spokesperson was still analyzing the budget at post time and was unable to comment as to its fiscal soundness.