Late Friday night, Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito shook on a deal setting out New York City’s budget. They accomplished this difficult negotiation weeks before the deadline (it’s the earliest budget since 1992), likely in part because the Mayor and Council Members need to go out and campaign for re-election.
The plan has New York City spending $85.2 billion, slightly more than de Blasio’s earlier budget proposal. This is the final budget of Mayor de Blasio’s four-year term, during which time the budget has increased nearly 20% from $72 billion.
So what’s in it?
- $12.5 million to expand the free school lunch and breakfast program to all elementary schools as well as middle schools that share a building with an elementary school. This has been a key priority for Public Advocate Letitia James and all five borough Presidents and they’re sure to be happy about this win for schoolchildren and their parents.
- $110 million to build and repair libraries.
- $105 million to construct and repair school gyms so that all schools have full physical education programs by the beginning of 2021 school year. (Right now, 197 city schools don’t have them). The de Blasio administration refers to this program as “Universal Physical Education”.
- $23 million to eliminate waitlists for seniors who need home care, create a new program to support caregivers, provide Senior Center and home delivery meals for seniors on the weekend. This comes after the group LiveOn NY declared this year “the year of the senior”. They described this funding as “an important recognition of both the need for funding to allow seniors to thrive in their communities, as well as an understanding of the work senior service agencies do to make New York a better place to age.”
- $25 million to expand a property tax exemption for war veterans, so that each of the 56,000 New York City veterans will save $443 per person. The New York City Veterans Alliance focused on this as part of their agenda. Their founder, Kristen Rouse, described the victory as “welcome news for the more than 58,000 veteran homeowners in NYC who have been struggling to keep up with rising school taxes that they should have been exempted from long ago.”
- $20 million to provide 6,500 jobs for young people during the school year (the Work, Learn and Grow program) and 70,000 summer jobs (the Summer Youth Employment Program).
- The budget also included a couple smaller items:
- $6.4 million to develop the Fly Cars system to more quickly respond to incidents in the Bronx by stationing emergency vehicles in hotspot locations.
- $4 million to buy every FDNY firefighter an extra pair of boots.
- However, the controversial immigration defense fund remains unresolved; Bill de Blasio continues to insist that people convicted of serious crimes should not get free aid in their immigration case while Melissa Mark-Viverito and advocates argue that it’s unfair to exclude them.