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Comptroller Scott Stringer: De Blasio’s Budget Falls Short

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer (credit: Getty Images)

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer (credit: Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York City’s comptroller says the de Blasio administration’s proposed budget appears to drastically underestimate labor costs.

As WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported, Comptroller Scott Stringer said Wednesday the biggest budgetary obstacle this year is the number of open labor agreements the city has to settle. All of the 152 unions were working on expired contracts when Mayor Bill de Blasio took office last month. His administration reached its first labor agreement this week with the Law Enforcement Employees Benevolent Association, which represents about 200 environmental officers.

“If you look at salaries and wages, we assume a 1-percent annual growth,” Stringer said. “Achilles’ heel of this FY15 preliminary budget is that it does not provide or adequately anticipate the resolution of some 150 outstanding labor contracts.”

Stringer warned, “If we do not have a clear resolution of the cost of labor settlements by around June 30, we run the risk of the decision being made for the taxpayers by arbitration panels.”

In addition to striking forward-looking agreements, labor leaders have asked for retroactive raises, which could cost the city more than $7 billion. The deal struck with the Law Enforcement Employees Benevolent Association includes an average of more than $50,000 each in back pay.

Stringer also pointed out the mayor’s budget assumes $530 million in revenue from a proposed tax hike on the wealthy to fund universal prekindergarten and after-school programs, a levy state lawmakers have yet to approve. Gov. Andrew Cuomo seems to be firmly opposed to backing the tax and has pitched his own universal pre-K plan for the state.

De Blasio unveiled his administration’s first city budget last week, when he showed how he plans to put his campaign promises in effect through roughly $70 billion in annual spending.

While funding prekindergarten was at the heart of de Blasio’s proposed budget, the mayor also planned to pay for an inspector general for the NYPD and enforcement of the Paid Sick Leave Act. He has also set goals for investing more money in public housing repairs and maintenance and intends to expand services for homeless youths and cap rent contributions for HIV and AIDS clients.

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