NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday proposed a new budget with a few new initiatives – and no money to fix the subways.
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, anticipated cuts from Washington and Albany have forced de Blasio to tighten his belt, and forget his previous free-spending ways.
Although the size of the municipal workforce soared during de Blasio’s previous term, the mayor is now calling for a partial hiring freeze and only modest new initiatives.
“We will carefully, gingerly deal with the time’s we’re living in,” de Blasio said. “We’re going to be cautious and fiscally responsible.”
The $88.6 billion budget – up $2 billion from last year – has no new money for the city’s chronically ill transit system. De Blasio said the transit system is the state’s problem.
“The responsibility resides in Albany. The power resides in Albany,” de Blasio said. “They need to fix the problem.”
There is an increase in homeless spending as the city seeks to open more shelters and get out of costly hotels and often dilapidated cluster sites.
The modest budget plan also:
• Accelerates the use of body-worn cameras for police officers;
• Expands pre-K and 3K;
• Allocates more money for anti-bullying programs;
• Replaces aging boilers at 20 New York City Housing Authority public housing projects.
The mayor also wants to make thousands of basement apartments illegal and match seniors with roommates.
On basement apartments, de Blasio said: “We believe minimally there are 5,000 apartments in this city that will qualify. Ultimately, we’d love to see that number get even bigger.”
There was also no mention in the budget of the Sanitation Department’s fledgling exploration of charging people to pick up their trash. Although the plan is not expected to be done until next year, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson is against it.
“No way, Jose,” Johnson said.
Johnson is not expected to be as easy as his predecessor, Melissa Mark-Viverito, in budget negotiations with the mayor. He promised to attend the budget hearings, and if the commissioners do not have answers to his questions, he said the hearings will adjourn until they provide answers.
“They need answers at the hearings right then and there, and so if there’s no answer, we can adjourn the meeting,” he said.
Although this was not exactly a good-news budget, there was a silver lining. The mayor said there will be no property tax increases, and promised to appoint a commission to reform the tax code.