NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Fearing a national economic slowdown, Mayor Bill de Blasio has proposed a new budget that for the first time during his tenure that actually reduces the number of city employees.
It also cuts the first lady’s budget for mental health initiatives, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported Thursday.
With an apparent eye on the White House, the mayor is trying out a new fiscal mantra that might play well on the campaign trail.
“This budget you will see is for a new era that we are entering into where we will focus on fiscal caution,” de Blasio said.
The mayor said he is concerned about an uncertain economic picture nationally and globally, but that didn’t stop him from proposing a $92.5 billion budget, an increase of $4 billion from last year, and an increase of $16 billion since he took office in 2014.
Those funds go to hire more cops, more teachers for pre-K and 3-K and a host of other progressive initiatives, but this year, for the very first time, the total head count is going down, if ever so slightly.
“It is a modest decrease, a total reduction of 357 positions,” de Blasio said.
That’s in addition to 1,600 vacant positions the mayor is leaving unfilled.
Other belt-tightening measures include:
*$104 million from the education budget for extended learning time at renewal schools
*$6 million in cuts to cultural institutions
*$2.5 million in cuts to after-school programs
And a $9 million cut to the Mental Health Service Corps, which is part of first lady Chirlane McCray’s cherished ThriveNYC program.
The mayor did his best to defend the program, whose effectiveness has been questioned.
“In most cases the results have been very positive. In a couple cases less so, and this Mental Health Service Corps is one example,” de Blasio said. “The specific outcomes did not match the expectations and in that case it did not make sense to continue it.”
Possibly anticipating the city council’s reservations about ThriveNYC, budget director Melanie Hartzog said there would be more cuts to the program, but she wouldn’t say what they are.
“For fiscal year ’20 and out we will further revise the program. We will come back to everyone at adoption with more details,” Hartzog said.
The mayor should probably gear up for a budget battle with the city council. Council Speaker Corey Johnson said the mayor’s budget does not reflect the council’s priorities. It seems there will be a lot of push-back before budget deadline at the end of June.