NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The budget battle between Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council is heating up after the mayor threatened to block over $1 billion for good works and social programs.
CBS2’s political reported Marcia Kramer has the story.
It was only a year ago that City Council members applauded the mayor for reaching a budget deal that included $1.1 billion for a vast network of charities and nonprofits that they view as critical to their communities — money for food pantries, seniors, LGBTQ outreach, domestic violence and cultural groups. It’s a social safety net needed more than ever during this pandemic.
City Council finance chair Daniel Dromm says the mayor’s budget proposal includes no money – zero dollars – for these groups.
“We are very, very angry and we are determined because of our anger not to back down from our demands to protect the safety net,” Dromm said.
David Greenfield, himself a former city councilman, is head of the MET Council — which funds a multitude of social programs for seniors, the food insecure, the poor.
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“If the mayor defunds these council initiatives it will be the greatest mistake of his entire career because he will be hurting literally hundreds of thousands of struggling New Yorkers and people who are about to lose their homes… seniors… women who are being abused,” Greenfield said. “To essentially punish the poorest people during this pandemic is just reprehensible.”
David Kilmnick is the executive director of LGBT Network.
“The mayor needs to step up to the plate and realize the nonprofits are doing the work. We are on the front lines 365 days a year,” Kilmnick said.
The mayors press secretary defended the move.
“This is not business as usual. We are not going to be doling out bags of cash. We need to find savings so we can keep people at work,” said Fredi Goldstein.
She was referring to the mayor’s threat to lay off 22,000 people.
WATCH: Mayor Bill de Blasio Holds Daily Briefing<
“We have not seen city layoffs like this since the 1970s fiscal crisis,” de Blasio said.
David Greenfield says cutting the discretionary funds during the pandemic would be like “You have a four alarm fire and the mayor says, middle of the fire, I’m recalling the firefighters.”
The deadline for a budget agreement is Tuesday.
The mayor said he is negotiating with lawmakers in Albany to allow New York City to borrow. He added that no help seems to be coming our way from the federal government.
“The president’s been missing in action on the stimulus. I have spoken to him about it multiple times. I have appealed to him publicly. I have appealed to Senator McConnell. The Republicans are not moving. Let’s be clear. I spoke to Senator Schumer about this recently. Donald Trump has not said a word in favor of a stimulus that would truly help cities and states. Senator McConnell has not scheduled a vote. Let’s get real here. They know there’s a crisis. It has gotten worse, in fact coronavirus is surging around the country. They are doing nothing. They are choosing to do nothing,” he said.
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De Blasio said the city’s decision to paint Black Lives Matter on a street near Trump Tower has “no bearing on the stimulus because he’s done absolutely nothing about the stimulus either way.”
The mayor also called on state lawmakers to make sure those people who can’t afford to pay rent can instead use a payment plan to avoid evictions.
“If you can not pay the rent, we’ve got to make sure you’ve got a roof over your head. You should not be evicted. If you can pay the rent, of course you should pay the rent. Because you know what? The building owners need to keep the buildings up, they need to pay bills too. A lot of them are struggling as well,” de Blasio said.
The mayor lauded the fact the New York City is on track for Phase 3 reopening as of July 6.
The city estimates 50,000 workers will return under Phase 3, which will bring back nail salons and spas. Restaurants will be able to return with indoor dining at 50% capacity.
Small businesses that may need help or guidance reopening are urged to call the city’s Small Business hotline at (888) SBS-4NYC or can CLICK HERE.
WEB EXTRA: See The Mayor’s Presentation Slides (.pdf)
New York City will be opening up an application process for restaurants to have outdoor dining on an entire block closed to traffic as part of the city’s open streets initiative.
The city’s daily indicators all continue to be below thresholds, meaning the city is “holding the line” in the battle against COVID-19.