CITY HALL – Speaker Christine C. Quinn, together with the Council’s Budget Negotiation Team, today announced that the Council will seek no new programmatic funding in FY09. In light of the downward turn in the economy, the Council’s main priority going into budget negotiations will be to see a decrease in the money spent on city services, while simultaneously restoring cuts to core services. If additional cuts are found and if the portion of mayoral cuts to what the Council deems core services is restored, the Council may expand funding to the more successful programs.

“As we enter more uncertain economic times, we need to set fiscal priorities in the budget,” said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “Putting a moratorium on new initiatives will allow us to cut back on city spending and to focus on restoring funds to essential services that New Yorker’s already depend on everyday.”

“We face an uncertain fiscal climate,” said Majority Whip Inez Dickens. “It is important that we preserve and strengthen essential human service programs that are already in place to help communities across our City. It is for this reason that I concur with the Speaker’s decision not to initiate any new initiatives for FY 09.”

“As our economic projections get less and less certain, we need to find a way to fund critical city services without the added revenue,” said Majority Leader Joel Rivera. “Now is not the time to add untested programs to the budget. We need to focus on maintaining the services New Yorkers depend on already.”

“As a member of the Council’s leadership, I want to emphasize that we are working hard to improve our institution and regain the trust of all New Yorkers,” stated Deputy Majority Leader Leroy Comrie. “Our foremost priority is to protect the most vulnerable New Yorkers and enhance opportunities for working class residents to maintain a better quality of life, while tightening our belts amidst the current recession.”

“The current economic climate presents us with some major challenges,” said Assistant Majority Leader Lewis Fidler. “We need to find a way to maintain services at a time when many agencies are being asked to make tough cuts to their budgets. Our first priority has to be restoring the services we need and holding the line on taxes.”

“In these current economic times,” said Assistant Majority Leader Bill de Blasio, “it is prudent for the Council not to begin funding new initiatives but to focus on restoring funding to the already existing initiatives providing vital services to our City.”

“People across our city are making tough choices everyday because of the downturn in our economy, and it’s time the Council did the same,” said Black, Latino and Asian Caucus Co-Chair Robert Jackson. “Rather than looking to new initiatives, we need to balance our budget while maintaining existing city services.”

“At a time when New Yorkers have to juggle the cost of the basic necessities like food and fuel it is wholly appropriate that we fight to maintain the 7% reduction in property taxes and the $400 rebate for homeowners,” said Council Member Michael McMahon. “Therefore we cannot afford any new initiatives and our decision not to do so is the right one for Staten Islanders and all New Yorkers.

“I am committed to maintaining the current level of service that the City is providing,” said Finance Committee Chair David Weprin. “We are facing hard economic times and in order to maintain essential services, we cannot look to fund any new initiatives this budget cycle.”