As prepared for delivery

Thank you Chair Ferreras for those kind words. My name is Melissa Mark-Viverito and I am Speaker of the New York City Council.

Today is the first day of hearings on the Preliminary Budget. While these hearings are not new to the Council or the Mayor’s Office, the participants and values have changed.

This will be a truly thorough analysis of the budget like we’ve never done before.

I am happy to say that real change has finally come to the City’s annual budget adoption process.

With this new start, this Council and the Administration will look at agency spending in its totality, evaluating each agency for efficiencies, assessing each agency for best practices and ensuring that each agency is leveraging the City’s spending power.

No longer is the conversation relegated to cuts or Council initiatives.

The conversation will be substantive and thorough – something New Yorkers can be proud of.

We can now discuss whether an agency’s proposed budget truly reflects its mission and goals.
This is a necessary and essential reform.
As elected officials, we are all responsible for every taxpayer dollar and we want to ensure that every one is spent in the most targeted and effective way to reflect our shared values and priorities.
I am pleased to see that the Preliminary Budget includes:
• Funding for universal Pre-k, which would provide free, high-quality, full-day pre-kindergarten to 55,000 four-year olds in the upcoming school year, and 73,000 four-year olds in the next;
• $62 million dollars in child care which would provide child care services to 4,200 children, ranging from newborns to 4 year olds;
• $5.5 million dollars for case management, which would reduce the workload of the case managers at the Department for the Aging from 110 to 1, to 80 to 1, which means our seniors will be afforded the time and care they deserve;
• $43 million dollars for the fire department to prevent the closure of 20 fire companies, and retain 505 firefighters, which would mean faster response times, and ultimately a safer New York City; and
• $190 million dollars to the Department of Youth and Community Development, which would double the number of middle school youth served by afterschool programs to 120,000 across 512 schools starting in September.

The list goes on and on.

These are real changes, and these changes reflect the values of New York City, and affect the lives of every New Yorker.
With that said, the Administration and the Council can do more.

We have the opportunity to make more changes, meaningful changes that will improve the lives of every New Yorker so that everyone in this City will be proud to call this City home.

Over the next few weeks, the Council will hold budget hearings to hear from agencies and the public about the budget’s impact on city services and the quality of life for New Yorkers. It is through these hearings that the Council will learn more about the City’s priorities, and work with the Administration, as partners in government, to make sure the budget is reflective of those priorities. I am excited that with a new Administration, and new leadership in the Council, we can finally adopt a budget that is responsive to the City’s needs.

In addition to hearing from the Administration and the public, we
will also hear from the City’s two independent fiscal monitors: the New
York City Comptroller, and the Independent Budget Office, who will add to the conversation about the City’s priorities, goals, and constraints.

We want to hear from everyone, and everyone’s voice will be heard.

Today, we have a long day of hearings, so, in the interest of time,
I will turn the mic back over to the Finance Committee Chair, Julissa