City Hall – City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Finance Committee Chair Julissa Ferreras and the City Council today released the Council’s response to the Fiscal Year 2015 Executive Budget.

Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito:
“The Executive Budget presented today is a strong start and represents the shared commitment between the Council and the Administration to deliver for all New Yorkers while remaining fiscally responsible.

Increasing anti-gun violence initiatives, expanding summer youth employment opportunities, supporting New Yorkers as they continue to rebuild from Hurricane Sandy and reducing small business fines are all critical measures the Council has long fought for and that will keep ours a City for all people.

The City Council has long made helping and reducing the homeless population a priority and we are pleased that the de Blasio Administration shares these goals. Too many New Yorkers have been left to languish in shelters without a plan to transition into permanent housing, and rental subsidies will help reduce the City’s homeless population, save taxpayers money and provide relief to families in need.

We commend the Administration for putting an end to the unfair practice that forced NYCHA to spend $70 million per year for policing in its developments. NYCHA is New York City’s largest landlord and eliminating this practice will allow NYCHA to use more of its resources to address the repair backlog and improve its infrastructure. We are also happy to see the Executive Budget includes funding to rehabilitate Brooklyn Narcotics North and Manhattan’s 13th Precinct, as well as funding to construct a new precinct in the South Bronx.

While we thank the de Blasio Administration for incorporating many priorities identified by the Council in our preliminary budget response, we remain concerned that several critical items were left out of the Executive Budget.

We are disappointed to see that while the Executive Budget addresses skyrocketing overtime costs for the NYPD, it does not include funding to hire the additional 1,000 police officers needed to reduce understaffing at City precincts and provide support for Vision Zero.

We are also remain distressed that the Executive Budget did not eliminate school lunch fees for New York City’s school children. Eliminating lunch fees are a simple, financially prudent way to address hunger in our City and ensure sure that every child can focus on learning.

Additionally, we are greatly concerned with the lack of transparency in units of appropriation in the Executive Budget. Dividing funding for Universal Pre-Kindergarten, Elementary and Middle Schools and High Schools into smaller units of appropriation would increase accountability and transparency in a massive budget, making it easier to track categories of spending and ensure that all school funding is scheduled in the appropriate budget code.

As we continue the budget negotiation process and begin our Executive Budget hearings on May 15th, we look forward to working with the Administration on a sound budget that balances the City’s finances with our progressive vision for New York City.”

Finance Committee Chair Julissa Ferreras:
“As Chair of the Council’s Committee on Finance, I am pleased to see that Mayor de Blasio’s Executive Budget contains many of the proposals first voiced by Council Members and the public during our first series of budget hearings, and then ultimately culminated into the Council’s Budget Response.

Next week, the Council will begin our second round of budget hearings, and Speaker Mark-Viverito and I look forward to working again with our colleagues in the City Council to ensure that our proposals are incorporated into the Adopted Budget. I will be working with the Council’s Budget Negotiating Team alongside Speaker Mark-Viverito to ensure the Adopted Budget reflects the needs of all New Yorkers as the Council continues to strive towards making our great City and its operations better by bringing increased transparency to the City’s budget, protecting the City’s workforce, and creating greater agency efficiency, among other enhancements.”

The Fiscal Year 2015 Executive Budget included funding for many of the critical issues the Council prioritized in its Preliminary Budget Response including:

Ending the MOU Requiring NYCHA to Pay for NYPD Patrol in Its Developments

The Council has long called on the City to dissolve the MOU requiring NYCHA to pay for the NYPD to patrol its developments.

“I applaud the Mayor for his historic commitment to preserving public housing. The relief from payments to the NYPD is an important step toward ending the City’s disinvestment from NYCHA. But more must be done to offset the 300 million dollars in payments that NYCHA makes to the City every year. At a time of high crime in public housing, the Mayor and the Council must commit to a citywide capital investment in the safety of NYCHA residents,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres, Chair of the Committee on Public Housing.

“For the upcoming fiscal year, NYCHA will not have to pay for police services and it can better address the repair backlog in developments across the City. I commend the Administration for taking this important step,” said Council Member Rosie Mendez.

Increasing Funding for Innovative Anti-Gun Violence Initiatives

In the Council’s preliminary budget, the Council urged the Administration to expand the Council’s anti-gun violence initiative to ten additional communities, a priority reflected in the FY 2015 Executive Budget.

“I am very happy to see a $6 million baseline in Mayor de Blasio’s executive budget proposal to support the work of the Task Force to Combat Gun Violence. Hopefully this funding, as well as a shift in philosophy to create a collaborative effort with multiple City agencies, will have a strong impact on lowering the rate of gun violence in our city,” said Council Member Jumaane D. Williams (D-Brooklyn), Deputy Leader and Co-Chair of the Task Force to Combat Gun Violence.

“Today’s additional $6 million that the Mayor put into the Budget to prevent and deter gun violence in the City of New York is a clear indication that we need to rebuild and educate communities on the profound effect of gun violence. We will not tolerate individuals who think the use of guns is a solution to problems. I applaud Mayor Bill de Blasio in implementing funding to combat this epidemic in violence,” said Council Member Andy King, co-chair of the City Council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus (BLAC).

“Today Mayor Bill de Blasio took a significant and positive step in providing $6 million to help eradicate gun violence in New York City. As Co-Chair of the Gun Violence Task Force, I’m pleased to see this allocation of resources will provide the means for expansion of the kind of services that would help reduce and eliminate gun related incidents in our communities,” said Council Member Fernando Cabrera, Co-Chair of the Task Force to Combat Gun Violence.

“Increasing funding for the Council’s anti-gun violence initiative will help keep New York City’s streets safe and I thank the Administration for their support as we work to expand this critical program,” said Council Member Rosie Mendez.

Investing in New York City’s Police Department

The Executive Budget includes funding to rehabilitate Brooklyn Narcotics North, Manhattan’s 13th Precinct and construct an additional precinct in the Bronx.

“An investment in New York City’s Police Department is an investment in New York City,” said Council Public Safety Committee Chair Vanessa Gibson. “The new precinct called for in the 2015 Executive Budget will be a welcome addition to the Bronx.”

Expanding Summer Jobs for City’s Youth

The Preliminary Budget allocated funding for just 28,000 summer youth job openings, the lowest number in the last five years. At the urging of the Council, additional slots for the Summer Youth Employment Program were added to the Executive Budget.

“As Chairman of the City Council Committee on Youth Services, I would like to thank the hard work and support of Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Mayor Bill DeBlasio for full restoration of the Summer Youth Employment Program,” said Council Member Mathieu Eugene. “For many young people, this is an opportunity to build a resume with real work experience, to collect references, and to be exposed to the routine of being fully employed. Our youth do not want to spend their summers in the streets, exposed to negative influences. They yearn for the chance to walk a positive path and to earn an honest wage to be independent, save for college, and to support their families. Investing in the Summer Youth Employment Program is an investment in the futures of our young people. I hope the City continues to support this and other initiatives that give youth the opportunity to develop skills to succeed in life.”

“The Mayor is taking a big step forward for the youth of our city by including increased funding for the Summer Youth Employment Program in his Executive Budget ,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. “SYEP helps connect young people with paid jobs and skills that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. As many communities in our city still face high unemployment, especially our young people, this is one of the greatest measures we can take as a city to stem the tide of inequality going forward. I commend Mayor de Blasio, as well as Speaker Mark-Viverito, for recognizing this as a priority in our FY15 Budget.”

Increasing Funding for Road Resurfacing

Deteriorating roads threaten the safety of New Yorkers and the City’s infrastructure and the Council is pleased the Executive Budget incorporates the Council’s recommendations to increase funding for road resurfacing.

“It is no secret that our City’s underground infrastructure is aging, and that roads that protect those utilities have been badly battered by a harsh winter,” said Council Member Daniel R. Garodnick. “These funds are an important investment toward keeping our roads in good repair, and, significantly, protecting our gas pipes, water mains, and electrical wiring underground.

Reducing Small Business Fines

The City Council has worked extensively to reduce punitive fines for small businesses. The 8 percent decrease in fine revenue for the DOH and DCA is a result of the Council’s continued leadership on this issue.

“The Mayor’s plan to reduce revenues generated by business fines is a major victory for those of us who have been fighting on behalf of our small businesses,” said Council Member Robert E. Cornegy, Jr., Chair of the City Council’s Committee on Small Business. “Businesses have been crying out to our city government, telling us that they cannot provide needed services and local jobs while being subjected to unpredictable and punitive fines. This portion of Mayor deBlasio’s first Executive Budget demonstrates that the new administration has heard us and is committed to supporting small business success. I applaud the Mayor for making this important commitment.”

“I want to thank Mayor de Blasio and his administration for their work to put forth the Executive Budget. I look forward to a thoughtful review during our hearings and the negotiating process to deliver an on-time budget,” said Council Member Vincent J. Gentile. “I applaud the Mayor for making our small business owners a priority by proposing a 44% reduction in Department of Health fines and a 21% reduction in Department of Consumer Affairs fines. We must never forget that small businesses are the backbone of our economy and in order to help these businesses grow and succeed, agencies and their inspectors must work with business owners rather than attempt to catch them off guard and penalize them.

“The Mayor’s announcement about his plans to reduce the amount of revenue generated by the violations issued to small businesses is great news. These fines, some of which were given for minor or arbitrary offenses, were choking the life out of these businesses and created an atmosphere of fear that did not allow them to thrive,” said Council Member Rafael L. Espinal, Jr., the Chair of the Council’s Committee on Consumer Affairs. “We want these small business to succeed and today the Mayor has sent a clear message to them that the city will no longer view them as a means to generate revenue but that they are a vital component of the economic engine that drives this city and they should be treated fairly and respectfully. I commend and thank him for following through and taking action on an issue that he has worked on for years to correct. ”

Supporting Sandy Recovery Efforts

The FY 2015 Executive Budget reflects the Council’s shared commitment to supporting New York City’s Sandy Recovery Efforts.

“This will help relieve some of the enormous financial pressure that many storm victims are still feeling. There is no reason that these homeowners should get hit with bureaucratic fees for necessary repairs and construction,” said Council Member Mark Treyger. “I am pleased that our city’s leadership is recognizing the urgent need to provide real assistance to New Yorkers who lost so much to Sandy. Our work will not be complete until every victim has received the help they deserve, and this plan is another step towards that goal.”

“More than one year after the devastation of Superstorm Sandy, the recovery and rebuilding process for many residents and small businesses is far from over,” said Council Member Margaret Chin. “ I thank the City for allocating much-needed resources to the Build it Back Program, which will help ensure that both new and existing housing and infrastructure are resilient, sustainable, and ready for any future weather emergencies.”

Increasing Funding for Senior Case Management

The City Council’s Preliminary Budget Response highlighted the need to increase funding to reduce case management loads for the Department of Aging, a measure included in the FY 2015 Executive Budget.

“As Chair of the Aging Committee, I applaud Mayor de Blasio for listening to our concerns and making New York City’s seniors a priority in the FY 2015 Executive Budget,” said Council Aging Committee Chair Margaret Chin. “For too long, case management agencies have been trying to serve New York’s growing senior population with a bare-bones budget, with each caseworker juggling 80 cases or more. Including $2.6 million in the budget for case management reduction will allow us to begin reducing caseloads to 65:1 and enable our senior caseworkers to provide the level of support older adults need and deserve from the City.”

Expanding Resources for Homeless and LGBT Youth

The Council remains committed to providing resources to crisis shelters for homeless and LGBT Youth and ensuring that New Yorkers with HIV/AIDS are able to secure affordable housing in New York City.

“Increasing funding to provide shelter for more runaway and homeless LGBT youth will help protect some of our City’s most vulnerable New Yorkers and I commend the Administration for taking up this important initiative,” said Council Member Rosie Mendez.

“The City Council is committed to helping all New Yorkers in need and I am pleased that the Executive Budget includes critical funding to increase shelter beds for runaway and homeless youth,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres.

“I’m pleased the Executive Budget increases funding to help runaway and homeless LGBT youth,” said Council Member Corey Johnson. “Expanding the number of crisis shelter beds in our City will help ensure all children have a safe place to stay.”

“Expanding the City’s efforts to shelter runaway and homeless LGBT youth has been one of my top priorities since I first joined the Council,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca. “I’m thrilled the Administration will be adding more crisis shelter beds for children in need.”

“The LGBT Caucus has long called for additional funding to help runaway and homeless LGBT youth and I’m proud to see the Administration take up the cause,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm.

“Fully funding the 30 percent HIV/AIDs Services Administration rent cap will ensure New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDs can live with dignity and I’m happy to Administration shares the Council’s support for this important program,” said Council Member Corey Johnson.

Permanently Reducing New York City’s Homeless Population

The City Council has championed the need to create a rental assistance program to help New Yorkers permanently transition out of shelter.

“We must work together to permanently reduce New York City’s homeless population,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “I’m thrilled that with the support of Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio, New York City will be able to launch a new rental assistance pilot program to help homeless families transition out of shelter.”

Supporting the Council’s Plan for the New York City’s Municipal Identification Program
The New York City Council held a hearing last week on legislation to create a municipal identification program in New York City. The Council is pleased the Executive Budget includes $8 million to create and the implement the program.

“The New York City Identification Program will help ensure all New Yorkers are able to access critical City resources and I’m pleased the Administration has included $8 million for the creation of this much needed program championed by the City Council,” said Immigration Committee Chair Carlos Menchaca. “During our next round of budget oversight hearings, we will closely examine implementation costs to determine whether the necessary funding is in place to roll out the most successful municipal ID card program in the country.”

“Municipal identification cards will make it easier for all New Yorkers to sign a lease, get a library card and go about their daily lives and I thank the Administration for including needed funding for the Council’s groundbreaking legislation in the 2015 Executive Budget,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm.

Creating New Jobs at the Brooklyn Army Terminal
Expanding the Brooklyn Army Terminal will create new jobs for New Yorkers.

“Industrial assets like the Brooklyn Army Terminal (BAT) provide a necessary home for the living wage jobs the industrial sector provides,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca. “ I am pleased to see that the Administration has dedicated $100 million in capital funding to BAT. This kind of investment in our industrial infrastructure will ensure that Sunset Park, and the City as a whole, has the high-quality industrial real estate necessary to promote innovation and economic growth.”
“The $100 million allocated for the expansion of the Brooklyn Army Terminal is a win-win for tenants in the business of innovation in Brooklyn,” said Council Member Vincent J. Gentile. “Nurturing these enterprises specializing in a varied degree of industries will generate more jobs and greater opportunities.”

Supporting Arts Education
The Executive Budget includes $20 million to support arts education, a measure called for by the Council.

“Mayor de Blasio’s inclusion of $20 million in his Executive Budget for certified arts teachers and expanding arts in schools is an enormous step forward toward increasing cultural access for kids in every neighborhood,” said New York City Council Majority Leader and Chair of the Cultural Affairs Committee, Jimmy Van Bramer. “I am proud to have led the fight for this funding to be included in the Council’s preliminary budget response and I want to thank Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Finance Chair Julissa Ferreras and all my Council colleagues for joining me in this call for funding for the arts in our City’s schools. I also want to thank New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer for his report which highlights the need for this funding. This action will give children in underserved neighborhoods the ability to experience the joy and wonder of art in their schools and classrooms. As a result, their education will be better and more well-rounded as they prepare for the future.”

“As a former public school teacher, I know first-hand the importance of making sure all students receive a well-rounded education and I’m pleased the Executive Budget includes critical funding to support arts education in our City’s schools,” said Council Education Committee Chair Daniel Dromm.