May 8, 2014
Mayor Bill de Blasio: You know my staff asked me what I wanted for my birthday. I was thinking maybe it would be something like a cake, something traditional. Instead they said, ‘Let’s do an executive budget presentation.’ So you’re getting to experience it with me.
I want to express my appreciation to our OMB Director Dean Fuleihan and to his extraordinary staff. They have worked intense hours over these last weeks and months. And we have been here burning the midnight oil many a time. And a thank you to all the members of the administration who contributed so much to the process of arriving at this executive budget. It’s been a painstaking process, but one that I think will be reflected positively in the product.
We are going to go over this. I’ll give my remarks, Dean will give some remarks. We’ll go to questions. Just emphasizing from the beginning, all questions today will be on the topic of the budget.
Again, the executive budget for Fiscal 2015 will be $73.9 billion, $73.9 billion. We arrived at this budget with really a fantastic partnership from the City Council, from Speaker Mark-Viverito and all of her colleagues, and from working with elected officials and community leaders all over the city as we developed a number of our initiatives. And we’ll continue to have a collaborative process for the remainder of the budget season, leading up to adoption in June. The City Council, of course, will start its hearings soon and work with us towards adoption.
Now, let me state something at the outset. Budgets are not just a collection of numbers. They are not just accounting documents. They reflect fundamental values. And if you ask someone what they fund, you will be able to see what they actually believe in. I think in this budget, you will see clearly what I believe in, what this administration believes in.
I like to quote some of my heroes, one of them in particular, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. He said he had a “golden rule” for his administration. He said, “Do after the election as you said you would do before the election.”
I think that typifies a lot of what we’ve tried to do in these months. And it’s something we believe in and that has led us to creating a budget that reflects three core values, the same that we talked about at the time of the preliminary budget – a budget that is responsible, progressive and honest.
Responsible, because we know the first thing we have to achieve in the budget process is to be fiscally prudent, to be smart about where we stand now and where we need to stand in the future. We, in this budget, are straightforward about the structural deficits we face going forward. We’re straightforward about the challenges we face, and some of the advantages we bring to bear. And we’re sober about what we need to address and we’ve tried to show that approach with our labor contracts, taking a situation that for years was unresolved and actually getting to the kind of resolution that allows us to plug in specific numbers. You’ll see throughout this presentation a lot of things that were not clear in previous years and budgets are suddenly becoming clear, because for the first time you’re going to have real numbers.
And because of the labor settlement that we’re in the process of achieving – obviously I hasten to add, there are ratification votes ahead and individual union contracts ahead – but because we’ve made this substantial progress, we’re able now to project a real budget – not just a theory, but something that we believe will hold over the years ahead.
I remind you that we inherited 152 unresolved labor contracts – again, an unprecedented reality in the history of this city. Some dated as far back as 2008. There had never been such a difficult task in terms of labor relations in the history of this city. There had never been such a fiscal uncertainty when it came to labor as to have all of our contracts open. And I credit again Tony Shorris and Bob Linn, Dean Fuleihan, Stan Brezenoff, all of the individuals – especially Bob Linn, who put in such an extraordinary effort to resolve these contracts and get us out of that greatness and confusion and into a situation where we had some certainty for the future of this city.
And the UFT contract, obviously pending ratification – I’ll note that there was a very – an overwhelmingly positive vote in favor the contract at the UFT delegate assembly, but we know there’s a fuller ratification process ahead. The contract achieved a number of things that had been deemed nearly impossible by various pundits – obviously resolving a host of past issues, making sure that we had an affordable plan going forward – what will be over the years that were not covered by the element particular to the years 2008/2009, but for the years thereafter, the seven years, the contract provides 10 percent increases over that seven-year timeframe to finance with a number of achievements in healthcare savings that we’re very, very proud of.
Again, we’ve talked about the UFT budget. We’ve also talked about the fact that those healthcare savings are extrapolated over all the municipal contracts – again, pending ratification, pending details – that would amount to $3.4 billion in healthcare savings over the term of these contracts. We also want to clarify, there will be an additional billion dollars made available from the Health Stabilization Fund. This is another step of progress that came from a productive and constructive relationship between management and labor. So that’s $3.4 billion, again, extrapolating across all the unions, across the whole timeframe in healthcare savings, plus an additional billion dollars that has been freed up from the health stabilization fund.
I want to emphasize that these savings are enforceable by arbitration. We are absolutely convinced that the process will guarantee that these savings are achieved. And this labor deal with the UFT is not only fair to our educators but includes a number of important reforms that we think will greatly improve and modernize our school system.
We know – I always qualify that there’s a lot of steps ahead, but we also know in the history of New York City labor relations that the first major agreement has generally set the pattern for later ones. So we believe that this agreement is a very, very promising start.
Now, at the time of the preliminary budget that was the number one question mark, whether we could get to a labor settlement and when and how. There were also major question marks at that time in February regarding state and federal aid.
Well, on the state front, we’re very appreciative and very proud of the achievements, obviously, crucially, the important funding for UPK, the largest school aid increase in many years – and that school aid made flexible so it could be used in part to achieve some of what we need to initially for after-school. So, where there had been giant question marks before, now we have a number of good answers that came out of the process in Albany.
And on the federal front, although a number of question marks remain, one major piece of progress that was achieved in recent months was the Medicaid waiver. That will play a fundamental role is securing healthcare for communities all over the city going forward. And I want to particularly thank Governor Cuomo for his extraordinary efforts to achieve that waiver.
Now, I just want to say at the outset, there are some – I’ve met them over the years – who have trouble equating fiscal responsibility with progressive values. I think the two must go hand in hand. I think part of being an honest progressive is recognizing the world as it is and achieving the kinds of savings that allow us to actually do the good work of government consistently. So, there is nothing unprogressive about being fiscally prudent. In fact, it’s necessary. And, if you believe in the positive role of government as I do, then you need a strong and stable foundation to allow us to take the steps we need to to create more fairness in people’s lives. A government that is wracked by fiscal instability simply can’t do that. A government that has a strong plan going forward is in a position to do a lot of good for people.
Another one of my heroes, President Franklin Roosevelt, had a very simple point on this matter. I’d like to quote it. I think it says a lot. He said, “Too often liberal governments have been wrecked on the rocks of lose fiscal policy.” I know that that quote warms the hearts of my OMB brothers and sisters, but it’s true. And so we intend to be both progressive and fiscally prudent and this document, I think, provides evidence that we are on that road.
Let’s talk about the city economy. It’s generally strong and we have really made great progress at diversifying our economy. And I give credit to the previous administration for their efforts and we’re going to expand upon those. But the improvements we’ve experienced economically are uneven and, in large measure, fragile. And we need to be honest about that and we need to be cautious about that.
Obviously the benefits of our economy are not being shared by a number of our fellow citizens, and we certainly cannot be sure that economic times will remain getting better. We have to be ready for the potential that they might dip down again. Now, if you look at GDP growth, it's recovered from the negative growth of the Great Recession, and forecast to continue to rise over the next few years, finally climbing above 3 percent in 2015. This will be the first time we've seen that since the beginning of the Great Recession. Again, cause for some optimism, but cautious optimism in our view. Because you can also see how fitful the recovery has been, and how incomplete. And again, very serious disconnect from some of what you see there in that chart that might cause a sense that things are really happening for people across the board versus the reality we know on the ground that's much more complex. Our city's gross product, similarly, has finally exceeded pre-recession peak levels. This is the first time since the beginning of the recession – and that was in 2013 – we finally exceeded that level. Again, a reason for cautious optimism, but it took quite a while to get there from a crisis that began in 2008.
Now, our city industries, almost all of them are up now from their low point of 2009 – some only up a little, as you can see. But I want to emphasize that much of the recovery has happened with some of the industries, unfortunately, that have the lowest paying jobs. I'm going to step over here for a second. As you see, leisure & hospitality in 2012, the average wage – $37,000. Retail, average way – $36,000. Other services, average wage – $44,000. So, some of the areas that are strong also form the lower-wage, lower-benefit jobs.
Our message, and it's clear in this budget, it's clear in so much of the work that Deputy Mayor Glen is doing, is we have to build our economy, we have to expand the economy of this city, further diversify it, create a large number of new jobs, while pushing up the wage and benefit levels, trying to particularly intensify those sectors that do a better job at providing strong wages and benefits. Those would obviously include the technology sector, and the film and TV sectors. So, we are focused on job growth, both quantitatively and qualitatively. Because although we appreciate the creation of any and all jobs, this chart point outs that we've got to do better on the qualitative side.
And, we're focused on all the tools we have, and I remind you that even in our huge affordable housing plan, there is a big employment impact in construction, and in permanent jobs, in the work we're doing to recover from Sandy, and foster resiliency, there are great opportunities for job creation for our residents, and we're going to take advantage of each of those opportunities.
Looking now at construction levels, and this is reflected by building permits. Construction levels still well below pre-recession levels – another indication of progress, but fragility. We again believe that as we progress with our affordable housing plan, you'll start to see some real movement in this number. And we're very proud of the fact that this plan will give a great boost to this sector. And I also got unemployment rates, and this is as of January of this year, the city is still about a point above the national average. The United States now at 6.6 percent in January, New York City at 7.8 percent. This also shows real improvement since the height of the great recession, but I hasten to add, this is still too high an unemployment rate – 7.8 percent for the city is still higher than it – than we want it to be, and then we will allow it to be, if all of our efforts hopefully have the effect that we intend them to.
And we've also seen in the reports that have just come out recently, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics – unemployment rate, unfortunately, is understating the problem on the ground. A lot of workers have been dropping out of the workforce, so nationally, workforce participation rates are below 63 percent. That is the lowest in 30 years. So, some progress but also real indication of other realities we have to be sober about.
Nationally, 783,000 quote-unquote, so-called “discouraged workers” were indicated last month. That’s people who are no longer looking for work. And there’s a qualitative issue here too. Salaries have been falling. From 2007 to 2012, wages fell for the bottom 70 percent of workers according to income. So even as productivity continued to grow, wages fell for a very, very large swath of the people of this city and the country. That’s based on a study by the Economic Policy Institute.
And, we’ve talked about it before, we need to talk about it again – Income inequality – large problem, a growing problem globally, nationally. Nationally, income inequality is at levels not seen since the 1920s. Here’s the picture in New York City.
In the last ten years, the top 1 percent of earners in this city have taken in a far larger percentage of all income, while middle class and lower income New Yorkers have been in a stagnant position. We obviously are focused on bringing up the wages and benefits of those lower income and middle class New Yorkers, and addressing the expenses in their lives with tools like the Affordable Housing Plan, and using all of the tools we have. Obviously, paid-sick leave has an impact on benefit levels. A host of tools we have to address this phenomenon, and start to arrest it. Looking at the overall reality of our people, we’ve seen over the last five years this growing trend confirmed in a report last year by the Bloomberg Administration, just reconfirmed by the same NYC CEO report – about 46 percent of New Yorkers at or near the poverty level. So we see a reality, a kind of dual reality where one swath of the city doing ever better, another swath of the city really in a delicate and fragile position that is not improving, and we have to address urgently.
Now let’s look at where we stand in terms of this economic recovery. This is a very interesting chart. I did not know – and since this is my birthday I’ll indicate this – this was one of the greatest recoveries in history, two months before I was born [Inaudible] contributed in my own way. [Inaudible] And here is a lot of the Clinton years, 10 full years recovery. But this is more typically what an economic recovery looks like. But right now, right around the midpoint, this is where we stand today. So, the folks at OMB will tell you we have to be cautious when you see a recovery that has moved for this long – and thank God has made some progress, not as much as we would hope, but some progress – you have to start asking the question: When does that start to turn? And there are some economists who think that this expansion may be running out of steam. We are sober about the fact that when recoveries end there’s not – you don’t get a memo alerting you to the fact. It just starts to happen, and that’s part of why you’ll see some careful measures in this budget, to guard our fiscal future.
Now we’ll give you an overview of our financial plan. We’ve been here now just over four months, and in that time we have addressed a series of very serious fiscal issues and management issues that were ignored for quite a while that needed to be addressed. You’re going to see these numbers play out over years. They had to be addressed. They had to be addressed once and for all. We had to get to a point of fiscal normalcy and normalcy in labor management relations. And we were devoted to the notion that we could achieve it, and that we could achieve it without a property tax increase. And I’m proud to say we were able to achieve these exchanges without a property tax increase. So therefore the budget – the executive budget – is balanced for the current fiscal year, Fiscal ’14, and is balanced for next year, Fiscal ’15.
Again, emphasizing the budget estimates reflect the UFT pattern – the 10 percent increase over seven years, again pending ratifications. But it really removes what was the greatest source of uncertainty in this process. The rating agency Moody’s noted in its analysis of the labor deal that, if approved, it would mean, “Resolution of a longstanding budgetary risk for the city.” It’s the simplest way to put it from one of the entities that watches our finances closely. This resolves something that was outstanding, that was creating a deep uncertainty. We’re proud to now be moving in the right direction.
This budget realistically acknowledges the risks we face. So I’ve talked about the federal funding dynamics. There will likely be additional cuts because of the sequestration. And that will reduce federal funds. We all know that sadly a number of the areas of federal spending that are targeted by the sequestration hit New York City very hard. We clearly are engaged in ongoing conversations with the federal administration on Sandy relief, and those issues are unresolved. We know for a fact that not only are recoveries – economic recoveries – uncertain, we know that tax revenue is – by definition – always uncertain. And we saw in our neighboring states some recent actions that indicated this, particularly in the case of New Jersey which now has an $800 million budget deficit because the state had been too generous in their assumptions about personal income tax revenue. We are being careful in our assumptions because we want to stay ahead of the situation.
Now, looking ahead, we continue to face multi-billion dollar budget gaps in the out years. This is the structural deficit that we know we still face. The good news is these are manageable deficits. We’re confident that we will be able to handle them in time and they’re well below the deficits that we’ve seen in the last decade or so. Let me indicate here, this is Fiscal ’16, just over $2 billion; Fiscal ’17, just over $2 billion, Fiscal ’18 just over $3 billion. And again, you’ll see the comparison to the average over the previous 12 years. The average for what would be the third year of the budget, $3 billion, $3.7 billion. So in comparison, we feel that we’re in a strong position, but we know we have real work to do to close those deficits going forward.
As I said, the focus of a lot of what we do is to strengthen the city’s economy – in general, to increase the number of jobs and economic activity to make sure that wages and benefits go up to address the issues of income inequality and poverty. All of the pieces fit. The signature program of pre-K and after-school does a lot for our children in terms of their future economically. It does a lot for parents right now in terms of providing services they need, that for many parents come out of their pocket when it comes to pre-K and after-school. That won’t be the case going forward for so many parents. It gives a lot of hardworking people, a lot of single parents in particular an opportunity to work and have flexibility so they can do better economically.
And the investments that we’re making in CUNY in particular focus on getting jobs for New Yorkers now. We’re investing $20 million in STEM education, in two-year colleges and community colleges at CUNY to provide a real and immediate opportunity for New Yorkers to get the kind of training they need to go right into the tech industry – and that is not only important in terms of getting our people to jobs, but these, again, are often quality, good-paying jobs. And one of the things I’m most excited about in this budget is that focus on CUNY and that focus on credentialing more New Yorkers to participate in the growth of the tech industry.
The affordable housing plan – on every level – what it will do for families in this city, in terms of the bottom line of their personal economics making the number one expense in their life more affordable, the jobs it will create. Again, 200,000 is enough to house almost half a million New Yorkers.
Paid sick leave as I mentioned, again, reaching over half a million more people now, providing a little more economic stability and relief.
And the infrastructure work we do also is crucial for a thriving economy. The infrastructure efforts will create jobs in and of themselves. And we’re going to make special efforts to make sure those jobs go to New York City residents as often as possible and folks who have been left out of the economy. But we also know – and we see it all over the country – if you don’t attend to your infrastructure needs, your economy cannot continue to grow. So you see a major investment in infrastructure in this budget.
Now, I hasten to add, you’re going to see a capital plan – a four-year capital plan here. This is the template we’re working with now. It is also the beginning of a process over the coming months that will lead to January of next year, when we will be providing a unified, ten-year capital plan. That will be a forward-looking approach that will really give us the long-term imprint for capital spending in this city. And so that’s going to be an intensive process over the coming months. OMB is working with all of our city agencies, but we start now with this four-year plan, which indicates a number of our investments.
This is a fundamentally progressive budget. There’s investment in our children, in improved economic opportunity, in affordable housing, in protection of the most vulnerable, and in increasing public safety for all New Yorkers.
Let’s talk about our children first. This budget, in every way, makes our children a priority. It does so through pre-K and after-school. It does through the investments we make in reducing overcrowding, getting our kids of trailers. And we do all this because we recognize that the current reality in our school system is unacceptable and it’s not working for so many of our kids. Again, one in four of our New York City students who graduated in 2013 were college-ready. Three-quarters of those who graduated were college-ready. Remember, only two-thirds of our kids graduate on time to begin with. So we know we have to make a series of fundamental changes. You see it in the capital plan, you see it in pre-K and after-school. You see it in the labor agreement, in areas like the efforts to retain quality teachers, efforts to focus our strongest teachers to areas of greatest need – a host of changes that are evident in both the budget and the labor contract to get at fundamental change in our schools.
And the pre-K initiative really undergirds so much of this, because it is literally the foundation. Someone said to me, after all the months and months I've talked about pre-K, someone said to me offhand the other day, ‘It's like when you build a house and you have to put down the foundation first.’ And I said, ‘Aha!’ That is the best way to explain it. It is the foundation that makes everything else possible in education, when it's done right. And we are moving ahead intensely with that investment – high quality, full-day pre-K. Now again, the goal for this year – 53,000 seats by September, moving up the following year to 73,000. We made sure we had the space, the teachers, all the pieces, and that program is moving aggressively. After-school – a crucial part of what we're doing – I've testified before to you about what it means, I've seen with my own eyes so many times the transcendent impact that after-school can have – extended learning, homework help, tutoring. Also, our law enforcement officials will be the first to say that quality after-school programs are intensely helpful to the police, and other law enforcement professionals, in helping give kids a positive option.
In Fiscal '15, we will reach nearly 100,000 young people with after-school programs at the middle school level. That’s a substantial increase – over 30,000 more seats. We're also going to be doubling the amount of summer after-school available to over 33,000 seats. As I mentioned, we're going to make a number of other investments through our capital plan in education. We're going to reduce the use of trailers, which has been a concern to so many parents and teachers. We are going to reduce overcrowding in a number of areas that have been particularly afflicted – Central Queens, Lower Manhattan, North Shore of Staten Island, and many others.
And we're going to focus on an area that's deserved attention for a long time, arts education. I hasten to say, a lot of our colleagues, elected officials, notably Comptroller Stringer, a number of community leaders, have really pushed this point. It's the right thing to do, but more importantly it's the state law. We're taking major steps towards coming into conformance with that law, and increasing arts education across our school system. And again, I've described the $20 million we're putting into the STEM program at CUNY for the community colleges – $20 million in Fiscal '15 that will reach 5,000 students. That number grows to $50 million a year in the out years.
Now, underlying this budget is a focus on creating more economic opportunity, and that takes many forms. One of them is in the area of small business. A number of you know that I, for years, including in my time as Public Advocate, pushed for a change in our small business policies. I thought the punitive, arbitrary approach to fines, the revenue-focused approach, was really undermining small business and the ability of small business to create jobs. We are making big changes – let me indicate here.
Overall fines [inaudible] Fiscal 2012 – you go back and look at some of our public advocate reports, we really zeroed in on that year. That's when after four or five years of fines at their peak, it’s $859 million a year across the set of agencies. We want to go down next year to $789 million across those agencies – that's an 8 percent overall decrease. But what's really powerful to look at – these two agencies, Department of Health and Consumer Affairs were, for many small businesses owners, really the focal point, where they saw the most new fines, the most arbitrary fines. Major increases, looking ahead to Fiscal '15, over that three year period, you'll see a 44 percent decrease in Health Department fines – 44 percent decrease in Health Department fines, 21 percent decrease in Consumer Affairs fines.
And, this is about stabilizing small business and helping small business to create more jobs. As I said, so much of what we're doing has a job creation element – affordable housing plan has a job creation element, Sandy relief and resiliency has a job creation element – all these pieces come together. The paid sick leave law, we are convinced, is actually going to strengthen our small businesses by creating a healthier workforce, more productivity, more consistency in employment, and longevity in employment, and we're going to be working closely with small business to make sure that law is implemented fairly with a strong education effort.
We’re also investing in some really wonderful job creation engines. The Brooklyn Army Terminal is going to get a major new investment over the next few years that will create more than 600 construction jobs and 1,800 permanent jobs. It will also continue to invest in what’s been one of the great success stories of this city, the Brooklyn Navy Yard. And this will all allow us to continue the efforts to diversify the city economy, including a focus on sophisticated manufacturing that really has shown great ability to thrive in the city, including areas such as 3-D printing.
Sandy relief is on the minds of so many New Yorkers for good reason. So many people are still waiting for what they deserve. This budget makes a very consistent and serious commitment to resolving the needs of the victims of Sandy. We announced last month an overhaul of our programs, a change and streamlining of the Build it Back approach. We moved $100 million of federal aid over to Build it Back to strengthen its efforts. We’ve moved a lot of staff out into the boroughs, into Staten Island and Brooklyn and Queens. We’ve added more buildings inspectors specifically devoted to working on properties affected by Sandy. We’ve cut back on bureaucracy. We’ve made a commitment to rebuild 500 homes – I’m sorry, to start to rebuild 500 homes and to get reimbursement checks out to 500 additional homeowners by the end of the summer. That process has started intensely.
We’re also trying to expand – and we will expand – financial relief for a number of the victims, making them not have to pay for water bills that they were charged, even though their houses were destroyed. Making them not have to pay for additional property tax increases because their homes were finally fixed. Making sure that they get rental assistance, making sure they get relief from city fees while they’re in the building back process. So a number of pieces that will come together to really improve what people are experiencing and getting them back on their feet. Again, in that process, in that reconstruction process, there will be a substantial number of jobs. We’re trying, to the maximum extent possible, to get those jobs to people who were affected by Sandy to maximize the impact of this funding.
You know what we’re doing on affordable housing, 200,000 units will be enough for 500,000 people. I like to quote this. I like to say this to inspire Alicia Glen – more than the population of Kansas City, more than the population of Miami, more than the population of Atlanta. Excellent, you’re inspired. In the process, 194,000 construction jobs, over 7,000 permanent jobs. The largest affordable housing plan in the history of New York City and the fastest, undoubtedly. And one that will really help people to address their fundamental needs and address their largest expense in their life.
But that’s not enough. We have to go at the loss we’ve been experiencing of affordable housing and rent-regulated housing, so we’re intensely beefing up HPD’s enforcement capacity. There will be a number more inspectors and code enforcement personnel to help go at those landlords who are not doing the right thing, and those landlords who might be harassing tenants and trying to move them out so they can get their buildings into a more lucrative situation outside of rent control. We’re going to fight very hard to make everyone abide by the law.
We’re also very proud – I think this is something that everyone in the administration was particularly devoted to – we are once again ensuring that NYCHA does not have to pay for its policing services. So the $70 million – a full year’s worth of policing services – we paid for through this budget, not out of NYCHA’s coffers. So that $70 million will go back to NYCHA for continued efforts at repairs and security.
We’re focused on a number of our fellow citizens who are most vulnerable. That includes folks who don’t have a roof over their head, folks who end up in shelter. We are adamant that we must reduce the number of people in shelter and get them good solutions. We also want to keep people who are in housing from slipping into shelter. We fully fund the 30 percent rent cap for HIV and AIDS patients. We have a variety of tools we’re going to use to help people from becoming homeless – anti-eviction and legal services and rent subsidizies. We have a variety of tools including those, and our new affordable housing plan, including the supportive housing element of it, and selective use of Section 8 vouchers and NYCHA units to help reduce the number of people in shelter. We’re going to bring all of those tools to bear to start to turn the tide.
We’re, as always, focused on protecting our children. I want to thank Deputy Mayor Lilliam Barrios-Paoli for leading the initiative with ACS. I want to thank Deputy Mayor Richard Buery for leading our Children’s Cabinet. These two leaders are very focused on changing the way we do things and ensuring that our children are protected more effectively and that the city is aggressive in those efforts.
We also are trying to protect children who do end up in shelter situations. And that’s why I’m proud to say that the Auburn shelter that, unfortunately, got so much attention because of what was wrong about it, that there are no longer any children in that shelter. Due to an intensive effort by the city, all children have been moved to more appropriate locations. We’re well under way doing the same with the Catherine Street shelter.
And something else that matters to a lot of us are runaway and homeless youth – in many cases, kids literally pushed out by their own families, including a number of LGBT youth. We have now 100 new beds for them in our shelter system, particularly devoted to the needs of those young people. And we want them to know that whatever they have experienced in their lives, that the City of New York will protect them.
You’ll also see a number of investments in the kinds of programs that will help to reduce health disparities in our city and do a lot more in the way of community outreach to proactively address health concerns.
Finally, we are adamant about continuing the wonderful trend over these last 20 years of a safer city. We’re continuing to keep crime low and make New York City safer in many ways. And it’s, again, not just about the extraordinary crime-fighting efforts of the NYPD – which we’re supporting in a number of ways in this budget – it’s also about the reality of traffic fatalities. It’s an issue I’ve cared about for a long time, but it really hit home for me when I saw the 2013 statistics. In a year when we had 333 homicides – a record year of great progress – still a long way to go of course, but a number that many years ago would’ve seemed impossible to reach – but in that same year of 333 homicides, 286 New Yorkers were killed in traffic accidents. And that really put a point on the fact that addressing these crashes is an incredibly fundamental part of keeping this city safe, particularly for our children.
The Vision Zero plan is being implemented intensely as we speak. It is already having a very positive effect. You’ll be seeing more red-light cameras ahead, continued efforts to lower speed limits, more speed humps and redesigns of streets, more NYPD enforcement. All of this is already having an effect. You’re going to see a lot more in Fiscal ’15 because of this budget.
And making our streets better is part of our plan too. We’re adding $49 million in capital funding for Fiscal ’15 for a total of $226 million for road resurfacing, for repaving. This will allow us, in Fiscal ’15 to resurface 1,000 lane miles of roads in this city. Something I’ve focused on a lot – our quality of our bridges – we’re adding an additional $346 million for bridge rehab to make sure our bridges are safe for the future.
We also recognize that the men and women of the NYPD who keep us safe have often had to struggle with insufficient facilities, so we’re making a major investment in upgrading police facilities. There will be a rehab of the 13 Precinct in Manhattan and the Brooklyn Narcotics Precinct. There will also be construction of a new precinct house in the South Bronx in the 40 Precinct – that’s a police precinct building that’s almost 100 years old. It deserves – the police officers there and the community deserve better, so we’re going to be building a brand new facility for the 40 Precinct.
And our devotion to an honest budget, by definition, means moving away more and more from the “budget dance”. I lived it for eight years as a council member. It didn’t make sense to a lot of us. It didn’t make sense to a lot of the hard-working folks in non-profits who were trying to provide a service and never knew what the budget would yield for them and their organizations. We’ve been working with the council intensely to develop a set of shared goals. And instead of going through a dance and a Kabuki theater, actually determined together some of the things that had to be in this budget.
We believe this is more fair and honest to the people of this city. You’re going to see a major investment in the continuity of the community services that the council funded. That was projected in the preliminary budget – because it was in the November plan – we’re continuing that. So, a major investment to continue the community-based services – areas like childcare and senior services that the council has funded.
We’re also trying to be honest about the real cost of some of the things that we face in this city. One topic – a sensitive topic – is the question of snow. Snow cost us – I like this snow-scape – it’s bringing me back – I’m having flashbacks. We were hit with one of the worst snow years in the history of New York City. It cost us a lot. We had to make several changes in this budget to accommodate that. And we’ve added to the 2015 budget in anticipation. Look, you never know what each year is going to bring. This last winter was extraordinary. I’m knocking on wood and saying, ‘God forbid we have another one in a row.’ But we know we have to be ready for more, so we’ve added to the ’15 budget to be more realistic about what we might face.
Coming down to the end here, and then I’m going to call up Dean Fuleihan for a few comments before we open up to questions. The capital plan – again, we’re trying to be realistic, both about how the plan conforms to our values and our priorities – I can say them clearly, our priorities in the capital plan are education, affordable housing, and infrastructure in terms of DOT, roads and bridges.
We’re also trying to be clear about how much time it takes to spend the money effectively. In previous capital plans, we’ve seen some very unrealistic projections that really made it impossible to honestly track what was going to happen – money that was booked for things that literally couldn’t happen in one year or two years or three years. You’ll see in this plan a very different look from what you saw in the November plan of the previous administration – a spreading-out of the capital expenditures in a way that we think conforms to the actual reality of getting things done on the ground.
You’ll see those priorities – education, affordable housing, and infrastructure – reflected. Total capital commitment for the four years Fiscal ’14 through Fiscal ’18 is $48.9 billion. The capital plan is $48.9 billion. And I want to emphasize – another one of my favorite charts – so everyone knows that when you engage in capital spending, which is absolutely necessary for the present and future reality of this city, the area you have to be concerned about is what it means for the debt-service coming out of your expense budget. We were adamant that this debt-service had to be kept within historic limits. I’m going to point over here on the chart, but I would say for Fiscal ’15, that number will be 13.7 percent, which again, is well within limits.
And I think I’ll just conclude before I give you a few scintillating words in Spanish that the bottom line on this plan is that we were realistic throughout. We were looking not only to what we need to do in the next year, but what we need to do in the future. We knew those capital investments mattered, but we knew we had to make them in a prudent way, in an honest way, and we’ve endeavored to do that.
El pre-supuésto de la ciudád que estámos presentándo hóy otórga más dinéro para escuélas, pára viviénda asequíble y pára ótros prográmas que mejorarán la vída de los neoyorquínos.
Estámos presentándo un pre-supuésto que es le-ál a mis valóres y a los valóres de mi administración. Es un pre-supuésto responsáble, progresísta, y honésto.
Los pre-supuéstos municipáles fí-jan prioridádes. Nuéstras prioridádes son: creár una Nueva York más asequíble, más inclusíva pára tódas las persónas, y creár empléos, sin dejár de ser fiscal-mente responsábles.
Dean Fuleihan will present his presentation entirely in Spanish, with a brief English translation at the end. I just wanted to see how agile you were, Dean.
Budget Director Dean Fuleihan: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. I think I'll save the Spanish translation for next year. I'm going to briefly go through some of the financial plan slides for you. The mayor has actually outlined the priorities of this budget, and outlined the choices and the decisions that were made, that really are reflected in the numbers. On this, you see the city funds, revenues, and expenses – city funds in this case, for the upcoming year, for 2015 – 56.1. The all funds number that the mayor talked about was the $73.9 billion for 2015. It shows that in – as the mayor pointed out – in 2014 and 2015, we are – we are in balance. And then the out-year gaps – and – so, the next one, is the city funds and expenses, changes in the financial plan since the preliminary budget. So…
Budget Director Fuleihan: Yep. I apologize.
Mayor: Project, Dean.
Budget Director Fuleihan: My apologies.
Mayor: You took the coward's way out, Dean. [Inaudible]
Budget Director Fuleihan: This wasn't part of the – of what we had gone through. So, the city fund changes for the 2014-2018 since the February plan – I'll just highlight a few. You can see the recognition in 2014 of a significant increase in revenues. As the mayor pointed out, while we were cautious in our estimates, and personal income tax revenues were higher than we expected, they were actually in all of our surrounding – in the surrounding municipalities – they had actually over-forecasted and were seeing significant financial plan problems. I'll also point out that our – while our revenue growth is moderate, it's still – our personal income tax growth is higher, actually, than the growth in personal income. So, it's thoughtful here to be cautious, and it's also consistent with where we are in the recovery. And the mayor showed that slide, that we're basically in the midpoint, and of course, this is about the next four years. It also, at the bottom, has the net cost of the labor settlement, at the – right above the bold.
The next slide – our controllable agency expenses, and non-controllable agency expenses. I'm sorry, I went too fast. Controllable agency expenses – this has been a longstanding tradition in the city to show the different categories. I'm going to slip over – skip over that, and we're obviously happy, during the question and answers, to any questions on this. The next chart, and all these are in your book, personal service, non-personal services – in 2014, the current fiscal year, and then in 2015. The following is actually just the change on those. And, then we conclude with the five-year financial plan, which does have the all-funds number, the $73.9 billion, at the bottom of that. And with that, I'm done.
Mayor: You could have done that in Spanish, it was so brief. All right. Stand with me, Dean. Okay. Reminding everyone that we will take questions on the topic of the budget. Let's go.
Question: One of the things that the City Council had asked was for more transparency in some of the units of appropriation, apparently that was not done with this particular executive budget. Was there a reason for that?
Mayor: We're still talking to the council, and Dean will jump in. We're – you know, the council has done a lot of very impressive work lately on improving their own process and suggesting some ideas to us about how we can focus better and on transparency, so we're going to work with them on that. But there's more to come on that as move toward the adopted.
Question: The council had also asked to waive the fees for universal school lunch. Is that something that is part of this?
Mayor: It's something I appreciate that they're advocating for, and we ultimately want to get to. We're not there yet for a reason. We have looked long and hard at the question of what it will do to our federal funding writ large for school food, and we are not convinced, at this point, that it won't unfortunately have the negative impact of reducing our federal funding substantially. So, we're continuing to work – Speaker Mark-Viverito has been very adamant on this point, as has the public advocate, and I appreciate their depth of feeling. We’re trying to resolve this issue. We can’t yet project if we’re going to be able to do that in the next few weeks or if it will take more time. But until we know if there may be a, you know, a net negative in that, we have to be very careful. Rich?
Question: Mr. Mayor, the council also had proposed1,000 extra or additional police officers. What’s your thinking on that, and what does this budget say about that?
Mayor: I, again, I know that’s a heartfelt request on their part, but the fact is, that thank God the NYPD is achieving what it is achieving with the resources it has now. We’re still going to be over 34,000, closer to 35,000 cops. Their efforts continue to succeed. We have obviously have beefed up the traffic enforcement piece, and we think that’s going to have a very big effect. We’re seeing that already. So we think with the resources we have, we can keep crime low and continue to do better in terms of the Vision Zero program. And as a question of priorities, we think that it’s right to stay with that amount in terms of policing and focus on some other priorities that really are hurting right now. Yes?
Question: Speaking of the council, after they emerged from your budget briefing this morning, they said that the issue of member items did not come up, and it’s still a question. They say that member items will be in their budget, that they’re not worried about it. You’ve obviously said many, many times that you want to get rid of them, especially given the arrest Ruben Wills yesterday. This—will member items be in the budget this year?
Mayor: Well look, the Council and I continue to agree to disagree. We have different perspectives on this. I do think it’s time to end member items. I think that’s the smart path going forward. But I also respect that the council has its own prerogatives and, you know, I respect them as the legislative body and we have to work in partnership. So we’ll continue to work on that issue but, you know, I think this may be just one of the areas of respectful disagreement.
Question: [inaudible] budget?
Mayor: At this moment, again, there’s a continued process going on. The council is asserting their desire to continue it as it is, and we respect that and we’ll continue to have discussion looking forward to the adopted budget.
Question: It looks – unless I’m misreading – it looks like you spent the billion out of the healthcare retiree trust fund. I don’t see that in here. Maybe it’s a question for Dean. Was that money that was replenished in February spent?
Budget Director Fuleihan: No, we did not touch the retiree health insurance trust fund. The money that you are referring to – the billion dollars – is from the stabilization fund, which has been in existence for about 25, 30 years. And it is under the joint control of both the city and the municipal labor council. And that’s one of the things they had to vote on last week.
Question: [inaudible] retiree fund is not listed here, then?
Budget Director Fuleihan: It’s not a change. We had done the –
Mayor: It’s the same as in the preliminary.
Budget Director Fuleihan: Exactly.
Mayor: It’s the same as in the preliminary. Yes.
Budget Director Fuleihan: Correct.
Mayor: And the point on the stabilization fund is that that – again, it’s been there for over a quarter century and it’s grown over time. Its original intention was to address differences in different city health insurance plans. And over time, there’s been a recognition that this money could be utilized to help us with our fiscal reality, but there wasn’t a productive relationship between labor and management in the last few years that might’ve allowed for that. This is really another good example of how creating a constructive dynamic has allowed us to get some resources into play that’s helping us with our fiscal health. And this is a really important part of this larger labor-management cooperation. [Inaudible]
Question: So, Albany obviously didn’t give you the money that you were asking for for after-school programs. So I was hoping you could just walk us through exactly how much money and how what you’re allocating now compares to what you wanted?
Mayor: It’s $145 million. It allows us to go a substantial amount of the way we wanted to go, but not all the way we wanted to go. Next year, when after-school-specific funding starts to kick in from Albany, we’ll be able to do more. But, clearly, the way that the school aid was designated, it indicated specifically that after-school was an appropriate use and so we’ve devoted that to after-school.
Question: Before the plan was 27,000 seats would cover 60,000 kids, but it looks like from here you’ve got 34,000 seats covering 100,000 kids. How is that possible?
Mayor: No, no, no. 100,000 is the grand total. There already was about 60-ish existing in terms of after-school seats for middle school kids. So it takes us up to about 100,000 total now after-school for middle school kids. And then there’s also the summer piece where we’ve doubled it with that same funding stream.
Question: Does this plan count on a third tranche of federal funding for Hurricane Sandy relief? And is there any plan to use city money if that money doesn’t come through or it’s not what you’re expecting –
Mayor: I – I will be mindful in my answers. Absolute total respect to our federal partners. The legislation, of course, was passed to address the crisis of Sandy in New York State and New Jersey. And we are hopeful that that’s what will come to pass in the third tranche. Those conversations are continuing. But no, there is not an assumption of a specific dollar figure in this plan. That’s one of the uncertainties. Michael?
Question: Mr. Mayor, the police and the fire unions and other public safety unions as you know are calling for raises that are higher than what you achieved with the teachers’ contract. Is there any wiggle-room in your budget for that? And what’s your response to folks who say no zeroes for heroes?
Mayor: I’m not a wiggle-room kind of guy. Look, that’s – there’s going to be constructive conversations with each and every union among the 151 remaining. And again, the UFT still has to go through its full ratification process. But the fact that the MLC almost unanimously agreed with the concept of these healthcare savings – and the fact that one of our very largest unions is well on its way to agreeing to this particular settlement – clearly indicates – if I’ve ever seen a pattern, this is a pattern. So there will be individual conversations with each union. There’s a number of items that are on the table – some economic, some non-economic – in each labor negotiation. But we feel very confident that this pattern will hold throughout the process.
Mayor: We don’t do lines in the sand either. The whole concept throughout – and I think you know by now, I don’t negotiate in public. The reason we were able to achieve we achieved was a respectful relationship – and I want to tip my cap to Bob Linn again, who really epitomized this – and I can’t tell you how many labor leaders have told me that, that they appreciated the respectful dynamic that Bob created the table. We did it discreetly, there was a lot of creativity in the process. We expect that to continue. So we have a pattern. I believe it’s pretty obvious. We’re going to work constructively with each union. And I’m confident we’ll get to a good place.
Question: One of the economic aspects of the teacher contract is the money for model teachers and ambassador teachers, etcetera. Is that money going to be funded based on what you say from the Absent Teacher Reserve changes? Or is that free and independent, not governed by [inaudible]?
Mayor: Let’s get Bob Linn to make a cameo here.
Commissioner Bob Linn, Office of Labor Relations: That is not funded out of savings from the ATR. It’s discretionary at the chancellor and will be based on economics within the DOE.
Question: I don’t see anything in the after-school programs about the Priority 7 vouchers. Is that part of this $145 million?
Mayor: The after-school program will, in its own way, will reach some of the same families, unquestionably. But, you know, as I’ve said, a lot of the things I want to work on over time, some we could do in this budget, some will take more time. So I remain committed to resolving some of what I think were the mistaken policies of the last few years. But that’s going to take some time to achieve in full. But in this case, some families will certainly benefit from the afterschool funding. Michael?
Question: Two quick numbers questions. On page 45, the net cost of the labor settlement from ’14 to ’18, that looks to total about the $5.5 billion that is allotted to the UFT raises. So I just wondered, do these balance sheets assume the 10 percent over seven years for all of the other unions? Or has that not yet been integrated into these numbers?
Budget Director Fuleihan: Can I do a quick tutorial?
Mayor: We would love nothing more.
Budget Director Fuleihan: You’ve got 110,000 workers represented by the UFT. There are another 40,000 workers who are similarly situated with the UFT – the 150,000 employees total who didn’t receive the two fours that the other 200,000 workers did.
Mayor: In 2008 and 2009. So I’m going to add to that tutorial – 150,000 in 2008/2009 did not get the same increases the other 200,000 city workers got. Ergo, it was only a matter of time before someday that was going to get addressed.
Budget Director Fuleihan: If you take the full 350,000 workers, and you assume a nine-year settlement for those that didn’t participate in the ‘08/’09 round, and you assume everybody – all 350,000 – get the same 10 percent over seven years going forward, the total cost of that is the $13.4 billion total, which is offset by $3.4 billion in health savings, $1 billion from the stabilization fund, $3.5 billion from the labor reserve, and that is the net of $3.5 billion – $5.5 billion, excuse me – $5.5 billion net that covers all workers for the entire pattern.
Mayor: I hasten to add, there is an additional briefing – a technical briefing – here after. So feel free to ask more, but I’m saying a lot of the detailed questions you can also treat in that technical briefing.
Question: Mr. Mayor, what made you change your mind [inaudible] more money into the budget for road resurfacing? And I’m curious as to how you pay for it? I know it’s a capital expense, but are you going to have to borrow more money to pay for it or are you –
Mayor: No, no. I really want to – I really want to set the record straight that we did not change our minds. In the preliminary, we continued the November plan of the previous administration on the capital side until we could come to a series of decisions. So certain individuals out there suggested that we had bought into the notion of less repaving. That was never true and we tried to clarify it. Unfortunately, the clarification wasn’t heard. The preliminary budget accepted the previous administration’s capital plan, put it in a holding pattern, and we said explicitly – come May, you’re going to see our capital plan start to emerge. When we looked at it, we said, clearly we needed more resources for repaving. This is the number that gets us to 1,000 lane miles being repaved in Fiscal ’15.
Question: [inaudible] pay for it? Is it just that you’re reprioritizing from the capital plan or do you need to borrow –
Budget Director Fuleihan: It’s part of the capital budget that the mayor outlined. It’s not different.
Question: In order to pay for it, what do you have to, are you –
Budget Director Fuleihan: Once again, two different – there are increases in the capital plan. That's certainly reflective of that. There's also a stretching out over the capital plan, so yes. There are increases in the capital plan, and that service was the slide the mayor showed you, where the historical average, with city revenues, is below 15 percent.
Question: -- that I don't understand. I know that you have to keep –
Budget Director Fuleihan: We are borrowing for that money, yes.
Question: Is that level below the historical 15 percent, [inaudible] number of taxes you collected increases, you could also increase the –
Mayor: The number of what increases?
Question: Because tax collections increased, you can always increase the amount of money you borrow because it's a percentage of the tax increase –
Mayor: Let me start and then –
Question: Are you increasing your borrowing, or are you just reprioritizing the capital plan, or both?
Mayor: Let me try, and Dean will jump in. The – because I think a really important thing to clarify, and I learned this along the way, many times, many ways, particularly in the council. There's a lot of confusion out in the world. All the people that we represent, we have to explain this to, between expense budget and capital budget. So obviously, expense budget based on, you know, hard revenue, with a real finite limit because of that. Capital budget, you have an option of how much to borrow, up to a realistic point, and that is – one of the obvious indicators is how much debt service you have to do. Dean said – a couple of things. One, we thought that the capital assumptions of the November plan were faulty in terms of how, when, money would spent, how it would be spent. We made a number of changes based on that. We saw some things that we knew couldn't possibly be done in the time frame indicated. We, in some cases, replaced them with other things we thought were realistic, or we changed the timelines on them, et cetera. We also determined what we thought was a fair amount of borrowing, to allow us to achieve the things we had to achieve. We were convinced that we had serious infrastructure issues that had to be addressed. We were convinced we had to do better by our school system. Obviously, had to fund the affordable housing plan. So, we figured, through that, what would be a fair amount for the capital budget overall, and that's what we locked in. But it was very important to us that the debt service not increase too much, because that does affect your expense budget.
Are we what?
Question: -- the amount of money you are borrowing?
Mayor: Absolutely. Absolutely. From where to where?
Budget Director Fuleihan: So, in city funds, it's about $3.2 billion, because there's obviously an aggressive housing plan. There are increases in education, and there are some increases in DOT. Those are the major ones.
Mayor: Over four years.
Budget Director Fuleihan: Over the four-year period.
Mayor: Right, $3.2 billion over the four years.
Question: My initial question – the decision to increase money for roads – you made that decision because…?
Mayor: Because we got a DOT commissioner who looked at the situation, looked at the preliminary – looked at the budget that was handed to us in November and assessed what we could get done, and she came to the conclusion that we needed to get to 1,000 lane miles, and this is what we would cost – what it would cost, and we thought that was a priority. Henry?
Mayor: Oh, I’m sorry, Dean wants to clarify.
Budget Director Fuleihan: So what I gave you were the capital commitment numbers, not the increase in borrowing, alright? So I will give you the actual debt – that was the commitment in the capital plan over the four years, the cumulative number on the capital plan for city funding. What I’ll give you after this is the exact increase in debt service, what we were modeling—
Reporter: [Inaudible] capital spending [inaudible] –
Budget Director Dean Fuleihan: It’s the increase in the capital commitments, and the capital commitments are funded through our debt service.
Mayor: Okay, let’s—and we can do more in the technical briefing. More – let’s keep going guys. Henry, did you have something?
Question: I do. The years through 2020 in which you are paying the back pay, how much is that going to cost?
Mayor: So that’s Fiscal ’19 – help me out – Fiscal ’20, and Fiscal ’21. And I’m going to start before –
Reporter: [Inaudible] those are calendar years?
Mayor: No, fiscals. Fiscal. Work with me. Work with me. The labor settlement goes through Fiscal ’18. I’m looking at my panel of judges. The restructured payments take you to Fiscal ’19, Fiscal ’20, Fiscal ’21. Key point, the healthcare savings initiated through this agreement, ratified almost unanimously by the MLC, are going to continue to be a part of the life of this city and the city government going forward, so yes there’s some payments we have to do to finish the old business. And this I really want to emphasize. Again, we were left with an unprecedented dynamic, and with 150,000 workers who didn’t get treated like the other 200,000. That was going to have to be resolved someday. It should have been resolved in the past administration. It really should have, by any normal measure. We’re resolving it now. The good news is there’s also a pattern now being set, a reality being set of healthcare savings that we think will not only live, but will grows deeper over time.
Budget Director Fuleihan: It’s going to cost $4.3 of $5 billion, is that total for the lump-sums. There will be an additional $1.9 billion of healthcare savings, so that leaves about $2.4 billion of costs. Let me explain. The 200,000 workers who received the increases before are not part of this. The lump-sum restructuring payments are only for the 150,000 who didn’t receive the same increases that the 200,000 already have been enjoying since 2008 and 2009. Those payments of that restructured lump-sums, they will be made in five pieces – One in ’15, one in ’17, and then the three payments that we talked about before, which add up to, for all 150,000 workers, the $4.3-5 billion with the continued healthcare savings. They end at that point. So this is not a situation of increases that go on forever or increase in time. They are gone after Fiscal ’21.
Mayor: And one more rejoinder on that. The whole goal here was to create normalcy, and lasting normalcy. It's really important for my eventual successor to receive a situation where labor contracts are up to date, where they're not dealing with past burdens, and we can move forward in a fiscally stable environment. So, as challenging as this was, due to Bob's efforts, and a lot of cooperation with our partners in municipal labor – this clears the decks once and for all. And we now are in a position to have consistent labor contracts from this point on. Kate?
Question: Can you tell us precisely what amount of health care savings you accounted for and factored in for each of the four years [Inaudible] financial plan? And at what point would you decide that it's, that they're not being realized? How soon would you make that call?
Mayor: Ok, we, let's be – I'm going to start. These savings will happen, period. They are guaranteed. What's clear is, there is a menu of ways to get there, but there is an arbitrator process that guarantees the outcome.
Question: -- what point would that kick in?
Commissioner Linn: So we have obligations, agreements, to reach $400 million dollars of savings in Fiscal '15, $700 million in Fiscal '16, a billion in '17, and $1.3 billion in '18, and those are recurring savings, so it's not just for that year. Those $1.3 billion recurs and increases in the future based on healthcare cost increases. We will, each year, analyze whether or not we've received the targeted amount that we've agreed to. And if not, we will immediately – we have the right to go to the arbitrator for interim relief. So that each year we will monitor it, and we will measure it, and if we don't make those savings, we will get additional relief.
Mayor: Last call. Last call. Rich?
Question: Mr. Mayor, did you ever expect to have to deal with all of these numbers, and do you consider yourself a numbers guy, or were you – did you try to stay away from accounting and things like that?
Mayor: I emphatically tried to stay away from accounting. I think I am traditional in this sense. I didn't seek to learn about this field in my spare time. But I put it through the prism, and I don't want to sound hackneyed, but I think it's true, I put it through the prism of, you know, someone sitting around a kitchen table balancing their household budget. And I've got to tell you, it becomes real clear real quick, when you look at the reality of this city, how careful you have to be. This is a cautious document on purpose. We see what happened in recent years, we see some of the threats, and we know we have to be in a careful stance to protect against future disruptions, so we can keep moving the pieces we have to move. I also – I haven't always articulated it so perfectly in the past, but again, I am a traditionalist in the sense of, I dislike things like a labor contract hanging out there, creating uncertainty. It just – that always rubbed me the wrong way. And I said to my colleagues, you know, let's do everything we know how to do to get this done as quickly as possible. They surpassed my every expectation in the speed with which they achieved it. But I think you have to have certainty. The lack of certainty really bothered me. And the one thing that I'm really, deeply appreciative about, about the way we've gotten to this point is – this is something that now, you know, we can bank on for the remainder of our time in office in this term, and we hope that, you know, in the future, whoever is in office can bank on it as well. And it gives us a really strong foundation for the future of this city. Thanks everyone.