Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Announces Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Agreement with Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Council Members

June 8, 2016

Mayor Bill de Blasio: How early is it? How early is it? We are going to address that topic in just a moment, Speaker.

It is such an honor to be here with Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and members of the City Council. And I want to start by thanking all of them. This partnership has grown over two-and-a-half years. It started strong, and it has gotten stronger. The collegiality, the respect, the communication have deepened. And that is part of why we have such an early agreement this year. We all see things in many of the same ways. We work through issues very productively. And we recognize that the people of this city want to see us find a way forward and address the realities of our neighborhoods. And so this budget is a real achievement in terms of the things it will do for the people of New York City; but also because it represents government that is cooperative, and productive, and respectful.

The dollar figure of this budget – $82.1 billion. This budget will be obviously finalized at adoption. The Speaker will speak to that timeline. But the final number will be $82.1 billion. And this budget clearly continues the work we’ve all done together over two-and-a-half years of lifting up New Yorkers and addressing the issues of inequality head on. There’s a lot in here that will help us continue those crucial efforts. Now the work that’s been done by the Council members, their staffs, the Council Finance staff, OMB – tremendous amount of work went into this, including a constant effort to find savings and offsets. And that is evident in the final product as well. That is constant work. There’s been a real imperative of fiscal responsibility on both sides of this hall. And that will be reflected in the final product.

Let me just give you a couple of key points before I represent – excuse me, before I introduce the Speaker and the Finance Chair. And I want to thank at the outset, everyone on the staff of the Mayor’s Office, and particularly our friends at OMB who work so hard. But I want to give a special thank you to someone who really led our process with tremendous capacity as he always does – our Budget Director Dean Fuleihan – thank you.

[Applause]

Dean Fuleihan – you are the most progressive and best dressed Budget Director in America. Okay? You have both those titles.

We – the Council, the Mayor’s Office – we believe in budgets that are responsible, that are honest, and that are progressive. And we believe this budget meets those criteria. And to the point we talked about at the outset – how early is it? This is the earliest handshake since 2001 – June of 2001.

[Applause]

June of 2001 – to give you perspective – Rudy Giuliani was mayor still at that point. That’s how far back you have to go to see something done this early and efficiently. So kudos to all the members of the Council for the hard work you did to help us achieve that.

Now, sound fiscal management – as I said, this is one of the key points of this budget. We’re adding to our Citywide Savings Program, which already saves $2.3 billion across Fiscal ‘16 and ‘17. It was already – at the time of the Executive Budget – at $2.3 billion – it was already the largest savings program in the last five years in this city. With the partnership of the Council, we are adding another approximately $440 million in savings over the next two years. And, we are deepening our reserves. And I want to give real credit to the City Council on this point. The Speaker will go into greater detail. But the Council members believed it was a priority to add to our reserves. And I want to thank them for that focus on our future – on protecting the work we do for our constituents. And so, at the request of the Council, we are announcing that we’re adding $250 million more – a quarter-billion more to the Retiree Health Benefit Trust Fund for Fiscal ‘17.

[Applause]

So a quarter-billion more on top of the quarter-billion we added in at the time of the Executive – this brings the Retiree Health Benefit Trust Fund to the largest amount ever – $3.9 billion – the largest in the city’s history. It comes on top of the reserves that we included in the Executive Budget – $1 billion for the general reserve and $500 million for the Capital Stabilization Reserve.

Now, I’m just going to say a couple of quick things before I turn to the Speaker and the Finance Chair.

We – I want to highlight three particular things that are notable in this budget, and we’re proud of. I’ve said from the beginning of this administration – this administration values our cultural institutions, and I want to say this very carefully, large and small, those based in the great borough of Manhattan and those based in four other great boroughs, those that represent the historic majority culture, and those that represent all the other great cultures of our city. That we wanted to see our cultural institutions flourish but in a way that was inclusive.

I have to thank our cultural institutions because they have taken on that challenge, that commitment deeply. It started with IDNYC, and our cultural institutions took that and ran with it to the tune, now of over 800,000 New Yorkers who have IDNYC and thousands and thousands of new members of cultural organizations who will be long term members.

But I have to tell you, we believed that if we could see that increased commitment towards inclusion, it was time to invest. So, you will see important new investments in cultural institutions in this budget.

[Applause]

And they cleverly gave me examples like the Bronx Museum of the Arts or the Brooklyn Botanic Garden or the Staten Island Zoo – to emphasize that this is a five-borough inclusive – well, you know, they didn’t give me all the examples.

[Applause]

Unknown: Queens Museum.

Mayor: Queens Museum, sure.

[Laughter]

And it’s the kind of investments that will help these institutions do their work but also expand and do what they’ve been doing a great job at which is bringing in our young people and, particularly, our public school students in.

We are very excited about what that will mean for the cultural institutions.

Now, speaking about our young people though – I want to be very, very clear – the City Council really early on in this budget process, I want to give everyone a great compliment for clarity of communication. I was receiving your message. From the very beginning of this process it was clear the City Council believed in deepening our commitment to summer youth employment. And this was –

[Applause]

So, we’re making a series of major changes that really will speak to a whole new approach, and a bigger and better approach for the future. I will let the Speaker go into the details. But this has been – I want to give the Council credit – they put this down as their – in many ways – their number one concern, and it will be fully reflected in this budget.

And then third – the Council was very focused on one of the most important parts of keeping this city safe, which is helping our district attorneys. We, obviously, share that commitment, the question was how to construct it and how far to go. And again, we’ve heard that this was a central priority for the Council, and we made some major new investments as a result.

This is particularly true because our district attorneys to their great credit want to focus more deeply on some areas that didn’t get enough attention in the past like domestic violence, obviously, like the opioid crisis, which we all are going to have to put more attention and more resources into. So, the decisions you’ll see here reflect a lot of the priorities the Council put forward and advocated for strenuously.

A lot good give-and-take. Give-and-take is a wonderful thing in a democratic process when it leads to a productive result, and that’s what’s happened here.

Before turning it over to my colleagues, just a few words in Español – got my coaches here with me.

[Mayor speaks in Spanish]

And now, giving great credit to her leadership and her persistence and her great negotiating skills – I will say to Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is when she believes in something, you’re going to hear about it. And she kept coming back to the well and pushing us. And we got to a great place together. So, I welcome Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

[Applause]

[…]

Mayor: Here we go. Yes?

Question: [Inaudible] $440 million in savings – and you said that was spread out over two years – can you give us some examples of what are these savings?

Mayor: Mr. Fuleihan, join us. Like, come here, come here, first. He still hasn’t learned how to do this right. There we go.

[Laughter]

Director Dean Fuleihan, Office of Management and Budget: $140 million of that is debt service savings, which are both in interest assumptions and re-financings. So it’s $140 million over the two years and then $45 million to $50 million throughout – annually throughout the plan. The others are – we’ve been working with the Council and the agencies to do re-estimates, to actually figure out – just as our revenues are cautious, our expense estimates are cautious – and we did re-estimates and we were able to get the $440 million. And then there’s some additional funds that actually offset all of the expense items that are in this adoptive budget – same way we did at the Executive Budget.

Question: So just to reiterate – the savings is no staff reductions, no layoffs, nothing like that?

Director Fuleihan: No, there are no layoffs. And there are not staff reductions. There are re-estimates on hiring practices. There are re-estimates about the spending. And it’s a more accurate reflection of how we’re moving forward.

Mayor: It’s efficiencies.

Question: Mr. Mayor, how did the Council convince you of the need of additional funds for summer jobs [inaudible]?

Mayor: No, they’re not. And I was just having this conversation with a gentleman who is quite passionate on this issue.

Unknown: Who?

Mayor: I want to give Jumaane Williams – the new-look Jumaane Williams. I miss the hip, happening Jumaane Williams – this member of the establishment guy over here, I don’t know about.

Councilmember Jumaane Williams: We’ll see. We’ll see.

Mayor: But I value, unquestionably value summer youth employment. For a long time, I’ve had a lot of questions about whether it’s structured the right way, we’re reaching the kids we want to reach, etcetera. It was not one of our priorities. It just wasn’t. It’s a good thing. There are many good things. It wasn’t one of our strategic priorities. And we certainly did not go into this process with the assumption that we would increase it and certainly not with the assumption we would baseline it. This is why – actually looking at the give-and-take here is important. We started out not assuming it. The Speaker and the Council pushed very hard for us to think differently. We did not start the discussion with the additional reserves, for example, either. They pushed us very hard to think differently. And that’s what the give-and-take is here for.

Question: How much of those funds base-lined [inaudible]?

Mayor: So it’s enough for 60,000 kids, which will be the highest number we’ve ever reached.

Unknown: [inaudible]

Mayor: $38? $38.5 million. And we’re going – just one other thing I’d like to note. The commission – the task force we’re going to do together – I’m very excited about. Because I think it’s going to allow us to make much deeper strategic sense of this in the future. When we can make sure that these jobs are reaching the kids who need them most – every kid benefits, and I obviously want to see kids in every neighborhood benefit. But I have to first make sure – from my point of view – and this will be a collegial effort – that we’re reaching the kids for whom a summer job would have the biggest impact on helping them forward. When we figure that out, and how to do it most effectively, and how to recruit most effectively – that number could easily grow. I think there’s a very good chance we’ll see consistent growth in that number over the coming years, and we’re ready to work with the Council and through that task force to determine what the right number is. I think we’ll have better rules, a better approach, more data – and then that program can grow. But I absolutely can tell you with assurance – it was not our intention to baseline it for this year at its all-time highest level – that was a result of the Council putting that demand on the table.

Please, please.

Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito: Just quickly – because I think the task force is really important – the joint task force that’s going to result out of this. So many of us have had experience SYP over the years. This has been a program that’s been in decades in the City of New York. And we haven’t really seen an extensive evaluation done on how do we bring that program into the 21st Century. So this is a tight timeframe that we’re looking to do – which is basically within the next six months. We’re hoping that we’re going to have some recommendations that this task force will have produced – and that we can take that into account as we start developing the next Preliminary Budget, and the next Executive Budget – so the Fiscal Year ‘18. So this is really something that we’re committed to, and I’m glad that we’re partnering with the Admin to make sure that happens.

Mayor: Yes?

Question: Thanks, Mr. Mayor. I haven’t had a chance, obviously, to look at the – to really read the numbers here. But in your proposed budget, there was about $150 million new spending. So I’m not sure that’s the same ballpark at this point, but how much of this spending is recurring? And given that the City has increased its payroll expenses in recent years, for example – is the City adding enough to the reserves to keep up with that?

Mayor: Yes. The decisions we made in the Preliminary and the Executive Budget were about investing in the needs of the people of this city. I will – I want to affirm because I think this an area where there’s always been a little bit of misunderstanding. The number reflects federal money that comes to us for Sandy, which is a big number – that shows up in this budget. It showed up in the last budget. In the next few years, that will stop happening. At some point, you’re going to see a major piece of funding fall away because the money will have been exhausted, and that will change our budget in that manner. But the investments we’ve made are about addressing, first of all, some crying needs. We had to do a lot more in terms of the Department of Corrections and Rikers Island. We had to do a lot more to address homelessness. There were some areas that no one wished we had to put more investment into, but it was necessary. And then some new initiatives that we think are crucial to the future of the City – for example, some of the investments related to our Equity and Excellence Plan for schools. So it’s a mix of different investments, but we believe they are necessary, we believe they are smart. At the same time, there’s been a consistent pattern now over three years of adding to reserves. Every opportunity we had, we’ve added to reserves. It’s been three years running. And I don’t know if there was a point – I certainly can’t remember a time – where three years in a row, there was additions to reserves by the City. This is a very, very healthy reserve number right now. I think we’re in good shape to withstand challenges.

One other point – everyone’s seen recent economic news – that last set of numbers around employment were troubling nationwide. We never know – the economy doesn’t send you a memo when it’s about to turn. This is a smart level of reserve to protect us in the event of a downturn.

Question: Sorry, the first part of the question was just – how much of the new City spending is recurrent?

Mayor: I don’t know of anything that’s not recurrent here.

Director Fuleihan: [Inaudible]

Mayor: Yes, we better sit down. I think most of it is obviously recurring.

Yes?

Question: The City Council is putting up $4.5 for RUMC – you’ve said before that the City doesn’t fund private hospitals.

Mayor: Yes.

Question: So I just want to confirm that you are not putting any of the City funding towards that – is it just the Council that [inaudible]?

Mayor: Correct. The City Council has the ability – and has for years and years – funded individual voluntary hospitals. That’s their right. And I think this is a great investment. But the City, in terms of the executive branch – we have a very clear and consistent rule – we do not fund the voluntary hospitals in terms of traditional needs. Obviously we had an exceptional situation related to Sandy, for example. But that was different. We will continue – as you’ve heard me say – we are investing more in Staten Island, in terms of HHC money for the Vanderbilt Clinic. We’ll keep doing investments through HHC. But in terms of something to a voluntary hospital, that would only happen through the Council.

Yes?

Question: What are the top three differences between the Executive Budget and what’s here, in terms of dollars?

Mayor: Dean can give you specific breakouts. But obviously, the decisions around summer youth would be one. Dean, you can help me. Obviously, the reserves would be another. And in terms of top three dollar figures. It’s a good quiz question. Reserves is the number one by far. Libraries and SYP – that’s right.

Question: One more thing – if I could just ask one more thing.

Speaker Mark-Viverito: Pretty much everything that we just announced is in addition to – I mean is beyond what was in the Executive Budget. So, everything that we’re laying out here – that’s how we arrived at the agreement.

Mayor: But the biggest pieces would be the reserves, summer youth, and libraries.

Question: What’s the [inaudible] City spending?

Mayor: Well we’re at $82.1, so we’re actually coming in a little bit lower than where we were in the Exec because of the savings that have been achieved.

Question: So Mr. Mayor, if I could follow up on that – you’re a little lower – with why is it lower? And you had mentioned about possibly asking some of the agencies to find savings?

Mayor: Yes.

Question: Were you able to do that? And if so, what are they? And the Council –

Mayor: Can I do the first two – and then we’ll come to you. It is lower because we found more savings. So again, I want to try to interpret for people who are not in the middle of this process – it’s a very interesting process, and it’s a very intense, and a process that plays out over weeks and weeks and weeks. There’s a constant search for savings – like all the time. OMB is doing that. Council Finance doing that. Everyone’s looking for savings. The savings can take many forms, including efficiencies that we find or as Dean said – money that we don’t think is going to be spent on a timely basis being pulled back. So that goes on all the time. In this case, those savings were greater than any new spending that was agreed to. That’s going to be ongoing. In terms of the commitment we made to keep getting agencies saving – some of it’s going to be seen here and Dean will go over that with you guys when he does a more technical briefing. But that process, as we said, will continue towards the mod – in the modification in the fall, where we’re asking very bluntly agencies to go farther. Some have done a pretty good job already. Others need to do more. That’s an ongoing process going into the fall.

Go ahead, from there.

Question: [Inaudible] if the Council had to find any of your own [inaudible] some of the way you fund initiatives, and how you allot your – you allocate your funding –

Speaker Mark-Viverito: As part of the negotiations, you know, we also present some alternatives cuts or savings. And that conversation is ongoing. So, we’re continuing to engage in those conversations but that’s part of a negotiation where we sit with OMB and we present what thoughts we have about that, and they analyze it, and then we can figure out if we can come to some sort of an agreement. So, we do our own level of analysis too, and present a whole set of alternative cuts as well.

Question: [Inaudible] are you looking to consolidate some of your initiatives to find some savings by putting some of them together?

Councilmember Julissa Ferreras-Copeland: So, we’re still going through – obviously this is kind of the skeleton and our highlights in this process. We are still continuing to meet with delegations and [inaudible], so this – we still haven’t adopted this budget. So, by adoption we will be able to present a more thoughtful assessment of that.

Question: Speaker, when the Mayor presented his Executive Budget, you said – you criticized the plan for closing the operating gap with Health + Hospitals, saying they’ve relied too much on state and federal funds, that [inaudible] any change in this hand-shake budget?

Speaker Mark-Viverito: That definitely is ongoing conversations. The H+H plan – Health + Hospitals plan is something that we’re going to do oversight, and we’re going to – we’ve already had some initial conversations. And there’s a lot of work to be done in that area. So, some of those concerns are still ones that we are engaging in [inaudible] conversations.

Question: Question for the Mayor. What degree would you say that the earliness of the handshake and it’s daylight occurrences [inaudible] because you have a flight this evening?

[Laughter]

Mayor: First, to the first point. On – no this is a more important point if I may be so bold.

On H+H we have made some real, I think, meaningful progress in terms of the communications that we’ve had with our labor partners which have proceeded since the announcement of the plan at the time of the Executive Budget. We have had very productive conversations in Washington, both in the executive branch and the Congress – notably with Senator Schumer who has shown a great deal of interest in helping us resolve some of the outstanding federal issues. There’ve been great conversations in Albany.

So, the effort to take the plan that was laid out and make it work has continued to move forward. But this is something we consult with the Council on regularly, and it’s something that has to be continually worked through because everyone knows that the challenge at H+H is very, very big.

One the second point – the goal was really simple – get to the handshake at the first available moment. And I’m thrilled this process is the earliest in 15 years. People worked hard on it. The Speaker and I have been talking every day and meeting many times a day over the last few days – and it was ready to go so, it was a good time for a handshake.

Question: Mayor, you had made an offer to the City Board of Elections – $20 million with some strings attached.

Mayor: Yes.

Question: It’s not something that’s highlighted here.

Mayor: Nope.

Question: If you could talk a little bit about what happened in those conversations –

Mayor: Yes.

Question: And given the fact that there’s an election in about three weeks –

Mayor: Yes.

Question: What assurances do you give New Yorkers that it will go better this time?

Mayor: That’s a very good question. The operating money is there, I can assure New Yorkers of that, that the Board of Elections has the resources it needs to run an election effectively. But I cannot guarantee New Yorkers that they’re going to have the experience that they deserve to have, and that is why we offered $20 million but only if a series of reforms would be undertaken.

To date, the Board of Elections has not agreed to that. Now, that discussion is not over, to be fair. I am not thrilled that it hasn’t been agreed to because I think if people come in a generous spirit and say, ‘Here’s $20 million to modernize and upgrade but it’s going to take some real guarantees and reforms.’ I would have thought that answer would have been a very fast yes. So, I’d like to see more from the Board of Elections.

But we have removed that item from the budget since there was not an acceptance of our terms on time. We can restart that conversation at any time. There’s always a way to put together additional resources if they’re willing to engage our requirements. But I think New Yorkers should be pressing all of their leaders, including in Albany because as you know a lot of the most important decisions about the Board of Elections occur in Albany. We need fundamental change, and one of the things we most need from Albany is legislation that will empower the executive director and the professional staff of the Board of Elections, rather than what is a traditional political structure.

Question: Slight tangential follow-up – [inaudible] told anymore about how or why the voters who were purged, were purged since they –

Mayor: How and why, what?

Question: [Inaudible] purged.

Mayor: No. We’re continuing, and we want a full accounting – and I don’t, to the best of my knowledge, I’m turning to Dean – I don’t think we have it yet. But I do think that the fact – and I appreciate all the reporting that you and your station have done on this – the fact that it happened to begin with points out a fundamental reality. A managerial dynamic that is not modern, not up-to-date, not professional enough, and must be updated, or we’ll just keep having this problem. So, to your original point – I wish I could say to New Yorkers, it’s going to change and change now. I wish I had full and total control of the Board of Elections – I’d take that tomorrow, and we could turn the place around. But until either that is done or the action I’m talking about in Albany is done or the Board agrees voluntarily to make reforms, I think there’s going to still be a less than ideal experience, unfortunately.

Yes.

Question: Mr. Mayor, you mentioned that Council’s priorities that were adopted in this budget. Since the Executive Budget has your office highlighted any unique – was there anything that –

Mayor: There are some smaller items, and Dean’s going to go over things in detail, but I think it’s fair to say the vast majority of the additions came from Council concerns.

Question: Mayor, so, in some of the Council hearings there’s been a bit of back-and-forth about the use of PEGs versus the use of requests for savings or, you know, efficiencies. Obviously there are new savings in this budget. So, can you explain just a little bit about, I guess, whether there is a –

Mayor: Sure.

Question: If not, why?

Mayor: Enthusiastically, Jillian.

Question: [Inaudible] what the people want.

Mayor: This is what the people – people grab me by lapels all the time on the street and say, “What about the PEGs?”

[Laughter]

You’ve all had this experience right? Happens all the time – all the time.

Most people are like what the hell is a PEG. There is a traditional notion – very quick – a traditional notion of like an across the board, everyone cut one percent everyone cut three percent. We reject that. We said that from the beginning. We think that’s bad budgeting, bad policymaking. What we believe in is – when we need savings, we go case-by-case, agency-by-agency, program-by-program.

As Dean has pointed out very eloquently, over time, some of the best savings are achieved by things like recognizing money that’s not going to be spent, bring it back, and saying to people we’re not playing around. If you’re not spending that money effectively, we’re taking it back or finding ways to [inaudible] service to find savings, or other efficiencies. We’re doing an ongoing effort to figure if there’s initiatives, programs we don’t think are effective. And those could be pulled back that’s going to be agency-by-agency.

But the biggest piece of the equation is the healthcare savings which started in the labor deals in 2014 but that’s, you know – the PEG question gets asked a lot. The real action here is – for years this city didn’t make progress on healthcare costs. It just kept ballooning. This is the first time we’ve changed that trajectory. And we believe it can change a lot more. So, if you’re talking about real money, the big money is in deepening healthcare savings. But we’re going to constantly look for ways to also reduce agency expenses. And the Council’s been very aggressive on this point with us, and sometimes they find an opportunity, sometimes we do.

And then the last point of the equation is – when you take resources that you have and you put in them in reserve, that’s like the mirror image. It’s great to find cuts but it’s also crucial to put savings in that lock box that will protect it. And that’s where, again, the Council deserves a lot of credit for pushing for even more.

Yes. Okay, wait. Someone who hasn’t had a chance, first. Hold on. You haven’t had a chance.

Question: [Inaudible] I think the last Preliminary Budget you had [inaudible]

Mayor: Well, we did it at the Executive, we announced the [inaudible] proposal.

[Inaudible] very detailed.

Okay, over here, and then we’ll see if I can make it a few more. Let me get everyone who hasn’t had a chance.

Question: Thank you. Mr. Mayor, this is the second or third year in a row that you’ve contrasted your process to the budget dance in previous administrations.

Mayor: Right.

Question: In what way is that still a relevant or significant distinction when your administration goes through a set, of what some people would say are – it’s kind of a charade of push-back, and offers and counteroffers. What’s really the difference?

Mayor: Well, look, I think this historic difference – and I think the Speaker said it best with the firehouses. I mean, it was a part of our lives when I was in the Council that, “Oh, the firehouses are going to be closed,” – and by the way, the first time it actually happened, which is another interesting part of the equation. So, you thought it was a charade a lot of the time but you couldn’t be 100 percent sure – tons of time and energy were put into it, and it was done on purpose to draw time and energy towards a falsehood.

And the same – more than one year, we had vast teacher layoffs put on the table. You’d like to think, “Ah, that’s just a faint,” but you’re never sure. Here, we’ve been much clearer, I think, and consistent – all of us about saying, “Here’s the things we agree on, here’s some things we don’t yet agree on.” Like I said, we were not – we did not propose additional reserve money, and it wasn’t where we were going to go until it became a Council priority. We were not going to baseline libraries or SYP. That was not the plan, and that was part of a give-and-take. So, I think it is very different.

Yes.

Question: Mr. Mayor, the Comptroller says he recommends a 12 to 18 percent budget push-in. And I think it was said that is at about ten-and-a-half. Do you have concerns – I mean 12, he’s giving as the minimum of what –

Mayor: We have always had a respectful difference both on how we’re counting reserves and what we think is necessary. This is an unprecedented level of reserves. It’s as simple as that. It’s the highest number we’ve ever had. It’s the highest in the Health Benefit Fund. We think it’s a very strong number, and I thank the Council for adding to it.

Question: [Inaudible]

Mayor: Again, I respect what – I mean – by the way. If there’s some you’d want to be – if there’s someone you’d want to be talking about reserves a lot, it would be a comptroller. But we think this is a very strong number, and a very strong percentage, and we certainly think it compares very favorably to the past.

Yes.

Question: A lot of the new funding that you’ve added to fight the drug epidemic that’s been for enforcement like today with the DA’s office or naloxone for example. But very little has been put towards actual prevention, and the Special Narcotics Prosecutors said a couple weeks ago that without more prevention funding it’s basically like shoveling sand. Drug addicts will go to parties with naloxone so that they won’t OD.

Mayor: Well, I have a lot respect for the Special Prosecutor. I would look at it differently though. This is the beginning of what’s going to be a sustained response on this issue. We are all, I think, public policy people all over this country are trying to come to grips with the totality of this crisis. The thing we have to do immediately is address the most serious elements of the crisis. That’s why the work being done by the DA’s and the police to disrupt the flow of illegal drugs and the dealers to make sure that where we can protect people with naloxone, we are there.

The work we’re doing to – and I think the improvement of the prosecutions is going to have a big role in it, and I thank the Council for that focus. The work we’re doing to also make more treatment available which is a different question in prevention, but it is a crucial part of the equation to increase the amount of treatment slots available. We are investing, as you know on Staten Island, in the early education programs in the fifth grade. But I think we’ve got a right-now crisis that deserves a lot of investment right now. We have to figure out what that prevention looks like because I don’t want to say, “Easier said than done,” as a [inaudible]. I’m saying it’s a very challenging area of public policy to figure out what prevention will work on this kind of scale and be effective.

We’re going to keep looking at with the DA’s, with the experts – Dr. Bassett and Dr. Palacio are very focused on this issue. But the several rounds of initiatives we’ve announced months ago on Staten Island, what announced in the Executive Budget, what we’re announcing here with the Council, show that this is a ramp up – not just for Staten Island, but for the Bronx and for a lot of parts of the city. This is the beginning of what I can tell you right now will be a bigger investment over time.

Unknown: One more and we’re out.

Question: Very simple, the beach and pool extension passed –

[Applause]

Mayor: What’s that?

Question: What beaches –

Speaker Mark-Viverito: We don’t have – we would have to get that to you.

[Inaudible]

Mayor: Thank you [inaudible]. That’s what I thought but I like having an expert. All beaches, all pools – one week past Labor Day.

Question: All of them?

Mayor: All of them. All of them.

[Applause]

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