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Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Releases Executive Budget for Fiscal Year 2018

April 26, 2017

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Well, good afternoon, everyone. We are here today to present the fiscal 2018 executive budget. Key points in this budget makes targeted new investments and strategic investments in the future of this city. We deepened previous investments that are making an impact positively on lives of all New Yorkers, and we continue the practice of sustaining historically high reserves to protect against future uncertainty.

And look, this budget continues the work we started four years ago, recognizing that for so many people in the city, it is still a great challenge to make ends meet. And for so many people who work so hard and try and do everything the right way, life in the city is very, very challenging. We're trying in every way we can to relieve those burdens, make it easier on our people to live a good life in the city.

We understand what recent years have done to people economically. And the numbers are very sobering. Between 2000, 2014, for example, real average rent in New York City increased by almost 20 percent, while median income – real median income in those years actually fell six percent.

We're still recovering from that reality. Still too many people in the city, even if they're working hard, who don't have the kind of wages and benefits that they need, and we all know about the cost of housing – the highest it's ever been.

This budget continues our effort to address those realities head-on. Now, the things we want to focus on. Not only making sure people can somehow scrape the money to live on, but that New Yorkers can live a decent life and enjoy all that this great city has to offer, and ensuring the city is not only stronger in the future, but fairer in the future as well.

That is the fundamental goal of this budget proposal. We're proud of the progress we have made over the last three-plus years – 2000 more officers on patrol in the NYPD, a key example something we did through this budget process, working with our colleagues in the City Council that has had every desired impact that it was projected to have.

Because we have 2000 more officers on patrol, we've been able to drive down crime consistently. We've been able to set up the strongest anti-terror capacity of any city not the country. We've been able to implement a neighborhood policing vision that is bringing more dialogue and unity of partnership between police and community.

Those things are happening before our very eyes, because we made a strategic investment. And we saw it particularly in the first quarter this year – the safest three months ever in the history of New York City. We know that affordability is the number one issue on the minds of New Yorkers and thanks to the excellent efforts of our team, over 62,000 affordable apartments have been financed or created or preserved to date – on track for our goal of 200,000 affordable apartments to serve half-a-million New Yorkers. That investment is working. It is ahead of schedule in fact, and on budget.

We know that the future of the city literally will be decided by our public schools, both in terms of how our children grow and develop, what they will contribute, how businesses will make decisions about their future New York. It all runs through our school system and we know the Equity and Excellence for All vision is working.

We know we have succeeded with pre-K, 70,000 almost children in pre-K and the success that initiative has had. We know that new initiatives like AP for All in our high schools are already working and will have a profound impact on college readiness going forward.

These are the things we had to invest in and that we will continue to invest in.

And underneath all of those priorities is the understanding that this is also what makes not only for a healthy city, a more unified city, a fairer city, but also a city that's economically strong in the future.

Everything I just indicated affects our economic climate and our business climate. We know that these policies are one of the contributing factors, but an important one in the extraordinary success over the last three years in job creation – over 342,000 new jobs created in the last three years. And we know that that has led to a record low unemployment level.

Those are things that prove investments are worth it and necessary to build a future. When we budget, we're not just budgeting for this year or next year. We're budgeting with an eye on where the city will be in the next ten or twelve years. We know these investments are working and they have to be sustained.

So we have to keep figuring out what is right. The particular focus on giving greater opportunity to every child, on addressing the affordable housing crisis, particularly for seniors, one of our biggest growing demographics in the city, continuing to not only be the safest big city in the country, but get safer still. And doing a host of things to improve the quality of life in the city is the greatest in the world, but is also more crowded than ever and has real quality of life concerns in every neighborhood.

So I'm going to give you an overview of the budgets to talk about how we are addressing those immediate needs and what it means for our future and I'll go over some of the key investments we're making.

I want to say at the outset thank you, first of all to our Budget Director, Dean Fuleihan and his whole team at OMB that’ve worked to put together what I think is a fine document. I want to thank our Deputy Mayors Tony Shorris, Alicia Glen, Herminia Palacio, and Richard Buery for their tremendous contributions to this budget effort and all they do. Our Director for Intergovernmental Affairs, Emma Wolfe, and her team; my Senior Advisor Andrea Hagelgans and her team; and Dom Williams, a special thanks – Chief of Staff to Deputy Mayor Shorris for his good efforts on this budget.

And we've already, of course, engaged in a close partnership with the City Council throughout the process so far. I’ve met with Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito this morning and with members of the City Council late morning. Thanks to the Speaker and to Finance Chair Julissa Ferreras-Copeland for continued partnership throughout this effort.

Top line numbers, the Fiscal 2018 Executive Budget will be $84.86 billion.

The Executive Ten-Year Capital plan will be $95.85 billion.

And I'll say at the outset, you're going to hear about choices that were made, priorities that were set. We know that we cannot invest in everything, but we have to invest where our dollars will go the farthest, where we can have the biggest impact for the money that we spend.

Now, I want to talk to you for a moment to set the stage here about the economic situation, and if you're talking about the economy as a whole, there certainly is a fair amount of good news and we're in some ways a better place today than some of the other times that we've had an opportunity to share our budget proposal in the past.

Jobs in the city, as I said, have grown as a historic pace. More new jobs created in New York City in the last three years than there are people in the city of St. Louis, Missouri.  So just to give you a little vivid example of how intense the job growth has been.

But now, a fact that people don't know as much is where our unemployment rate is. This four percent unemployment – this is the lowest unemployment rate in New York City in the last 40 years. This measure of unemployment has existed for 40 years.

This is literally the lowest unemployment rate since this effort to measure unemployment began four decades ago. Also, we're very proud to say unemployment is literally half of what it was at the time I took office, so we were right around eight percent when I came into office. We're at four percent now. That's a huge step forward for this city, and we want to maintain that great low unemployment.

We also are beating the national unemployment rate, which for years and years in the city would have been an impossibility, but we're doing that now.

The unemployment picture and the growth in jobs are something to be very proud of and it says a lot about New York City that our economic growth has now reached this historic level. Most jobs we've ever had, lowest unemployment we've had in 40 years.

A simple measure we should be proud of. The most jobs we’ve ever had and the lowest unemployment in 40 years.

So important to recognize this against the backdrop of what is being talked about around our country right now, and that is the issue of immigration because immigrants are the backbone of our economy.

52 percent of business owners in New York City are emigrants. 45 percent of our labor force, foreign born. 55 percent of the children of New York City are children of immigrants.  And we are the most prosperous we have been in decades and the safest we have been ever.

We need to put those pieces together and make a point to all those who are discussing the immigration issue around the country. If the biggest thing in the country is also one of the very most prosperous cities in the country and the safest big city in the country and the ultimate city of immigrants – put those pieces together, it says a lot about the shape of America today and the future of America.

This model of a society for everyone works and we're proving it every day in New York City. And we're going to get even safer with the support of so many immigrants who make up the backbone of our population.

Let me show you something that gives you historical perspective, and I am really interested in this slide, because until yesterday, I haven't fully realized. This is a pretty amazing statistic. We’re now 38 percent foreign-born population here in New York City. I thought there had been a little bit of consistency of that in the last years. It actually has not been.

This number right now is the highest it's been since 1910. So you have to go back over a century to have a population of foreign born people in New York City as high as it is today. When this statistic was relevant – this is when my grandparents came from southern Italy. Right around here but look how we’ve come full circle and look how that’s correlated again to our prosperity and our safety – a very important point as we continue to discuss the future of our city and our country.

Now, the economy of this city is benefitting greatly from diversification. I always give credit where credit is due. Some great work was done by my predecessor in encouraging a more diverse economy. We have doubled down on that. We believe a fundamentally diverse economy is crucial to economic stability and strength our going forward.

Look at this. This is where the job growth has been in the last three years since we’ve been here. And obviously number one area has been education and health.

This professional and business category, a lot of the tech jobs have been in this piece of the equation, but look at the fact that growth has occurred over a number of different pieces of our economy. This is what any city would envy to have so many pieces of the economy working and not end up being in a dangerous situation of being overly dependent on any one so we want to keep doing that and we're particularly aware of the fact that we are less reliant on Wall Street. This number is striking and I think it goes against a lot of stereotypes. Look at this. Non-securities wage earning, almost 82 percent of the wages earned in New York City don't come from Wall Street in the financial sector. They come from all these other strong elements of our economy.

We appreciate the financial sector but we know for a number of years we were too dependent on it and it's obviously volatile by its nature. The fact that we have developed this level of economic diversity will sustain us going forward. That being said, while we are very happy with the state of our local economy, and we certainly appreciate some of the strength we see in the national economy, there are tremendous uncertainties and those uncertainties tend to emanate about 200 miles down I-95. This is a situation we have not faced in this degree in recent years. The uncertainty in Washington makes our previous situation with Washington look pretty tame.

In the last three years I would talk to you about the paralysis in Washington and the unwillingness to invest in some of the things that were so important for this city and the whole country. Now we have something much deeper. We have a level of uncertainty and variability that really challenges us. I will say at the outset, you can look at some of the issues here, the continuing resolution that's being debated right now in the Congress. The Affordable Care Act, that situation seems to literally change daily all the funding for the NYPD for counter-terrorism and other operations. Trump Tower funding, obviously a part of that. So many things we depend on; affordable housing programs, programs that support seniors and working families. All of this is in the mix.

There's really no one who knows where all this is going. The ground rules that we may have assumed to exist in the past is hard to see right now. That being said, I think a subjective statement that compared to a couple months ago when we presented a preliminary budget, we have been shown that some of the most pernicious proposals coming out of the White House will not be easily achieved. Obviously the fight that occurred over the original attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act speaks volumes and the fact that there was not even a consensus in the Republican party is a crucial fact.

The fact there was so much concern in districts of all shapes and proclivities around the country, that we saw real concern in red states and purple states as well as blue states about that, suggests something about what this debate will be going forward and ways that some of the agenda that the presidents put forward will be constrained. I think that's an important sign. I think the fact that we've seen a pretty extraordinary level of unity among Democrats in the Congress is an important factor. Nothing is certain, to say the least, but I will say I am a little more hopeful today than I was a couple of months ago, while knowing that we all have to be vigilant on each and every one of these issues.

Look, the first 100 days of Donald Trump's been a very intense and unpredictable time. I think it's fair to say the first 100 days of Donald Trump have inspired a lot of strong feelings but confidence is not one of them. There is a deep uncertainty and the sudden movements that seem to occur on a regular basis, where plans are put up and pulled down and timelines have changed constantly, doesn't resemble anything we've seen from any other White House previously, Democrat or Republican. But clearly that uncertainty is having an effect on the judgment of members of the Congress and their constituents. And I don't think there's a lot of comfort with this level of uncertainty and I think that will serve to constrain, again, some of the White House's prerogatives.

Our job is to be vigilant. Our job is to work with members of Congress and with mayors and other leaders all over the country to protect the interests of cities and to defend so many of the elements of what the federal government does now that really matter to people's everyday lives and to show how important it is to preserve those federal efforts. Now, we know right now within a lot of what we've heard from the Trump administration on the Affordable Care Act, on the continuing resolution and much more importantly on the federal budget proposal for the fall, there are tremendous dangers to our security in the funding for our counter-terror operations and our day-to-day efforts to protect people.

There's obviously an immediate danger to over two million New Yorkers who got their health insurance through Obamacare. Immediate a negative impact a repeal could have on their lives and also a very powerful negative impact on our health and hospital system, our public hospitals. We're tremendously worried about all of the elements of the affordable housing programs that we run, some of them federally supported, especially for the 400,000 people who live in public housing right now. They know that their quality life could be greatly diminished by some of the proposals out there. We literally won't know until we see more activity in the coming days and weeks what any of this will mean. We don't know what the continuing resolution alone will yield.

That could be resolved in a few days. That could be punted down the road a little but there is no clear projection on what it will mean for York city or anywhere else at this point. We don't know what recent actions on the ACA will mean. We are going to have to fight each step along the way and be able to recognize that this is such a unpredictable situation that any definitive judgment would be a fool's errand. We're going to have to let pieces play out to be able to judge them and decide our course of action. I want to speak about the state budget for a moment here, just a very different situation. State process, although there were some unpredictable elements compared to Washington it was more mainstream to say the least.

But here's a little synopsis of what happened with the state budget. It's a mix. It's not a clear positive or a negative. There was nowhere near the effort to cut New York City that we saw the previous year. Obviously, when the governor proposed the big cuts on Medicaid and CUNY nothing like that was even attempted this year. That's a good thing. There were a bunch of smaller cuts attempted, 53 million of those got restored for public health and senior centers in particular, that was an important fight. We waged particularly thankful to members of the assembly who stood by us and we got that done.

On public housing good news, at $200 million more for public housing, but we have to see it actually arrive, which has been an issue in the past with some state funding. We're going to work hard for that. Important $200 million we got for water infrastructure. On the negatives, 68 million cut in areas like foster care and special education. Those were bad cuts, they shouldn't have happened. We fought them, didn't prevail. We're going to always go back and look for opportunities in the future to get those resources back and this ongoing issue of design build, this one is just a bad example of government being inconsistent and unfair to the taxpayers.

Right now we know if we, the state of New York, had the design build authority that the state gives itself, our estimate is we could save $450 million right away in terms of making a lot of what we do on big infrastructure projects cheaper and it would allow us to take that $450 million and get a lot more done for people. The state has not been willing to apply the same standards to the city of New York as it does to itself even though we're 43 percent of the state's population. A very powerful example, the state is creating the new Kosciusko bridge, we're happy about that. They're applying the design build standard, they're making it cheaper, more efficient, that's wonderful.

Just a short ways away is a major new project that the city has to do on the BQE. We are not being granted this ability and it's going to cost a lot more than it should. So I think you're going to see a growing concern in the business community, labor community and among taxpayers, that this issue needs to be addressed as a matter of fairness so we can get a lot more done on infrastructure with the money we have. Now, I will tell you about the overall picture now with revenue. I was talking about our own revenue and what we're seeing. So again, the broader economy, we see some very positive signs, arguably some better signs than we've seen in the past. But it's not showing up in terms of revenue. This is an important distinction.

We have seen slowing of growth, the personal income tax receipts. Obviously some change in the real estate market that also have revenue ramifications. And we've seen a good thing in terms of the offsetting capacity on the property tax side but when you add it all up, we see only modest revenue growth in fiscal 18. So there's growth. That's good. It is not the revenue growth we've seen the last few years, but at least we can say there is growth. Again, we see some disconnect between the level of general economic activity and what it means in revenue terms, but at least they're secure and I think we've been very conservative in this assumption.

I think Dean and Tony and everyone who believers in being very cautious in our estimates. We've been conservative in our assumptions around revenue. That's why we say modest growth is what we assume right now. Now, we understand that the vision we have only works if we are fiscally responsible. I want to emphasize this point. I'm a absolute believer in the positive role the government can play in people's lives. I'm a believer in a progressive and inclusive economy and lots of investments we can make that really pay off in the long run for a fairer society, a better society, investments that ultimately pay for themselves in many ways.

But none of that works if you're not fiscally responsible. You have to, in my opinion, begin at the beginning and have balanced budgets and careful approaches to reserves etc. to be able to sustain a vision of the right kind of investments. It also means finding savings on a constant basis. I want to emphasize this. The effort to find savings never ends. We are not in the kind of situation that sometimes occurred, not because of anything done in the Bloomberg ministration because of the times that that administration lived through after 9/11, after the great recession where there were emergency efforts that had to be put together to find very urgent savings. We're not in that situation.

But we are in a situation that I think requires sustained vigilance and savings has to be an every-year focus. So you'll remember at the time of the primary budget we talked about getting more savings out of agencies so we set a goal between the preliminary and today of finding $500 million in savings. We have found $587 million combined with other savings, a grand total of the executive budget we're adding 700 million in new savings. These are some of the areas we're reducing overtime in some agencies. Better use of space and reducing costs. They're a better procurement process and this is really interesting in-sourcing. We're finding situations, again, some of them conventional wisdom, where having our own employees do work is cheaper than outsourcing to the private sector.

So these are all areas where we found real savings and the next slide will show you combining the savings we found for the November budget modification, the preliminary budget, executive budget Grand total over those three actions in the last six months, $2.8 billion in savings. Now this is a separate category. The slide doesn't make it clear enough. $2.8 billion in savings found in the last six months that are about to help us going forward. This piece, the $1.3 billion in healthcare savings fiscal 18, obviously was one we were already assuming from our ongoing healthcare savings effort. That is on schedule and that's going to continue thereafter.

So this is a new thing and a good thing. This is an ongoing thing and a good thing and it continues to work. This is another new thing. We're going to be instituting a partial hiring freeze for city government. It will affect certain managerial and administrative staff. I want to be very clear what this is and what this isn't. This is not an across-the-board hiring freeze. It is not asking every agency to do exactly the same thing. It is not directed at the front-line workers who provide services to New Yorkers every day. This is really focusing on an area where, bluntly, government always needs to look at the managerial administrative level.

Traditionally, there's been too much money invested at that level, not always enough at the grassroots, at the direct service level. We're very proud of the investments we made in the teachers, police officers, etc. but we think there's areas where we can save. This is largely achieved through attrition, not filling unfilled lines and finding serious savings there. We will, by the time of the adopted budget in the next five, six weeks, we will be able to tell you what that dollar figure will be and how that will be applied in the budget but we think it will be a very helpful amount. Now, okay this is straightforward, all of these reserves continue exactly as they were at the time of the preliminary budget, and again, these are the highest ever.

You see the helpful highlighting there. These are the highest reserves ever achieved by a New York City government. They are staying in place. They are projected on ongoing basis because we believe this is unnecessary. Less so because of the overall economic situation, more so because of the uncertainty we are seeing from Washington DC. Now, we came to the decision because, again, this is an exercise in making choices and choosing priorities. We came to the decision that while there's a lot of uncertainty in Washington, it's not a time for paralysis here. We have to keep investing in the things we think will improve New York City and by the way, when you look at that job growth we talked about earlier, that job growth is part of what will sustain us going forward.

That job growth not only means livelihoods for New Yorkers. It means obviously revenue that comes into the city and a growth facilitates more growth. A city that is on a growth pattern will be in a strong position on many, many levels going forward including on the revenue front. That's why sometimes, as they say in the private sector, you have to spend money to make money. We know we have to invest to keep this to be strong and competitive going forward. We're not going to let the uncertainty in Washington stop us from doing some smart and targeted investments so let me talk about some of things that we are focused on.

Obviously, the Equity and Excellence for All program, this to me is probably the piece that will have the biggest long-term impact on New York City's future. If we can actually correct decades of mistakes in our school system and make it a school system that serves every, every child with a high-quality education and across the board in every neighborhood, the ramifications of that, for a better and fairer society but also for a great workforce in the future are extraordinary and the ultimate, I think, not only the quality of life in the city improving in so many ways, but the money we will ultimately save because we made these investments at the right time.

I think it will prove to have been a very wise focus. 3-K for All, talked about this a lot the other day, I'm not going to go into detail again now. Happy to answer questions in a moment but 3-K For All, to me, this is doing the smart thing in terms of education investment. This is spending money where it can have the biggest impact. What we were doing in the past was basically we were upside down. We would put a lot of money into the education system, at a point where it would have less impact. We would not invest as a city in early childhood education even though there was so much evidence that that was where you got the highest impact and that irreplaceable opportunity to reach children during their point of fastest intellectual growth.

We're flipping the script. We're saying we have to do early childhood to the best and fullest of our ability. Doing that investment the right way will facilitate everything else we're trying to do on education and will particularly animate our ongoing effort to get all our kids reading on grade level by the time they take reading tests in third grade. So this is a big focus again. I mean 36 million next school year, next fiscal year and it will ramp up to $177 million for the school year starting in 2020, that's fiscal 21. We are also in the process fixing something that's been broken for a while; The Early Learning Program, although well-intentioned, hasn't gotten the support it deserved.

It's been an effort to give our young people, particularly from less advantaged families, our three-year-olds childcare, but without a lot of the professional development and curriculum support and educational quality that was really going to make it a game-changer for our kids. That reform is also a part of this announcement and putting all those services under the Department of Education. So we'll have the build-out as you know over the next few years and we'll be in the process of getting the additional support we need over these next few years.

Now another important ... talk about everyday thing, that parents care about and kids care about and teachers care about, I can't tell you how many times going back to when I started being a member of the school board in District 15, Brooklyn in 1999. I cannot tell you how many times I've been at a PTA meeting or a town hall meeting where parents talked about the fact that there wasn't air conditioning in their child's classroom and how much that distracted everyone from learning. There are some months of the year in New York City during our school year when it is just too hot in too many of our schools. We're going to solve it once and for all.

This investment will allow us to, and will start right away in the coming school year, will allow us to install air conditioning in all classrooms over the next five years. I think that's going to not only make it a more pleasant experience, it's going to really help us to educate our kids. Now the affordability crisis I talked to you about a lot, this is, I think, the issue that's most on the minds of New Yorkers. Folks are so desperately concerned about being priced out of their own city and their own neighborhood.

There's a lot we have to do to address this and that is on one level a focus on deepening all of our affordable housing efforts, but it's also about giving people the resources they need to pay for housing; more jobs, better-paying jobs, more access to those jobs. That's another crucial piece of the equation. So first on the affordable housing side, we announced this earlier ... We're shifting some of the focus within our affordable housing plan. We're adding a major investment; 1.9 billion.

That's going to allow us to reach 10,000 more households with lower income levels as part of our affordable housing plan and we devote 5000 more of our units to seniors, 500 more to veterans. This is a strategic shift we think is very much necessary based on what we're seeing on the ground and what the needs of communities are. The access to counsel, a big priority for the City Council that we worked on together. This is going to guarantee that folks make up the $50,000 and are threatened with eviction will have a lawyer provide the city to help them avoid that eviction.

That's going to be great for those families and for preserving affordable housing overall and a new piece in this important ... this investment in NYCHA. I want to remind you we had a billion-dollar investment earlier in the preliminary budget for the roofs at NYCHA, a crying need and a situation that was causing, sadly, some real health concerns of mold and other problems that were affecting the health of residents. That investment was used to begin with ... we're adding a $355 million-dollar capital investment. To repair façades is a 150 billion. These are buildings where we think there's real safety issues with the façades. We want to make sure people are safe. We're going to put that money in and that will affect the quality of life overall in these developments.

When you combine this 1.355 billion dollars, one and 1/3 billion dollars basically, well that's the biggest investment the city of New York has made in capital funding from NYCHA in any year in our history, to the best of our knowledge. And it reflects our commitment to the 400,000 people who live in public housing and it also sadly reflects the fact that the federal government has been disinvesting over many years in public housing. It's a sad reality. Now back in the time of my greatest predecessor, Fiorello LaGuardia, federal government helped us build this extraordinary affordable housing that we call public housing.

The federal government was front and center as part of the solution over the last 30 years or more that we've seen declining federal commitment. We can't stand idly by. This is a case where we had to do something, bolder than ever before, and we think it's a smart long-term investment in affordable housing in this city. Now, another crucial piece that we need to address relates to our seniors. You know, the affordability crisis is affecting everyone, but for so many of our seniors it's affecting them very deeply because a lot of people who are in the workforce in particular, have some expectation of continued income, even growing income, for a lot of our seniors.

Of course, they're not getting a new income. They're on a fixed income and that fixed income is having a hard time keeping up with growing expenses and a higher cost of living. We want to lighten the burden. I heard this a lot from council members over the last year and at town hall meetings. I think it's a real concern. It was something we could do about so we're working with the state legislature over these coming weeks, a piece of legislation that we've worked together with State Senator, Diane Savino, who as you know is a member of the IDC and assembly member, Brian Kavanagh. This will create an expansion of the senior citizen disabled homeowners exemption program.

It will be a city budget impact of just over $61 million and what it means is that folks who are part of 32,000 households, this is a real far-ranging impact, 32,000 households, even more people obviously. They'll save on average $1750 on their property taxes each year and it's going to start quickly so people will start to feel it in the course of this next fiscal year when passed in Albany and we think there's a lot of interest in Albany in getting this done. Previously, seniors who, in so many cases ... The famous phrase "cash poor and house rich" or "house rich and cash poor" ... A lot of seniors in this city had a house paid off in many cases, but they didn't have any money. They didn't have any income and they had to pay for everything else.

This will increase that income threshold. A lot like we did with the rental exemption programs, SCRIE and DRIE, above and 37,400 and 58,400. This will mean for, again, 32,000 households ... a huge amount of relief that will allow them to make ends meet a lot better and it's a recognition that seniors need a lot more support in terms of affordability. So this, combined with the ... Earlier after I mentioned to add more senior housing units to our affordable housing plan and obviously the ongoing effort to win the mansion tax in Albany, which would benefit 25,000 senior households. These are all part of a big focus on senior affordable housing.

Now next, continuing on affordability, we have issued a very clear vision to add 100,000 more good-paying jobs in the coming years, and there are investments we're making to achieve it. A lot was already underway but we're adding to it, the green jobs. This is going to be crucial to our efforts to address climate change. This investment of 12.8 million is going to allow us to train 3000 New Yorkers. Once they're trained, this is not just short-term jobs. This is a career, this has long-term ramifications. It will give us the workforce we need to do constant retrofits and to improve the use of renewable energy in the city. For those 3000 families, they're on a long-term track to a stable economic life.

The Made in New York campus at Bush terminal also has $136 million-dollar capital investment that's going to allow us to create 1500 new jobs. Again, these are all areas where you're talking about high-paying jobs, long-term job opportunities that will be up and running in just a few years. These are examples, many more to come, of the kind of investments that will get us to that hundred-thousand job goal. Just a reminder, that Made in New York campus, the average salary in those fields; in fashion about 57,000 a year, in film and TV about 53,000 year. So that, again, squarely in the vein ... We want to see more such jobs in the city. We want to see jobs that people can afford to live on. That's where we're putting a lot of our strategic investments.

Now it's great to be able to say this sentence every single month and that the NYPD, to their great credit, working with neighborhood partners and working with folks on the ground who are doing amazing work like the Cure Violence movement, that we continue to see great success driving down crime. So first quarter of this year, again, safest we've ever seen ... neighborhood policing deepening all the time. You'll see on the next slide a couple of key investments we're making now. We know domestic violence is issue that we're seeing an increased focus on rightfully by the NYPD and many other parts of city government. We've been urging people to come forward more and more and not suffer in silence and thank God many more people are.

It's making very clear to us we have to keep investing to stop domestic violence at its core, but also respond when God forbid it happens. There are a couple of crucial new investments in family justice centers and trauma care for affected children. This was part of a task force that was put together with experts from around the city and has come up with a vision of how we can deepen our efforts against domestic violence. Also, something that's worked really well, ShotSpotter has been a fantastic success. It has led us to be able to find a number perpetrators we never would've in the past, to seize a lot of weapons we never would've in the past. We're continuing to add and cover another substantial piece of the city with ShotSpotter that would be in place by the end of next year.

The next area I want to talk about, this again couldn't be more timely. I talked to before about what it means to be in the safest city and the most prosperous city and also the most immigrant city and how we need to connect those dots. Well, sadly, while all those facts are true, while this city government in so many ways shows respect and inclusion for our immigrant fellow New Yorkers, the national situation has created tremendous fear and disruption. Obviously people who are hard-working people fear that their lives could be disrupted and they and/or their loved ones could be deported. City Council has made this a major priority and we agree with them.

We'll be adding $16 million in the budget so that New Yorkers who are threatened with deportation who are working to feed their families, including asylum-seekers and a very, very sensitive group; the unaccompanied children, that we don't see a situation where families are torn apart, children are taken from their loved ones, parents are taken from their children. We need to be there for our fellow New Yorkers who are immigrants. We need them to have some confidence that there will be support for them, God forbid, they end up in this situation.

So we've done a number of things to instill confidence and support over the years including IBNYC and the entire way our police force and other city agencies work with immigrants, but this piece, I wish we did not have to include this in our budget but we have to because of the policies emanating from Washington. A couple other very important areas, we talked a lot about the opioid crisis. $38 million-dollar investment being made. We talked about this a few weeks back. A major, major concern for this city. This investment's going to allow us to reduce deaths from this tragic situation by 35 perfect over the coming years. This is a work that will never end. Obviously, we cannot rest until we turn the tide entirely on this.

I really want to give a lot of credit to the NYPD and other first responders who are using naloxone more than ever and are reversing overdoses at an extraordinary rate. We certainly heard about that during Staten Island weekly, amazing success NYPD members of Staten Island had. We got to get the root cause of this and a lot of what we're investing in will help us do that. But in the meantime, lives are being saved every single day because we're giving our first responders and families the tools they need and it's having a real impact.

Then just a couple other key points I want to raise because we need to keep improving the quality of life, all those big items I talked about are crucial but we have to consistently improve the quality of life in this city. So [inaudible]. Sorry, I'll have to take you over to the right here. This vision for the Manhattan Greenway, this is over 1/4 century old. This vision has still has not been achieved. Some extraordinary parts have and obviously Hudson River Park's been a great example of success, but as many have said, this is the single most important island on the earth. And in so many ways, we're missing an opportunity to get people back to the waterfront and to give that experience.

You know I've had a couple of experiences that really convinced me of this. I used to live up here at 104th and West End when I went to graduate school in Columbia, that was back in the 80s. I loved everything that was available in Riverside Park and I always wondered how it was that it wasn't something for the whole borough of Manhattan and for all the people in New York City. I also had the experience of being deeply involved in the creation of Brooklyn Bridge Park and I saw it go from empty piers to one of the premier parks in the city. 80 acres that's having an amazing impact on the quality life for people in many parts of Brooklyn and for folks from all over the city.

This is though the wave of the future to keep getting back to the waterfront and it correlates with the focus on our ferry service, which we're so proud of, it's going to start on May 1st. I think that's going to be a game-changer for how people get around this city, but all that gets back to the same point. This is the ultimate maritime city. This is why we are here. This is why New York was started. This is why New York is great and yet, the city was built to turn it's back on the waterfront. And that got recognized decades ago and some real progress was made but we still haven't completed this fundamental vision of having a Greenway all around Manhattan Island. We're going to get that done and the first piece we're working on is here on the east side. That's been waiting for a long time ago and that's 100 million to continue the effort to create the full contiguous 32-mile promenade around Manhattan.

This piece, 53rd street to 61st street – crucial piece of the equation. We're going to get to work on that right away; expected completion 2022. That's the first piece that's tangible. We'll have other announcements going forward on other specific pieces. Over here again, these circles, some big some small, indicate where there are gaps in this Greenway and obviously we're going at one of the biggest ones right here but there are a couple other very major ones, and the smaller ones have to be addressed over time. We will be funding in this budget a study and we expect results by the end of this year, that will give us the game plan on how long it will take to fill in all the gaps and how much it will cost. And then we'll proceed to prioritize them and get to work on acting on each one, and that will be reflected in next year's preliminary budget.

So that piece, I think will improve quality of life in so many ways. Another piece that's important, everyone wants a cleaner city. It hasn't always been our number one strength in New York City, but we are making a lot of progress. And one thing is another pet peeve of mine I've experienced over many years is seeing how so many of our sidewalks are really dirty and they have been dirty for a long time and never properly cleaned. As I said to the City Council members, too many years of too much gum thrown on the sidewalk that never got cleaned up and so many other things. This investment in 14 sidewalk cleaning trucks are literally going to power-wash sidewalks and clean them up in a way we've never been able to do before. You'll start to see that this fall.

Another great thing in terms of a cleaner and better city and a better environment, electronics recycling, something I've worked on for a long time back to my City Council days. Great work was done in Staten Island and we started a pilot there and it worked. Literally folks who'd call 311 asked sanitation to come over, pick up their old TVs and other electronics. It worked like a charm. We'll be expanding that now in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and that's going to make a big difference for the city as well. It's going to be easier for people to just make that phone call and get stuff picked up. So those are examples of some of the great investments that improve quality of life. I will conclude with just a few points.

The goal of any budget course is to express priorities but also, by definition, to express values. Values are clear. We want an inclusive economy, we want a fairer city, we want a sustainable city. We need to know this will be a place for everyone. We know in recent years that has been threatened. We know the cost of living and the growing development challenges have threatened the very nature of this city. We have to respond constantly with strategic moves that help us keep this a city for everyone. That is the magic of New York City, that it's someplace that has always been representative of every kind of people and that anyone had a shot to make it. And as the great city of immigrants, again, it's worked as a city of strivers and people seeking to better themselves and their families. We got to keep it that way. So this budget is about making the investments that will allow us to do that.

Just a few key points on a – sorry, one more point and then I'll say a few words in Spanish. One more point. Again, we will not be paralyzed because Washington DC is paralyzed. We're not going to ... Even if there's uncertainty in Washington, even if things go up and down in Washington, we're not going to let that change us. I said at Cooper Union some months ago, a national action doesn't change our values, but I would also say. a White House plan or strategy doesn't change our strategy and our approach. We're going to stay true to our strategic vision. We'll deal with whatever comes out of Washington but we're not going to wait. And I've talked to mayors all over the country who feel the same way.

We got to keep changing and improving our cities while fighting for a different national reality at the same time. Just a few words in Spanish and then Dean Fuleihan will come up and fill in a few other pieces before we take your questions.

[Mayor de Blasio speaks Spanish]

With that now, going back to English, Dean Fuleihan will come forward and will offer some insights. Thank you.

Director Dean Fuleihan, Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget: Thank you Mr. Mayor. I'm going to do a brief overview on the financial plan and then there will be a technical briefing after the questions and answers. Just quickly, on the quarterly update, what are the changes since the preliminary budget, so if we start at the very top obviously we were balanced in 2017 and 2018 when we presented the preliminary budget. Then in 19, 20 and 20, one of those were the gaps we confronted.

We then have the revenue changes for the executive budget. Modest changes in the current fiscal year, but more significant changes of reduction in our forecast of 567 million for all taxes. So while that is a reduction and is a cautious estimate and more cautious, I believe, than what most of our monitors and other people who've come out, who've looked at the fiscal year 18, it's still assuming growth.

So we are assuming tax revenue growth of 2% in the current year, 3.2, it's still modest growth compared to what we've seen in prior years, but it does assume growth and that reduction therefore follows out into 19, 20 and 21 because of the base reduction. On non-tax revenues, as we did in the preliminary budget ... I would love to stay with the first light ... In the non-tax revenues those are miscellaneous receipts so we're recognizing some additional miscellaneous receipts and in the current year some additional one-time revenues as we did in the preliminary budget as well.

The next group ... back, stay here ... The next group on expenditures ... This lists for you the expense changes, 153 million. These are the agency expenditures that have increased in 733 million. As the mayor pointed out, basically these were offset, effectively completely offset, by the citywide savings program of 330 million in the current year, 370 million and those numbers grow in the out years, as well as the pension line, which shows actuarial changes. That is not in earnings. The reduction in pension has nothing to do with the pension earnings, that's simply actuarial changes that occur every year and you're familiar with every year.

Normally that's actually been an increasing number from the actuary and this year it's a reduction. Those two make up for both the agency expenses and the enacted state budget changes that the mayor referred to. The foster care reimbursement and the special education reimbursement, which are 34 million and then in the out years, in the 18 and the out years is 68 million. In the current year that left us with an additional 672 million, which allowed us to add to the base we had of 3.1 billion, which now becomes 3.7 which is how we balance the 18-year in the next slide ... Now I'll let you move.

So this next slide is city funds and once again the technical briefing will go in more detail. Are you on the wrong slide? I jumped there, thank you. On the city funds, the 18 number of 61.1 billion, and once again the technical we're happy to go over this. I would like to point out at the very bottom, the general reserve. We maintain in, as the mayor pointed out, in 18 the billion-dollar general reserve in every single year of the financial plan and the capital stabilization reserve of 250 million of every year. These are levels that have never been achieved before by the city. The traditional level is $300 million, which is actually what we have remaining in the current fiscal year.

The next slide is the off/on slide and once again the 18 number, 84.8 that the mayor talked about, let's keep going, just shows where the dollars come from and where they go. We'll keep going on to the 10-year capital strategy. The mayor pointed out the 10-year capital strategy of the 95.8 billion. This breaks it down into the major categories with a significant amount of this expenditure being in state of good repair, plus the initiatives that the mayor highlighted. Then quickly to the next slide, this shows where the financing is coming from. So the very first line in general obligation and transitional finance authority, that's city debt. Then the Water Authority, which funds the DP expenditures and then the federal, state amounts.

Then finally on the last slide, which is the one we care about in terms of for our capital budget, is to maintain a long-standing ... This is a long-standing benchmark of affordability and it is saying that our city debt service as a percent of city tax revenues will remain well below 15% through our entire 10-year plan and that's the key benchmark that the city has been using for decades. With that, I'll turn it back to the mayor.

Mayor: Well done. Okay. We are now going to take a lot of questions. Hold on, I'm drinking first. This is not alcohol. Might be tempting, but it's not.

Question: Mr. Mayor what percentage of the city’s municipal work force does the hiring freeze represent, both in terms of percentage and raw numbers and how much of the budgetary savings have the entire cost of the municipal workforce?

Mayor: All that, we’re going to come back for the adoptive; again I said five, six weeks from now with a number and a specific vision. We think it’ll be a meaningful contribution to our budget, but we have to discern the way we want to do that. It will not effect, as I said, front line workers but if you just focus on administrative and managerial workers in the city workforce, that’s a lot of people.

Question: Can you ballpark it –

Mayor: I’m not going to ballpark it today.

Question: Can you give us some examples of job titles that would –

Mayor: Again, that’s all going to come out as we go on towards the adopted budget.


Question: How much is actually in the reserves plus the capital stabilization fund, and the healthcare fund. So what is the total you kind of have in the bank should something disastrous happen?

Mayor: 5.25 billion between general reserves, health benefits fund and capital stabilization reserve but importantly that’s this coming fiscal year of eighteen. But then it recurs in terms of the general reserve and the capital stabilization reserve for multiple years and obviously the health benefits fund remains at its level. So that’s a stable number going forward, and again 5.25 billion, I mean when I was in the city council, I was in the city council up until the end of 2009, we could never have dreamed of a number like that, so it’s really a wonderful hedge against anything that could happen out there.

Question: And given the amount of uncertainty, I mean there’s no question that this budget has grown and –

Mayor: Yes.

Question:  – the capital plan in particular has grown by six billion dollars, you have fiscal watchdogs saying we may get cut by a lot from Washington, how can you justify that type of spending?

Mayor: It’s a very crucial question but I want to make sure everyone understands the theory of the case here. I think everyone in this room would agree, there’s not a single human being on Earth who knows what’s going to happen in Washington D.C., I mean I think we’ve seen again a level of unpredictability that is without any historic precedent. So we could be facing very severe cuts, we could be facing very limited cuts, we could face an action that really changes the Affordable Care Act or we could see stability with the Affordable Care Act, we just don’t know. So point one is, we came to a strategic assumption and we think it’s the right one, that if you have no idea where something is going and no one else does, it’s dangerous to start making decisions based on that reality. And it’s counterproductive because it will stop us from making investments we might need to make that we believe in. So that’s part one of the equation. Second, we’re going to fight against changes that would hurt our people, and that fight against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, had a huge impact and that was all over the country. Look right here in New York City our one Republican Congressmen Dan Donovan came out against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act because a lot of people in the city and in his district made their voices known. And he made the right decision. That was crucial, that one vote made a difference let alone dozens and dozens of votes that are up for grabs in cities and metropolitan areas all over the country. So, by any definition that fight was won in the first round. If the Affordable Care Act repeal proceeds out the House, there’s going to be a huge fight in the Senate, and it’s a tough playing field for those who want to repeal it. And the same on the budget, I mean right now as I mentioned the continuing resolution, we don’t know – a lot of people believe that we’ll have relatively little change. The big venue is about five months down the line with the fall budget fight in Washington. A lot of what’s been proposed is going to be very unpopular and you’ll see a lot of Republican Senators and Congress people queasy about it. So you can’t plan on something that has no shape, and each of these items can be fought for, the ones we care about can be fought for and protected. And again, we’re just not going to be paralyzed by uncertainty, we have to keep investing. So we believe these are smart and measured investments that will make a big impact. We also have unprecedented reserves, so we have an immediate [inaudible] if there were any challenges. I think when you add this all up it’s the right way to go. I would remind you, a question came up a few days back about you know, the State is taking its own approach, we have a different approach to how we would deal with federal uncertainty. We have, you know, multiple opportunities in a year in January, April, June, November, that we can modify our budget and we have great capacity, and I know that Tony and Dean and our deputy mayors are all able to quickly make adjustments if we see a problem, we can slow down spending, speed up spending, whatever it happens to be. We have a lot of latitude. So, if we see a danger we can start acting on that danger very quickly. So that way I look at it, I’m sorry for the long answer, but I think it’s – you’ve asked the most essential question, you know the way I look at it is, we could sit around dead in the water just waiting for the unknown or we could keep moving and keep building our city. But God forbid something happens that’s really going to hurt our people, we have plenty of ways to respond in real time and protect our interests. So we’re quite confident about that.


Question: [Inaudible] immigrant legal services. Is there going to be any sort of screening or [inaudible] for example there are [inaudible] for which the NYPD and the Department of Correction cooperate with ICE. There’s also another very long list of [inaudible] that it does not cooperate with ICE – forcible touching, child endangerment, criminal possession of a firearm. Is there a good chance [inaudible] the NYPD has turned over for a violent offense or has not turned over or not detained but has committed what some consider a serious crime like –

Mayor: No.

Question: Like misdirection of prescription drugs.

Mayor: No. The rules we’ll create will not allow legal defense to be provided for anyone in the categories where we are working with ICE on. So, the 170 categories. Obviously, those are folks who have been convicted, let’s be clear. Those are folks who have been convicted under our law. It’s abundantly clear upon being convicted we are in a position to work with ICE. And we believe that’s good policy. So, we’re not – it would be counterproductive to provide legal defense. We’re not going to do that.

That law, as I said, we’re looking at some potential additions to that law. Some of the categories that you mentioned are things we’re going to look at. We’ll have more to say on that soon.

The bigger point is – and this is why this whole debate is so broken, there’s no words for it – I’d ask all of you, look, you guys are in a position to help this city and this country understand this issue. And I would urge you to take that responsibility very seriously.

Ask Commissioner O’Neill, ask any law enforcement expert – the vast majority of folks who are immigrants, in general, do not commit crime. The vast majority of undocumented immigrants do not commit crime. Many law enforcement experts believe that immigrants commit crime at a lesser rate than the general population.

The number of people who commit very serious and violent crimes like the ones in the 170 crime list is very, very small as opposed to the 500,000 undocumented immigrants who are here, 500,000 permanent residents who are here both in New York City, or take the 11 million undocumented folks in the country.

This is all one big lie because what’s really happening here – this is about the demonization of immigrants and it’s about racism. If you really look at the numbers and you really look at the facts, crime is not being driven by a small number of undocumented folks who create violent and serious crime. We’re talking here about the other 499,000-plus who are in a position where they could be deported whether they commit a crime or not, or they could be deported for committing a very minor offense such as a quality-of-life offense.

We don’t think that’s right. So, that’s how we cut the –

Question: [Inaudible] City Council said they’re not interested in amending that list of crimes –

Mayor: The City Council has not said any such thing.

Question: The Speaker said it –

Mayor:The City Council is –

Question: The Speaker –

Mayor: My friend, I’m responding to you. The City Council will make a judgement when we have a dialogue with them and we present a proposal. Do not assume.

Question: Okay. And even so, then, there is a chance somebody say convicted of forcible touching or misdirection of prescription drugs could –

Mayor: I don’t think there is any such chance, honestly. I just don’t.

Question: Mr. Mayor, there’s $1.1 billion in the budget for construction of jail facilities [inaudible] Department of Corrections budget. What is that $1.1 billion going to fund and will it fund – will it go toward reconstructing Brooklyn House and Queens House?

Mayor: So, the reality right now is since the decision made jointly with the Council to close Rikers Island on the planned timeline of ten years requires additional facilities even though I have some disagreements with the Council on some of the specifics of the commission report.

The basic concept is sound that we need community-based facilities. That money in the budget is for the design of those community-based facilities.

Question: Community-based facilities in Queens, Brooklyn?

Mayor: So, this begs an important question and it’s a conversation we’re going to have with the City Council in the coming days and weeks to determine their readiness to act on specific sites.

My view is if they are – and I think there’s goodwill here. I think Council members have been very open. But if there are specific sites that there’s an agreement between the mayoralty and the Council that could be activated then we need a very specific timeline for the ULURP process.

Question: Has the City been in touch with the State government regarding the lease or purchase of Rikers Island for the expansion LaGuardia?

Mayor: That’s way off in the future. Right now our focus is on determining the immediate pathway to whatever appropriate community-based sites. I’ll also that we have to – it’s a ten-year vision – we have to keep making sure that folks both who work there and are serving time on Rikers are treated decently. So, we still have work to do on the existing facilities to try and make them as decent as they can be in the meantime.

But the immediate step to take with the Council is to determine specific sites and to determine a pathway to begin a ULURP process. To me, the initiation of ULURP process even the announcement of the initiating of the ULURP is when the rubber hits the road.

Question: [Inaudible]

Mayor: Again, that’s a conversation we have started. And the sooner we can announce, the better off we are in my view.

David –

Question: How much of the $2.8 billion in savings that you guys found in the last six months comes from the [inaudible] pension costs –

Mayor: It’s not in there [inaudible] –

Question: [Inaudible]

Director Fuleihan: It’s not part of the $2.8 billion. I was simply – what I was highlighting was the Executive Budget and the offsetting pieces but those are not part of the $2.8 billion.

Question: So, where does that – there’s like $700 million I guess is the estimate. How much is the estimated lower costs for the pensions in this budget?

Director Fuleihan: The pension numbers were on that – the gap sheet and it was – I apologize. It was $20 million in the current year and then it was $200 – it was basically between $253 and $270 million every year thereafter.

Question: [Inaudible] given that President Trump is planning to visit next week. The NYPD says it costs about $300,000 roughly a day to provide security for him. I don’t see anything in this budget, you know, sort of, looking forward to these kinds of visits by the President. Do you anticipate, if you haven’t been reimbursed so far for the costs during the transition – is there anywhere in this budget that you’re anticipating more money on that –

Mayor: So, an occasional visit like the President is doing is consistent with what President Obama did or President Bush did. That’s already an assumption. It’s not like – to the best of my knowledge, we don’t have a line in the NYPD budget. It is an assumption like General of the UN every year and things like that. Occasional visits – not our challenge. We can ions where deal with that, and, obviously, there are situations where we get federal reimbursement historically for some of that. The question on Trump Tower – we’re right in the middle of the final days and hours of that immediate issue being addressed. We don’t know – there’s been a lot of communication back and forth with the Congress – with members of the Congress – and even some with the executive branch to determine what will be in the continuing resolution. A couple of jumps here – the continuing resolution will hopefully address, at minimum, the period between the election and the inaugural. We’d like to see as much definition going forward as possible. We’re not going to be surprised, of course, if a lot of that has to wait until the full budget in the fall. But we’ve said very clearly, we’re not budgeting for something that’s a federal responsibility. Again, I think that would be like saying, well, don’t even bother to pay us back, we’ll just budget. We don’t believe it’s appropriate. We believe this is an absolute federal responsibility, and, I have to say, I’m pleased, having talked to a number of Republicans in the Congress – I haven’t talked to every one of them, to say the least – but the ones I’ve talked to – no one disagrees in principle that this is the kind of thing the federal government should cover. So, we’re going to remain at least mostly hopeful. 

Question: Mayor de Blasio, you mentioned the naloxone and emergency responses to opioid abuse. You also said the City would invest in the root cause. What do you believe the root cause is?

Mayor: I think – you know, we talked about this when we announced the policy. Some of the root causes of course were the proliferation of prescription drugs in quantities that never should have been allowed. We are working to educate healthcare providers that they need to limit their prescriptions to the maximum extent possible. You know, the classic – you come off an operation or something, you might be in pain for three days, and they give you a 60-day supply of oxycontin – that’s unacceptable, that’s dangerous. So, we’re trying to work with other partners to limit that problem. Obviously – more efforts to cut off supply of illegal drugs – more NYPD resources shifting that way; some serious educational and preventative efforts in terms of young people. Those are all elements going at root causes. I would argue everything in ThriveNYC is another element of going at root causes because, you know, the interplay of substance abuse and mental health challenges is quite deep, and we haven’t had a go-to place to turn if you have either challenge in this city on an ongoing basis. Part of what my wife emphasizes with 888-NYC-WELL is, now, if you have a problem, if you have the beginning of a problem, if a loved one has a problem, there’s a go-to place that can actually connect you to ongoing treatment before anything gets out of hand – I think that’s going at the root cause. So, all of those approaches. 

Who has not had a shot? Willie? 

Question: Two questions – the first is that $1 billion in spending for a new jail facilities appears to be spent entirely in the first year of the 10-year capital plan, 2018. 

Mayor: It’s design money. 

Question: So, that’s all going to be spent in one year?

Mayor Well, you ideally want to spend it as quickly as possible. It’s design money to do – and, again, we are not putting a specific to this until we get some commitments from the Council, but to do multiple facilities, the design alone is a very major and costly endeavor. You want to do as much as you can, certainly, in the first year. We’re talking about – this whole thing has to be achieved in 10 years. We would want to start immediately. 

Question: [Inaudible] from what you just said is that your anticipation is that over the next year you will have with the City Council agreement on siting facilities in order to be able to design them –

Mayor: Our preference – anticipation may be a little strong a word, but let me say preference – is to determine the specific sites and for there to be ownership by the Council with the initiation, or even the formal acknowledgment that the ULURP process needs to begin. That will allow us to start the design process, because, as you know, ULURP is interactive. To some extent, you have to do a certain amount of design to go through ULURP, and then other elements of design depend on ULURP. But, look, 10 years is by one measure a long time, by another measure not that long a time. We need to start right away if there’s agreement. If they really have skin in the game and they say, yup, here are the district’s, let’s start ULURP – we have every interest in moving as quickly as possible. 

Question: There’s discussions with the Metropolitan Museum of Art to acquire an entrance fee for a non-city resident. Are you in favor of that? And could that affect the City’s funding for the MET?

Mayor: I believe if it’s properly implemented to specifically reach non-city residents, yes, I think that would be fair to ask non-city, obviously, many of whom are our 60 million tourists, to pay a little more. I’m a big fan of Russian oligarchs paying more to get into the MET. The – I don’t think we have an assumption about city funding. I think it’s about them being able to sustain their operations longterm, and it would actually mean they wouldn’t need a additional city funding, in theory. But the real issue is just to allow them to defray some of their costs that’s fair to city residents.


Question: Do you – you tied the health of the city’s [inaudible] and success to the presence of the immigrant population here. I was wondering if you have seen, as some people have voiced concerns in recent months, actual, specific impacts either on the revenue side, on sales tax collection, anywhere in this budget where you can point to definitive impacts of the new vibe on immigration from Washington and how that’s hurting the city, or what impact it’s having. Is there anything –

Mayor: No. Broadly, no, and I want to define that for a moment. First of all, it’s very early on. This administration’s only been in place for a few months. There’s a bunch of areas of concern. We’re deeply concerned that undocumented families or mixed-documentation families will stop seeking the things that they need as families, whether it’s health care, or public education, or childcare, whatever it may be. We’re concerned about our tourism levels. There’s a number of areas to be concerned, but, if you really break each one down and look specifically, we haven’ seen seismic changes yet. And, remember – again, this is part of what’s different from when we were here two months or so ago – someone bring out the batting average here – I’m trying to remember which of the executive orders that we thought would be disruptive to New York City managed to get through without a successful court challenge. Right now, it seems that there’s a fundamental problem with many of the policies the Trump administration has attempted that are the ones that worry us the most. The immigration executive order was obviously successfully challenged in court. We saw the decision yesterday. The travel ban – twice successfully challenged in court. The repeal of the ACA failed. I’m not saying we should rest on any laurels. I’m not saying there aren’t huge challenges ahead. I’m saying the things that materially would have affected us haven’t happened, and the cold, hard reality is that a lot of the immigration enforcement has been an attempt to create fear and to score political points. It hasn’t numerically differed that much from the previous administration. So, I think at this moment – and, Dean, if there’s any nuance to correct me on – I would say, by and large, we have not seen specific things, factual things that have changed the way we budget. 

Who’s next? Okay, Anna?

Question: Two questions – the Citizen’s Budget Commission released a statement criticizing you guys for not cutting back on spending given the political and economic uncertainties –

Mayor: I’m shocked.

Question: Do you think that you’re spending too much –

Mayor: Where did we go wrong?

Question: – or is that something that you consider? Do you think that maybe offsetting increases in spending isn’t enough?

Mayor: Look, I have a great deal of respect for the Citizen’s Budget Commission. They do very good work and they’re a great part of the civic construct that helps us think about a host of issues. We don’t always agree, but I think they do a great service. I think it’d be an interesting survey to see how many mayoral budgets over the last decades they approved of wholesale. I think it’s their nature to criticize mayoral budgets. It’s their nature to oppose any new spending. I think that’s just who they are. That’s fine. We believe – this is philosophical, and I think it’s healthy to have a very open philosophical discussion. I would say this is a city that gave birth to the New Deal and a progressive vision of the role of government, and I subscribe to that vision. We think investing in things like pre-K and 3-K builds a better future for everyone. We think investing in affordable housing keeps this city a place for everyone. You go down the list – wouldn’t take ay of those investments back, wouldn’t take back our investment in 2,000 more officers on patrol, and Neighborhood Policing, and the counter-terror forces. I’m comfortable that we’ve made a series of strategic assumptions. They seem to be working. If you look at safety, if you look at job creation, if you look at increases in graduation rates and test scores – these investments are working, of course we should keep making them. But, at the same time, we have the highest reserves we’ve ever had, and we’re ready on a dime to react to any changes in federal policy, if they’re at all consistent for more than a few days. So, I think they’re doing their job, but we’re doing our job. 

Question: [Inaudible] not the only ones that –

Mayor: That’s the nature of democracy. There will be plenty of voices that – you know, look, there’s an ideological current that believes we should shrink the size of government. We disagree – simple as that. We think that government needs to address people’s needs and build the economic future. Look, I would argue more broadly – and this is a bigger point – a lot of the economics in the world – I don’t pretend to be an expert – there are people like Alicia, and Tony, and Dean that know a lot more than me – but I believe a lot of the economies in the world that are working the best are where their governments are investing in infrastructure, education, research – that that’s actually the model that works in the modern world and the absence of those investments hold you back economically ,as well as socially. I’ll challenge anyone on that point. And we have a government that’s the right size to address the needs of New Yorkers, and we have a balanced budget, and we have reserves – that’s what we’re supposed to be doing. 

Question: Second question – the opioid plan, the homelessness plan – there were also – you’ve also spoken plan a congestion plan. Why hasn’t that been released before the executive budget? Because I’m assuming that that plan would [inaudible] funding.

Mayor: Our Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg is working on that plan and she’ll bring it forward when it’s ready. Again, we have many opportunities to adjust our budget along the way. It has to be ready. And I will say upfront, there’s some things we can do as a city. There’s some things we’ll need the State to do, because the State controls so many of our key highways. But she’s working on that plan and when it’s ready is when we’ll bring it forward. 

Question: So, a year ago at this press conference, we spent a lot of time talking about the Health and Hospitals Corporation and the dire financial situation that it was in at the time, with the City putting in ore money just to get through that fiscal year. We didn’t hear as much about that today, although I suspect the federal situation has probably not gotten better. 

Mayor: Well, it hasn’t gotten worse either, and that’s important. I think, bluntly, if there had been a repeal of the ACA, we’d be having a different discussion. 

Mayor: It didn’t happen. You know the scheduled repeal of President’s signature – President Obama’s signature achievement did not happen. You know, it’s still there and it’s got a pretty strong position right now having survived that first attempt. I’m not belittling this new attempt at all but I’m saying, you know, you only get one chance to make a first impression and the first time around the effort to repeal the ACA failed and that’s very, very important. This fiscal year, health and hospitals budget is in balance, very aggressive plans for the future to address its long term needs. We’ve had great cooperation with out labor partners all of whom understand the depth of the challenge and it’s the same dynamic if the ACA survives, where in that much better of a situation, if the ACA is stuck down or limited we’re in that much worse situation, we’ll have to adjust but we’re not presuming it because there’s no reason to based on what we’ve seen already.

Question:  Was it part of the issue with HHC Hospitals the ACA itself or that undocumented people couldn’t get that health insurance –

Mayor: That hasn’t changed. That hasn’t changed. No, the big X factor was we have half – first of all, every one of the, you know, two million New Yorkers who have health insurance under the ACA, imagine them no longer having it, that’s disproportionally people who go to health and hospital facilities. So there’s a huge funding stream. Second, we wanted to try to get at the 500,000 who are eligible and don’t have it which is why we started the Get Covered NYC initiative which made great progress in January and we intend to do a lot more. Now we have a lot more running room to keep doing that and getting more and more people health insurance and then as they go to H&H facilities there’ll actually be reimbursement. So the undocumented situation has not changed, and it’s obviously a big problem, that won’t be solved until there’s comprehensive immigration reform, that’s a ways in the future to say the least. But we feel confident in health and hospitals situation this fiscal year, we think we have a good plan for next fiscal year, we’re going to keep executing that plan and we’ve been very clear, there will be a lot of [inaudible] through attrition and if something changes the ACA, then we’re going to have to come back to the drawing board.

Question Just on that hiring freeze, it’s obviously something new for the city budget under your administration, can you explain to us what made you make the decision to do – what was different this year that prompted the need –

Mayor: You know, two things, I mean we think there is room to do it, is the number one reason. We have a certain number of unfilled lines and as we’ve seen that phenomenon we believe some of those lines don’t need to be filled. And that’s based on OMB analysis that it’s an area where we can save money, so we want to save money, and I said we’re going to be doing savings on an ongoing basis as long as I’m – have the opportunity to be – to serve in this role. We’re going to continue to do savings. This was a new area where we could get more savings and we believed it could be done in a way that would not affect service to New Yorkers.  So that’s an immediate opportunity and look, again we look at these uncertainties very soberly, we just refuse to attempt a definition that cannot be achieved. We see the uncertainties, we’re prepared, we’re vigilant, we should always be looking for savings for every reason, that’s a great reason to go look for even more. And so it was an area we thought we could get more done in.

Question: Mr. Mayor, if I’m reading the budget correctly, it looks like there’s about 37 million dollars going to ACS and I’m wondering when David Hansell took over as Commissioner you said that you had assured him that there would be resources there to manage agency in the way you thought was necessary. Did he ask you for – is this money that he asked you for because of specific things he wanted to do differently or is there a chance that the number could grow as he continues to evaluate the needs there?

Mayor: First of all Dr. Palacio asked me for a lot of that money so some of that is a request by Dr. Palacio before Commissioner Hansell came in, some of that is ideas worked through with Commissioner Hansell since he came in. I’ve made very clear to him that I’m going to support his efforts to improve the agencies, so I think for this stage he feels that the key things he needs are there. The door is open is he needs other things. But you have a very fine sense of that agency; we need to keep improving a set of things. We need to do more and better preventative services, we need to keep improving training and casework practice, we need to keep supporting the workforce that does incredibly difficult work and they deserve more support from a variety of professionals to do that work so this budget proposal reflects that.

Question: So that’s what that 37 million is –

Mayor: Yes. We’ll get to the whole breakout but it’s basically training, support for front line workers, preventative services ext.

Question: Mr. Mayor, two questions. The first, it looks to my inexpert eye like we’re planning to spend less next year on DHS than we have spent – than we’re spending this year. And I’m wondering why that is? It looks like –

Mayor: I’m not sure I see that, but Dean will speak to it.

Director Fuleihan: So once again there are adjustments in both years for both the shelter population in the current year of 45 million, then an additional 75 million in 2018, and then there’s some model budgeting and other initiatives that go in DHS. You know, as we – we’ve been doing this, we monitor the census we look at how the plan is going and the various costs and we continue to make adjustments going forward. And that’s all that reflects.

Question: Is this because of the new shelter plan, building new shelters with capital money as opposed to operating money going the other –

Director Fuleihan: Well once again. There are many different moving parts to this. And we’ll go into more details afterwards if you like, but there are many different moving parts and that’s how – that’s why we’ve been making adjustments on a quarterly basis to make sure that we have the appropriate funding level at DHS.

Question:  And then for my second question is on the jail. So a billion dollars for design, there’s only two billion dollars it looks like in the ten year plan, so is it really – is that whole billion for this year for design and then also is some of that the money that had been allocated for the Bloomberg jail and has that been reallocated, is it fair to say that’s off the table?

Director Fuleihan: I’ll let the Mayor answer that, but the money was reallocated to a lump so it is money that had been in the ten year capital plan, you’re correct. There’s about two billion dollars for all of corrections and this was, as the Mayor indicated for design, and obviously depending on the speed, a billion dollars cold certainly also provide construction as well.

Mayor: Yes, look again the notion is to figure out with the Council a pathway, and we have the design money to immediately start working on that and you have to if you start to move a process quickly, you do need to do a certain amount of design up front to facilitate the process. That’s the focus of that money. There is separate money because in a plan that will require ten years, and we said the day we announced, the Speaker and I said and Judge Lippman has said there are scenarios where it could take a little longer so we have to be ready either way you slice it. But we still have to appropriately handle over the course of years, what will be tens of thousands of people going through Rikers and in a course of a decade and all the people that work there, we have to invest in some of the existing buildings as well. So that one billion is about design for the new community based facilities, there’s other money that goes to just continuing to make health and safety and basic improvements in the existing buildings.

Question: So that 600 million dollar jail that the Bloomberg –

Mayor: As I said earlier, everyone focus, I said it earlier. That’s just on hold. That plan is on hold and there’s a new plan we’re working on. 

Okay, what else. Who has not had a shot? Who hasn’t had a shot?

Question:  At the end, like talking about choices, not everything could be funded. Could you give us two, three examples of things that sort of were left on the cutting room floor, you just said we couldn’t – and how close were you, along those lines, how close were you into discussions with the City Council about doing a pilot of the fair fares or is that –

Mayor: You jumped my answer right here.  Look the fair fare proposal is a very good idea that we should not do as a city expenditure, its 200 million dollars. That’s a huge amount. It should be the responsibility of the MTA.  It’s a good thing. But in a world of choices, one we have other things that I think are even more strategically importance, but that’s beside the point. Structurally, it should be the responsibility of the MTA. And I really strongly believe it, so that’s an example. And, look, there’s – every year you can see it in the budget. Every year Council has historically been interested in a number of areas that you know, with perfect resources we could endlessly invest in, we love our cultural institutions; we’ve made major investments over the past few years. At this point there’s are other things we have to focus on more, we love our libraries, at this point there are other things we have to focus on more, so it’s on ongoing process but there will still be an opportunity to take a few more actions by the time of adoption.

Question:  On fair fares, I guess, when you rolled out 3-K the other day you said we’re going to put some money into it, show that we can get it going, but then we need funding from elsewhere to make it a full reality. The City Council’s proposing this pilot program for a small portion of fair fares, wouldn’t that follow the same logic? We could show it works with a small group –

Mayor: No, I’ll tell you why. It’s a very good question but I really want to argue a difference. Education has historically – the funding streams for education have historically been federal and state but the implementation has decidedly local. This is America. You know, school systems are run very, very locally. But the federal and state governments provide a lot of the funding. So, that effort to sustain 3-K is consistent with the formulaically.

But the minute you take a responsibility of the MTA and you start it at the city level, don’t be surprised if people in Albany try and keep it at the city level. Then you’re between a rock and a hard place. We’ve started something, are we going to finish it? If we’re going to finish, we’re going to take away from other future priorities. And now, we’re taking the MTA off the hook once again.

The MTA needs to look at its expenditures and decide its priorities and it needs to be really careful to make sure it is investing enough in New York City which has been a historic concern.

But I’m not going to allow in that or many other areas the state to shift expenses onto New York City.

Okay, who has not gone yet? Yoav?

Question: Mr. Mayor, you sound very frustrated –

Mayor: [Inaudible] go ahead, go ahead.

Question: You sounded very frustrated at Albany on approving [inaudible] bills –

Mayor: Yeah.

Question: What’s it going to take to win over [inaudible] –

Mayor: Pressure. Its – I don’t, look, I think if you walk up to any taxpayer, Democrat or Republican, and you say, how do you feel that you’re having to spend $450 million that you don’t have to spend, do you think that’s right? I think they’d be pretty clear about it.

I think we need to get that consciousness out there and direct it at legislators and the Governor to say this is just a ridiculous waste of taxpayer money. We could be getting so much more done for the same expenditure.

And I think there’s a lot of people in the business community who will fight for this change. I think there’s a lot of people in labor who will fight for this change. We’re going to have to build a coalition.

We’ve tried reason. I hope you’re sitting down. Reason did not work in Albany. We tried it. We’ve tried – we’ve been nice. We’ve been polite. We’ve been reasonable and we’re still seeing a misuse of taxpayer dollars so we’re going to try a harder approach.

Question: Have you talked to other cities like Syracuse and Buffalo, any other cities around the states as a coalition –

Mayor: I think it would be a smart thing. I haven’t had that specific conversation. I know there’s lots of frustrated local leaders in this state. But it’s just, you know, the famous phrase, “What’s good for the goose, is good for the gander.” It’s good enough for the State of New York, why not just apply it to localities so they can get more done and save taxpayer’s money.

You know, sometimes our friends at the State level act they are a separate entity than all the people who live in New York State. We’re 43 percent of the state’s population. Our strength and our growth is good for the whole state. Why wouldn’t the State of New York want to support that? It just makes no sense.

Question: Mr. Mayor, it appears that since the January plan the out-year gaps have grown collectively about $1.2 billion –

Mayor: Over the three years.

Question: Over the three years. Just [inaudible] accounts for that and also why you felt comfortable doing that in an environment where it does appear that the revenue growth has slowed down?

Mayor: In the scheme of things, for three years it’s still a modest change. I feel happy that we’re still talking about revenue growth. So, it’s a slowing of growth but it’s still revenue growth. Again, in most jurisdictions in this country, if you said our problem is our revenue growth is slowing, they would be really happy there was such a thing as revenue growth.

And we have great reserves and we would have time to make adjustments if needed. And we’re deepening our savings plans. So, for all those reasons – and I think Dean has more –

Director Fuleihan: I would just add that the out-year gaps in 1920 and ‘21 are below any historic average. So, if you look at the out-year gaps as a percent of city revenues, they are below the average if you take a look at the past 15 years. In addition, again, we – as we keep pointing out, we are adding $1,250,000,000 in every one of those years when the city traditionally only had $300 million there.

Question: Can you say anything about what accounts for the change –

Dean Fuleihan: The account was just – the reduction in the ‘18 revenue just flowing through. I mean, it was just a – once again, I’m quite sure when you compare this to what other people put out, it was a very cautious forecast.

Mayor: Who has not gone? Who has not gone? Anybody who has not had their first round? Brigid?

Question: Mr. Mayor, you talked about how budgets are political documents and some of the folks who are challenging you –

Mayor: [Inaudible] I did not say that. I said they are statements of values and priorities. They are philosophical documents. I don’t think they’re political documents. I think they’re philosophical documents.

Question: Given that some people would view it through a political lens, some of your challengers will be uptown tonight. Republicans who are running for mayor [inaudible] many have already talked about the increase in spending. If you’re re-elected, do you anticipate the size of the City government to continue to grow at a pace similar to what it’s grown –

Mayor: It’s a year-by-year decision. The decision, for example, to have 2,000 more officers on patrol was to achieve neighborhood policing and to build our Critical Response Command to fight terror. That was a decision based on the times we’re living in. We had to repair the relationship between police and community. We had to do more to fight terror. And we go to a specific dollar.

You’ll notice since then we have not done an expansion of police because we think we are in a good place.

Pre-K was a very specific, strategic expansion. Now, 3-K is as well.

So, I think it’s about the needs of the moment and it’s about the available revenue and it’s about the general situation you’re facing. So, no I don’t think there should be an assumption. I don’t think there should be an assumption at all.

But I’d sure like to hear any of my opponents tell the people of New York City they want to, you know, reduce the police force by 2,000 people or if they want to get rid of pre-K or have fewer traffic enforcement agents or fewer school crossing guards. I’d be happy to have that debate with each and every one.

Question: In terms of the hiring freeze, are there any agencies that are exempt from it?

Mayor: It’s more about the positions than the agencies. As a broad rule – this is something we are developing so I’m not going to state a final vision. We’ll be coming back as I said in a matter of weeks. It is on the assumption that there are administrative and managerial positions that we do not need to fill that are unfilled in a whole host of agencies.

So, we’ll come back with something final but I think in most agencies, it’s fair to say, there’s areas to reduce their overhead. Gloria –

Question: Mr. Mayor, I have two questions. The first one of the $1.1 billion for the jails. I understand part of that would also look into the possibility of building on the island – both on and off the island. Does that mean you’re still open to that idea –

Mayor: No. The phrase – I appreciate the question but I don’t agree with your phrasing. It does not ‘look into the possibility.” We all agreed on a vision. But what I have respectfully challenged the Council on is let’s make it tangible now. If we’re going to do this, let’s go, and decide specific sites and specific districts and start a ULURP process. And you know that goes on for a while. So, no time like the present to start.

So, the money is there for the design of multiple sites that will be based on specific commitments by the Council.

That’s the game plan right now.

Question: And my other question is about funding for seniors. You mentioned the tax credit for homeowners but that’s contingent on Albany passing that legislation. There’s nothing else in the budget for senior services.They still have a really long waiting list. Do you – are you expecting that the Council is going to meet that burden or –

Mayor: It’s something we’ll talk through with the Council. As you know, between the Executive Budget and adoption, we, first of all, look at how our revenue is doing. It’s an ongoing process. We’re always looking for more savings. So, the numbers, literally keep evolving even over those weeks. We’ll make decisions with the Council about some of their priorities. We’ll come to a final decision.

I’m certainly sympathetic that there’s a lot we need to do for seniors. I know the Council is very focused on it. Look, our central focus is on affordable housing for seniors. And I think this tax credit will be passed by Albany. I’m going to keep fighting, as I said, for the mansion tax and I think one day that’s going to be passed too.

The changes we made in the affordable housing plan, we have obviously total control over that and that is now a matter of policy and it’s budgeted for.

But on the senior services which we’ve supported at a higher level in recent years, that’s something we’ll work through with the Council.

Who hasn’t gone for the first time? You haven’t gone.

Question: Mr. Mayor, will you be adding more funding for the summer south employment program?

Mayor: As you know, in the preliminary, we went up to $65,000 and we base-lined it. So, that’s a – you know, we’ve had a doubling of summer youth employment in the three years that we’ve gotten here. Just in three years it’s doubled and it’s all base-lined.

You know the Council wants to go farther. We put out a report today on some of the qualitative issues that need to be addressed. I’m very focused on making sure whatever we do in the future reaches the young people who need the help the most. We’re working that through in the Council.

So, we’ll have more to say at the time of adoption but we are very proud of the fact that we’re at full bore for this summer – that 65,000 is what we believe the capacity is there for for this summer.

Question: And do you have plans to [inaudible] –

Mayor: We don’t have a specific number. We have a process we are going through with the Council. We think there’s definite room for expansion but we have to agree on what those criteria will be and timelines and other things to figure out what that will be.

Question: Mr. Mayor, a question just related to that – so it sounds like – I just want to confirm – you don’t there’s room for expansion this upcoming summer, but in the future. That’s what the [inaudible]?

Mayor: Yeah, we think 65,000 is essentially all the capacity that’s out there. I mean, we’ll keep looking, but we believe at this point 65,000 is the literal capacity available in New York City for this summer, but the discussion will be where we go in future years. 

Question: The other thing is – how much of what’s going into the reserves is from agency savings, versus, you know, pre-paid expenses, [inaudible] revenues, debt refinancing, that kind of stuff. 

Mayor: Dean will – obviously, you’ll get the technical briefing after, but, Dean, can you give any rule of thumb? 

Director Fuleihan: The amount, once again, in the executive budget where we showed you was basically offsetting spending and we showed you where the savings were in the pension reductions. We’ve maintained those reserves at current levels. The pre-payment has increased to $3.7 billion, but why don’t we go over that at the technical briefing. 

Mayor: Okay, first on folks who have not had a first round – everyone’s had a first round. We’ll go around again. 

Question: I think I asked you about this when the preliminary budget came out – but the President released sort of a summary of his tax vision today that does include the piece about eliminating deductibility of State and local taxes, and I know that you’ve expressed concern about that. But also, I think that you said last time when you were talking about it in January that you were hopeful that the President [inaudible]. Can you react to that? What’s your plan for preventing that from going forward in Congress given what it would do to New Yorker’s tax [inaudible]?

Mayor: First, this is a plan that came out just in the last hours – but plan is a really generous word. Here is the extraordinary one-page reform of American taxation. This is a pipe dream. It is clearly a tax plan written by billionaires for billionaires. You know, look at the highlights – cutting corporate tax rates and getting rid of the “death tax.” That’s the estate tax – that’s a tax that overwhelmingly is on the wealthiest Americans. It’s very clever, but this is a shell game. It’s an effort to reduce taxes on the wealthy and corporations and make it sound like a broader tax reform. We aren’t fools. We can see it very clearly and I think it’s going to be met with a massive backlash. I think the immediate problem for the Trump administration is a Republican Congress that is deeply concerned about deficit spending, and this will require an immense amount of deficit spending by almost any definition. Or, it would lead to the decimation of domestic programs that are necessary and very popular with the constituents of all Senators and Congress members. So, if they really want to cut education to the bone, and healthcare to the bone, and affordable housing, and transportation, and infrastructure, then I guess it would the kind of plan that they could go forward with, but that is going to be met with a huge backlash. The other thing that’s sort of the ticking time bomb for the Trump administration is, when you end the deduction for state and local tax deductibility – let’s be clear, that included property tax. For over 100 years, Americans have been able to deduct property tax from their federal taxes – I think it goes back to 1913. I think Americans feel pretty strongly about their property, and they’re smart enough to realize if you can no longer deduct those taxes you’ll never get that deduction back. But that does not stop the federal government from raising your taxes at any given point along the way. So, it is a trap. And no longer having deductibility on state and local taxes will push up the tax rates for a lot of New Yorkers and a lot of people around the country – that’s the overall impact, it will increase taxes unfairly. And, you know, it just creates a very negative domino effect where I think it’s disruptive of the ability of government at all levels to serve people. I also think it’s going to be disruptive to the private sector. I think the private sector right now is based – you know, it’s work is based on a set of assumptions around taxation. If you, for example, no longer allow the deduction of property taxes, that’s going to change the real estate market foundationally. And I think a lot of Republicans and a lot of people in the business community are going to say, wait a minute, there’s a lot of unintended consequences here that are worse than the status quo. So, I think a lot of people are going to fight it and I think it’s going to be a very tough road, and my understanding is that they don’t actually think they’re going to have a bigger proposal until the summer or fall. So, we’ll see how it all adds up. 


Question: Why [inaudible] support expanding veterans property taxes [inaudible] for the school tax credits?

Mayor: It’s another very good idea, but, at this point, of the choices we had to make, we couldn’t reach it in terms of the resources we had. But it’s certainly something we’ll look at going forward.

Question: Mr. Mayor, I’m just wondering what you thought of Governor Cuomo’s response to your ambitious pre-K plan. Did you see?

Mayor: I did not see his response. 

Question: A spokesperson sent us a statement saying, basically, the Governor has made his this a priority for years and he’s already invested $1.5 billion in pre-K and 3-K. “We’ve been running 3-K programs for years [inaudible] the Mayor’s efforts.” [Inaudible] what do you make of it?

Mayor: I don’t get lost in any of that. I mean, that’s just gamesmanship. We should be focused on our kids, not political one-upmanship. I think it’s great when the State of New York invests in pre-K and 3-K. The more the merrier. But in this city, we’ve made pre-K a universal right. And we intend to make 3-K a universal right. It’s good for the people of this city, it’s good for the State of New York, it’s good for the country. So, we’re just going to keep doing that. I’m happy to share credit with anyone, but the point is this is something that is moving because the people of New York City are demanding it. Look, I put it forward as the number-one item on my agenda when I ran for mayor. People voted for it very energetically, and then we said we need your help going to Albany to get this done. The voice of the people was really loud, it got done. It’s going to get done again, but, hey, everyone can claim credit, that’s fine with me. 

Question: Is it true that what the State is doing is actually 3-K? Or is it just, you know –

Mayor: I’m not here to judge the State of New York’s programs. I welcome any investment the State makes in early childhood education not just for the kids in New York City, but for the kids in New York State. It’s good for all of us. 

Question: [Inaudible] design money that covers your environmental impact statements, your [inaudible] schematics. What is everything that falls under that? And does that include your construction and labor costs? Your materials and all the other things that go –

Mayor: No, design is just design – that much I can tell you as a layman. Design is literally to figure out the plan for the work, not the actual cost of doing the work. 

Question: [Inaudible] price tag, you know, the [inaudible] announced the plan to close Rikers was $10.65 billion, but in fact –

Mayor: No, that was – guys, you’re smart people, do your research – that was Judge Lippman’s vision, and I’ve said 100 times I don’t agree with everything in his report. I appreciate his report, there’s some good things in his report – I don’t accept his price tag and he doesn’t create the budget for New York City. We’re only talking about the initial design money. 

Question: The other thing is, does front loading that enable the possibility of actually accelerating the timeline, because [inaudible] 10 years is too long, we can actually do that in less time. Does that enable the city to perhaps –

Mayor: No, because it’s – as far as I can tell, no is the honest answer. And, by the way, if you would say simplistically that Judge Lippman and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito wanted to push the spectrum as hard as possible, and I’m saying it simplistically because, you know, I think they took into account every real, tangible, practical issue. I think they were very, very responsible. But if you just said they are just – all they want to do is get to the fastest plan they possibly could – they said in the cool light of day, 10 years is the earliest you could do it. We think it’s viable, but we also think it could take longer. That’s because you have to get the population down and getting the population down requires constant reduction in crime and the bail reform and so many other elements. And building things in New York City does take time. So, part of why I’m anxious to start immediately is to build out all that capacity – that’s many years. So, no, I don’t think we can go faster. If we found a way, we would love to, but I think it would be unfair to the people of New York City to project that we can go faster than the plan we’ve put forward. 

Question: The second question – just going back to budget [inaudible] if the federal government [inaudible] refuse to re-fund New York City for the cost of protecting Trump Tower, what philosophical argument do you [inaudible] the City of New York that we should continue to pay for that extra security around the building? 

Mayor: Look, two wrongs don’t make a right is my first philosophical argument. We protect people, that’s what we do. That’s what the NYPD does. But it’s not fair to asks us to pay for what is a federal expense and that’s been broadly recognized with a lot of finance provided for counterterrorism, reimbursements for UN related security, ext. So if there were ever an effort to not fund us it would be inconstant with all previous history in both Democratic and Republican administrations. And we keep fighting to get the money we deserve, but we still have an obligation to protect people and I don’t have a better answer than that.

Did you have something? Okay you can formulate.

Question: If I’m not mistaken the one sort of state budget related rally that you attended was for the mansion tax and millionaires tax –

Mayor: The expansion of the million’s tax.

Question: – the expansion of the millionaire’s tax. You seem today, very upset that design bill didn’t come through. What did you do to try to get it done and why didn’t we see any sort of public display of –

Mayor: Because we thought – look we thought, you know in any strategic situation you try to decide what works best. And we thought behind the scenes approach would work because we thought we saw some opening and some progress. And I think compared to last year for example, there was more movement, but it wasn’t enough and so I think we have to be, you know, louder and get a bigger coalition together. We also had other important things we were working on, so it’s coming up on the priority scale because the previous efforts aren’t’ getting done what we need and because it’s a lot of money.

Question:  You seem to be working closer to the IDCM, a couple of efforts and you mentioned Senator Savino and you pointed out that she was a member of the IDC today –

Mayor: Yes.

Question:  – can you explain sir, your relationship with the IDC and if that, you know, if you’re sort of just leaving politics totally to the side and trying to work with them on what they want to work with you on?

Mayor: Look I think that you know, maturity is the ability to keep two contradictory thought in mind at one time. From a governance perspective, they play a crucial role in Albany and I’m going to work with them to get things done for the people of New York City and I want to think the IDC when they support our agenda. They were great on pre-K, initial response on 3-K has been great; really appreciate Senator Savino leading the way on this tax credit for seniors. But I’ve said to everyone involved I think there should be a Democratic majority, a Democratic leadership of the State Senate and I would love to see everyone come back together. I said, maturity is two contradictory ideas, I actually don’t even think they’re contradictory, I think in fact we are where we are, I wish it never go this way. But we are where we are, but I think there is a real pathway to get everyone back into a majority and I think the age of Donald Trump is probably encouraging that reality.

Question:  How do you define an out-of-towner for the purposes of the MET? [Inaudible]

Mayor: I don’t know. That’s a bigger discussion. I just want to make sure that five borough residents don’t have that obligation.

Question:  [inaudible] public funding for the MET if they do start charging?

Mayor: I answered that before. That’s not the intention.


Question:  Speaking of Gov. Cuomo, if Gov. Cuomo offered some sort of help to the city for the process of closing Rikers Island [inaudible] purchase of a long term lease of Rikers for a LaGuardia runway or a crew [inaudible]  planned in the city or outside of the city would you be open to, you know –

Mayor: First of all, all the dealings with the State of New York, trust but verify. So I would listen to any idea always, but I would want to make sure it was real and tangible and verifiable. But our central focus right now is on the process of getting off Rikers which is a decade so the what you do with the land next, that’s important, we’ll attend to it but that’s not our first focus right now. We’ve got to figure out everything it’ll take to keep this target on track. To get this done in ten years. The disposition of the land is literally a secondary issue.

Question:  Referring to was for example, if the State signed a long term lease for Rikers to build a runway you ‘d get money. You could use that money, you could sink that money into building borough jails. The other way that the State could help before that would be through land swaps. So the State owns some land within the city, right, [inaudible] – was, for example, if the State signed a long-term lease for Rikers to build a runway, you’d get money. You could use that money. You could sink that money into build borough jails. The other way that the State could help before that would be the land swaps. So, the state owns some land within the city, right? [Inaudible] –

Mayor: Yeah, that’s – I think you’re – I appreciate the question but I’m just going to cut you off on purpose here. The notion – and again I understand where the Lippman Commission was coming from in terms of community-based facilities. The Arthur Kill certainly doesn’t resemble that definition because of location among other things. Right now, I appreciate the questions but I just want to say it’s not strategically in the foreground. We have a vision that we need to get on track quickly.

We will certainly be very interested in the long-term disposition. And if there’s a real conversation to have with the State on something that help us in that process, we’re going to have it. There’s no question about that.

A lot of times with the State, ideas come and go, and we don’t get too enamored of anything unless we see that it’s real and consistent. But we don’t need that State involvement to get started. So, our central focus is on getting started.

Land swaps don’t necessarily affect this I think in terms of some of the places the Council is looking at in terms of jail capacity. It’s City owned land not State owned land.

Question: Mr. Mayor, the ten-year capital plan grew by about six million dollars since January. Just wondering – I know, you know, the deeper affordability is a big chunk of that –

Mayor: Yes.

Question: Just wondering what some of the other big ticket items are but also how did so much new need come up in just the last four months?

Mayor: Now, that’s – first of all, you’re exactly right, the deeper affordability is the biggest. It was at $1.9 billion, so that’s about a third right there. We are looking at an infrastructure crisis. It’s quite clear. I’m sure you’d agree with me, we have no clue what’s going to happen with President Trump’s vision on infrastructure.

In the meantime we have crying needs right now and a lot of them are the invisible needs. Our water supply, maintaining bridges, the kinds of things people don’t talk about everyday but are very, very important.

So, a host of things we decided were crucial and needed to be included. We believe this is a smart plan and an affordable plan in every sense. But it is – I think the essence of the answer, and I’ve said this to the Council members earlier, I think the world has shifted towards capital funding. I told the Council members, when I was in the Council – 2002, 2009 – I think we focused a lot more on expense funding and I think it was some of the issues at the time that were most prevalent and some of the needs that had not been met, and I’m proud to say we’ve done a lot to address.

But now, I think the infrastructure problem is literally magnifying by the year for obvious reasons. You know, look at that NYCHA investment. Had there been anything like the previous federal investment, we wouldn’t have to do that. But that spigot has been turned off so consistently that now we see, you know, immediate health and safety issues that have to be addressed. That’s a big piece of it, you know, right there that we’ve had to more in that direction. So I think the simplest answer is – growing infrastructure needs that are going unmet that can’t be ignored.

Let’s see if there’s a few more then we should shut down. Yes?

Question: To follow up in Laura’s question, with regard to the piece of the Trump executive order that has been in place since January 25th that vastly expanded deportation priorities [inaudible] serious criminals to basically anyone undocumented [inaudible] and legal residents who had a criminal record. Have you seen an impact from that on the city?

Mayor: As I said, tremendous fear has been created and that is affecting people’s quality of life in many ways and starting to affect I think some decision making about how to go about living life and whether to engage local government and services. But, no, I think big picture much more fear has been created than actual negative impact. And I say, thank God for that. I am sad the fear has been created but that God the actual impact has not been as bad as potentially assumed. So, it’s early. I think we have to be quite clear. I know we live in an instant gratification culture but it is only 100 days.

But no, I think I’ve been very clear – there were deportations under the previous administration at a much higher rate than in previous history. This is not a totally new thing. I think the number product has been fear, sadly.

Okay, everyone good? Thanks, everyone.

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