Transcript: Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Mark-Viverito, City Council Announce Early Agreement on Balanced, On-Time Budget

June 20, 2014

Mayor Bill de Blasio: We know it’s late so we’re going to go through this quickly, and then we welcome questions on this topic after the Speaker and I and the Finance Chair have spoken. Look, I’m going to break this down very simply: a budget – a budget is a statement of values. A budget affects people’s lives at the grassroots every single day. We are very, very proud of this budget that will have an extraordinary impact on all 8.4 million New Yorkers.

It signals a new direction for New York City, consolidates a number of the changes that we’ve started to make with our partners in the City Council. And we know that this is going to be a moment of major progress for our city. This budget signals the beginning of many other steps we will take to help the people of this city. It’s also one of the earliest budget agreements in recent history, very very proud of that.


That is because of the extraordinary cooperation that existed throughout this process between the City Council and the mayoralty. I’m going to talk about Speaker Mark-Viverito, but I want to say from the outset that she set a tone and an approach that was about cooperation, inclusion, dialogue. Her staff did an extraordinary job. I want to thank of course, on our side – let’s thank them, yes.


I want to thank all of the councilmembers who have been a part of this process, who have worked very hard. I used to be one, I can attest to that. They have worked very hard throughout this process – again, in the spirit of extraordinary cooperation, and incredible concern for making things right for their communities. I want to thank them – why don’t you give yourselves a round of applause.


The staff of the mayoralty, particularly our colleagues at Office of Management and Budget have worked – literally overtime – for weeks and weeks, months and months, have done an extraordinary job. It would not have been possible to get to this absolutely positive and collegial outcome if it weren’t for our Budget Director Dean Fuleihan. I want to thank him for all he has done.


Again, I was a councilmember for eight years. I remember many years where the process was filled with conflict, where it was filled with a lot of misdirection, where the so-called ‘budget dance’ ran wild, where people struggled just to get the most basic things for their communities. We said we weren’t going to do any of that. We knew we had a strong, smart partner in Speaker Mark-Viverito. We knew we had councilmembers ready to roll up their sleeves with the administration and get to work, and that’s what happened. We did not play the game of cutting resources from non-profits that were serving communities. We just wouldn’t do that. From the beginning we said, let people who are doing good work continue to do that good work. We’re not going to threaten firehouses. We’re not going to tell people that fundamental services have to be fought for for months and then maybe they get them, maybe they don’t. We created order and consistency and respect in this process. It was a mutual decision, it was played out mutually. I’m very proud of what everyone in this process has done. Speaker Mark-Viverito has showed in very clear terms that she does what she says and says what she does – she means it. She means it. She’s serious, she’s focused, she’s respectful, she’s consistent. And that had made a huge difference, that’s allowed us to have a better process.


I also know, having been a member of the Finance Committee, I know how much work goes into it from the Finance committee. And I want to thank the extraordinary Julissa Ferreras for her leadership.


We were determined from the beginning to create a progressive budget, but we also needed a budget that was fiscally responsible. That has animated this whole process. Many skeptics suggested those two ideas could not live in harmony, we’ve proven with this budget they can. We’ve proven that you can be straightforward to the people of this city about the challenges we face and the ways we seek to solve them – what we can do and what we can’t do – but what we make sure will happen for the people has been clearly laid out here. You’ll hear about substantial investments we’re making in education, in housing, in protections for the most vulnerable New Yorkers. All of it done within a fiscally responsible rubric. Three – excuse me, two weeks ago, all three major rating agencies – bond rating agencies – reaffirmed the city’s strong stable ratings. That’s something we’re very proud of.


We had higher demand than ever in our recent bond sale, showing the confidence of the market in New York City. We’ve seen a lot working in this budget process, but we also knew we had to respond to the challenges our people are facing. I’ve talked for a long time about the ‘Tale of Two Cities’, I’ve talked for a long time about the inequality crisis and the affordability crisis. The Council believes exactly as we did, that we had to address them. And so, in this budget, full-day pre-K for every child in this city over the next two years.


Afterschool programs for every middle school child in this city in the next two years.


We doubled the capacity of our summer youth enrichment programs.


For all middle school students in New York City, school lunches will be free starting this year.


After decades of neglect of public housing because of this City Council, because of this Speaker, we are investing once again in NYCHA. We’re investing in public housing. Money for additional policing, money for youth programs, money for things that will uplift public housing tenants who have been waiting for a long time. We are going to be improving public safety with an agreement with the council to do something absolutely extraordinary—something that’s been talked about for years and years—to make real progress on civilianization at the NYPD, to take jobs that can be handled by civilians that are currently handled by uniformed police officers, to put civilians in those jobs and get those cops out to the streets where they can help protect people. We’re starting with 200 officers this year in combination with very substantial changes we’re making in our policing deployments. The impact will be almost 600 officers patrolling some of the areas that need it the most, particularly in public housing, and we’re very proud of that fact. Before I turn the podium to Speaker Mark-Viverito and Chair Ferreras, just a moment, cause we’d like to do this every time, in español por favor.

Hoy, el consejo de la ciudad y mi oficina están anunciando un acuerdo de presupuesto histórico. El presupuesto incluye inversiones significativas en educación, vivenda asequible, vivienda pública, y seguridad pública. La versión final de ese presupuesto fue reconocido—reconocida—por expertos por su audacia y responsabilidad fiscal. With that, a tremendous partner and someone who made this extraordinary budget possible with her leadership, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito: Thank you. Alright, alright. I want to thank all my colleagues who are here, we have a vast majority of the council, probably it’s better to read off the names that aren’t here, as opposed to trying to read the names that are here, but I want to thank everyone, all the colleagues that stayed to be part of this. I really want to thank you, Mayor de Blasio. Today, we are ushering in a new era of budget negotiations. I also want to thank you, Dean Fuleihan, and your entire administration, for working with the council on a budget we can all be proud of. I want to thank all of the finance staff at the city council…

[Crowd cheering: finance staff! Finance staff! Finance staff!]

Let’s name some names. I want to thank Jeff Rodus, Latonia McKinney, and Ramon Martinez, and I obviously want to thank our council finance chair, Julissa Ferreras, members of the budget negotiating team, the heads of the borough delegations, all the hardworking councilmembers who helped and worked tirelessly to help make today happen. This is clearly a good day for New York City. This budget is balanced, and because of the council’s tireless advocacy, does a lot of good for New Yorkers. It is responsible, it is progressive, and it is collaborative. The budget outlined today doesn’t just reflect the priorities of these 51 councilmembers—it reflects the needs of 8.4 million people living in all five boroughs. By working together, we created a process in which every member was heard, and every member had input. Every community in New York City had a seat at the table, and every community stands to benefit. This was a budget process that New Yorkers can be proud of. It was a process that was substantive, thorough, and sparked real debate about real issues that affect every day New Yorkers. This budget reflects New York’s values: we’re a city that takes care of our own, seeks to lift people up, and strives to give more opportunities. This budget addresses public safety, employment opportunities, education, health, and infrastructure in real and meaningful ways. The Council’s work was exhaustive, and the results show. NYPD will very soon have 200 more cops on the beat. These cops will help bolster precinct levels all over the city, and will give NYPD more of the tools they need to succeed. The NYPD will have 200 more civilian staff to make sure cops are available to do the police work they were hired to do.

This budget will also give thousands of children access to free lunch through an important pilot program. This pilot program will help keep our school children fed, allowing them to focus on learning and not where their next meal will come from. Both of these initiatives are wins for New Yorkers, and we’re proud to have championed them.


In addition, every neighborhood will benefit from this budget, with over $68.7 million for vital services and programs. Additionally our budget provides over $80 million in support for programs highlighted in the Council’s budget response, such as our gun violence initiative that will help neighborhoods across the city. Our budget also includes $15 million for 14 new Council initiatives, $36 million in enhancements, and $51 million to maintain existing Council programs. This is a budget that will help all New Yorkers, including keeping NYCHA community and senior centers open across the city –


Funding 11,700 summer jobs for our youth –


­– funding low-income child care vouchers ­–


­– expanding the City Council’s anti-gun violence initiatives, providing funding for the City Council merit-based scholarship program for CUNY students –


– investing in New York City’s parks by increasing funding for parks maintenance –


And lastly the Council has set aside $15 million for innovative initiatives which reflect the Council’s diversity.

I really want to thank the mayor, because as I said in the beginning, but I think that needs to really be demonstrated, he really – having not only not having come from the Council –but he really opened himself up, opened his administration up, to truly engage in a collaborative manner. He has the concerns that we had, and the concerns that we’re being represented by all of us on behalf of our constituents. So this is a new and better course for how the budget should be proposed, examined and adopted. It was inclusive, substantive and thorough, and I am proud of our work. And so again, I believe that this is a true win for all New Yorkers.

I’m going to say a few words in Spanish, and then I will pass it on to the chair of the finance committee, Julissa Ferreras.

Este presupuesto es balanceado, y se logró a tiempo porque nuestro Consejo Municipal trabaja arduamente para los neoyorquinos. Este fue un proceso presupuestario del cual todos los neoyorquinos deberían estar orgullosos. Un proceso con substancia, detallado, y que – un dialogo real acerca de las problemas que afectan a los neoyorquinos. Este presupuesto incluye seguridad pública, oportunidades de empleo, educación, salud, infraestructura de una manera significativa. Luego de la presentación del presupuesto ejecutivo, el consejo continúa abogando por sus prioridades principales y finalizo un presupuesto que refleja el arduo trabajo del consejo. Este consejo está comprometido a luchar con nuestros neoyorquinos, y este presupuesto demuestra estos logros. Adicionalmente el consejo ha podido invertir en iniciativas claves para ayudar a neoyorquinos de todos los condados. Y fue un proceso colaborativo, le queremos dar las gracias al alcalde y a todos los miembros de su administración. Es un día de gran orgullo para todos nosotros, y vamos a trabajar y seguir trabajando a favor de todos neoyorquinos.      

So with that, I want to thank everyone, and have Julissa Ferraras, chair of our finance committee, say a few words.


Councilwoman Julissa Ferraras: Thank you, thank you Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and thank you for leading the City Council through what has been a long, thorough, and ultimately very rewarding budget process. You have been a true partner in making sure that every member of this body and every New Yorker in this city have a seat at the table. And I thank you, Mayor de Blasio, for listening to our priorities and making sure that this budget is one we can all finally be proud of.

The budget we are announcing today is the product of months of substantive dialogue and thorough debate. As Chair of the Committee on Finance, I had the privilege of chairing countless hearings, over a hundred hours, where we learned how we could make our city a better place for New Yorkers who call New York home. We heard from members of the public who shared what they want to see in their neighborhoods and their communities. And as you’ll see in this budget, from 200 more cops on the beat to starting an exciting new pilot program that will pave the way for universal school lunch in our city, we heard you loud and clear. And this is just another example, that when the community comes to City Hall, we are here to listen.


I want to thank the budget negotiating team, the heads of the borough delegations, all my fellow council members, finance staff division, especially Latonia Mckinney –


- Jeff [inaudible], Ramon Martinez, and on the mayor’s side Dean Fuleihan, Jon Paul Lupo, Emma Wolfe, and my amazing council staff. I am really, really, humbled and appreciative. You all helped making this agreement possible, and I look forward to seeing a better city because of the work we’ve done together today, because that is what today is all about.


And I will be very brief, and I think this is probably historic also, that all three people that came to the mic will speak in Spanish.

So gracias a la portavoz, Melissa Mark-Viverito por lidiar con el Consejo Municipal durante lo que ha sido un proceso presupuestario largo, completo, y en última instancia, muy gratificante. Usted ha sido una verdadera aliada en asegurar que todos miembros de este cuerpo y todos los neoyorquinos de nuestra ciudad tengan una voz en este proceso. Gracias también al Alcalde de Blasio por escuchar nuestras prioridades y asegurar de que este presupuesto sea uno de cual todos por fin podamos estar orgullosos. Todos ustedes, todos – todos ayudaron en esta acuerdo. Siéntanse orgullosos. Espero que con – espero con ansia ver una ciudad debido al trabajo que hemos hecho juntos, porque de eso se trata todo este proceso. Gracias.

Mayor: Muchas gracias. All right, again, on topic only tonight. Fire away.

Question: Can you tell us how much you included in restoration for libraries, and what that means for six day service – I think they asked for $65 million in restoration?

Mayor: We are not in a – there are some additions to libraries, but not six-day service across the board.

Question: Do you know the amount that they were restored by?

Mayor: We'll get you the details on that.

Question: The 1,000 police officers that the City Council wanted, can you get from a response from both of you, Mr. Mayor, and the speaker, about these 200 new positions. I mean, I know that you're saying that 200 cops will be back on the street, but it's clearly, what could be perceived as a [inaudible] for the City Council here.

Mayor: Look, I think that we feel that this is just plain progress. Commissioner Bratton already made some very substantial changes in his approach to deploying officers. About 300 more officers had been deployed over the last month in areas of particular need, particularly in public housing. The next graduating class is going to come out in July. Over 100 of those officers will be applied to those same type of areas, and 200 more – because of the urging of the Council – has been included in this budget, and the very historic action on civilianization – something, again, that's been talked about, talked about, talked about, for years and years and years – it's finally happening because of the leadership of the council. So I think a lot has been done. It's going to have a very profound impact on the ground. And I further note, a very substantial increase in programs to help residents of public housing that will also enhance security more – more patrols, more tenant patrols, a lot more youth programs, including late night, including weekend youth programs, that are going to make a huge difference, and the NYPD will the first to say what an important piece of the strategy that is for them as well. Let me let the speaker come up.

Speaker Mark-Viverito: This is an incredible victory, and we should all be proud, because we're talking about 200 additional officers, who were doing clerical duties, weren't on patrol, weren't on the beat, weren't on local neighborhoods providing any sort of service on the ground in precincts. So this is an incredible victory, and turning around on administration, in terms of NYPD, of really getting civilianization taken care of, and starting on a path to make those changes. I really want to thank the leadership of the mayor, who understood it and who really took that leap of faith with us. So, it is a true victory for all of our communities, who are going to see these additional personnel in our local precincts.

Question: It seems there's more spending in this budget, do you know the [inaudible] difference, like a dollar amount? And where did you get the money?

Mayor: The final total – although, again, I want to emphasize – adoption is next week. The council's working on that schedule, adoption is next week. And in the days leading up to adoption, there will be some fine-tuning by definition. But the total will be approximately $75 billion – very, very close to $75 billion. That is taking the base we have in the executive budget. The biggest change is a simultaneous in revenue of about a billion dollars, and a simultaneous increase in expense of about a billion dollars, both related to the labor contract. Remember, there were revenue pieces that were drawn out of the labor contract that were brand new revenue for the city that we weren't able to put into the executive until now. So, that plus additional resources with the City Council, and additional programmatic resources from the administration, the grand total brings you to $75 billion – again, fine-tuning in the next few days.

Question: What is the cost of that first round of the 200 cops, how much is it going to cost to pay them, and why couldn't you afford to do the full thousand?

Mayor: Why couldn't we…?

Question: Why couldn't you afford to do the full –

Mayor: Look, I think the – Dean, you're supposed to be standing with us on questions like that, remember? Don't get distracted, Dean. Not in the eleventh hour, here. [Laughter] So you can do the – I think I know the combined figure on the 200, but you'll check me on that. Let me first do the bigger question. We said, throughout this process, it'd be a budget that was responsible, that was progressive, that was honest. We wanted to make sure we were doing everything necessary to protect the public. We also knew that a lot of very important changes were already being made in our approach to policing that are going to have a profound impact. So, what we worked on together, was figuring out the number that would get the job done. And also making the reform on civilianization that was long overdue. So, in the end, the council proposed an idea – it's because the council advocated so strongly, it's because of the speaker's leadership – that we looked at all the pieces we could do and reworked them to find new opportunities – and again, this civilianization piece, particularly important – but this is the number that will get the job done, that's why we decided it. Do you want to add on the exact –

Unknown: It’s a little over $6 million for the first year of the civilianization. 

Question: $6 million for 200 cops?

Unknown: For the civilian population that’s coming on that will be trained.

Mayor: [inaudible]

Unknown: The police are already there.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: The vouchers – childcare vouchers – was $10 million for all childcare vouchers. So they can get you the break out.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: No, that’s separate. $10 million – go ahead – it’s $10 million you did in childcare vouchers, that you proposed to us.

Speaker Mark-Viverito: Right. And about $17 – well at least the summer OST, we put in about $17 million.

Mayor: Right. So there’s several different pieces. And we had an ongoing discussion – we included in the budget $10 million for additional childcare vouchers separate from what we’re already doing on the afterschool initiative.

Question: Speaker, I know you were [inaudible] for free lunches for all students [inaudible]. [inaudible] just going to be middle schoolers. [inaudible]?

Speaker Mark-Viverito: Well that just being middle school piece that you talk about is going to help feed many, many more children that are currently not being fed right now.

Mayor: Several hundred [inaudible].

Speaker Mark-Viverito: Right. So that is significant impact. And in having conversations everything is about a negotiation. We started at a point and we believe that, working with the administration and the chancellor, there is a true commitment to getting to 100 percent of our children, and we will ramp up to that slowly. We’re going to do this pilot on the middle schools. The chancellor has a very thorough comprehensive vision about how she wants to approach it, but we want to give her a chance to implement it. And we believe that we will see true success, and that we’re going to be able to then take it to the next level in the upcoming years.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor:  Hold on. Right here, and then we’ll go over there. Go ahead.

Question: Member items? I’m just curious to know if they made it into the budget. [inaudible]

Mayor: Yeah. It’s the same number as last year, and this is a case – I think the term they use in diplomacy is détente – we have a philosophical disagreement, but we have a lot of respect for each other, and I have a lot of respect for the council as a whole, and this was obviously a major priority for the council. That being said, I feel strongly that this speaker and this council have really greatly reformed the member item process. It is much more transparent now. It is much more inclusive. It is much more cognizant of the actual needs of each district. There’s much more equity in it. And there’s a greater commitment to tools like community participatory budgeting, which democratize the process. So this is a very different reality.


Question: The biggest addition in here seems to be – and correct me if I’m wrong – the spending on Rikers. If you could just sort of speak to, you know –

Mayor: Well, it’s something we’ve – look, yes. We’ve talked to the council about this over the last few weeks. Chair Ferreras is right that the budget hearings were actual examinations of the issues. And I think the budget hearing on corrections was a great example of an honest dialogue. And I give Commissioner Ponte a lot of credit for not pulling any punches and laying out exactly what the challenges are – challenges we received from the past that we have to deal with. And so the commitment here is to a lot more training for corrections officers who have to deal with mental health challenges, a lot more clinical support in the correctional facilities for inmates who have those challenges, facilities – much more spending on facilities that can allow mental health patients to be treated or inmates who have mental health issues to be treated separately from the general population. The – I think we’ve talked about this before, I’ll just put a point on in it – that there’s a problem in this city, this state, this country that the default manner in which we handle mental health problems is our prison system and our jail system. And that has to end.

Speaker Mark-Viverito: Yes.


Mayor: And as a step – as a step in this direction, again with the council’s strong urging, we’re going to start to address the mental health challenges at Rikers, at all the facilities on Rikers, directly, and then go from there. As you know, we have a task force that’s going to try and build upon that.

Question: There was an issue with regards to [inaudible] jeopardizing federal funding –

Mayor: Yes.

Question: How has that issue been addressed? Have you talked to the feds? And [inaudible] satisfied with [inaudible] federal funding?

Mayor: I am. I am. It took – it took quite a while to confirm. It was a very sensitive legal matter that we had to get right, but we came to conclusion after a lot of dialogue, a lot of research, that we could do this properly without jeopardizing the federal funding. And we thought it was right – and we certainly support the council’s vision to start with a really substantial step, but also one that would allow the chancellor to fine tune the approach. But we’re convinced federal funding is safe.

Question: Mr. Mayor, the press release itemizes about $100 million in new expenses for programs and services since the executive budget. Did you make any cuts to programs and services since that budget?Mayor: There are certainly changes that were made. We’ve found areas to save money. We’ve found some natural savings. We’ve found some savings by choice. And that allowed us to have a little more freedom on some of the other priorities we had, but we’ll go over those details with you.

Question: [inaudible] at the 200 number of cops? [inaudible]?

Mayor: I’ll start and the speaker will give her evaluation. Look, again, we had a series of discussion, including discussions with Commissioner Bratton. And we looked at all the different things that were already underway, the things that were upcoming already, and then talked about what else would actually make a profound difference. And again, the speaker and the council were very strong in their advocacy for doing whatever it would take and making major progress on civilianization. So as a result of a series of conversations, we found that this was the right combination that would get the job done. Okay. Anything else? Thank you guys. And now we’re going to shake hands again!


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