From The Mayor’s Desk...
From The Mayor’s Desk...
Turning The Corner On New York City’s Fiscal Crisis
I thought I’d take the time to share some hopeful news about our City with you. As you all know, the past two years have not been an easy time for New York City. Because of the terrorist attack of September 11th, and a slumping national economy, we’ve been forced to make many difficult decisions But during the worst financial crisis in our history, New Yorkers had the resiliency to make the sacrifices that were necessary to balance our budget. And because we worked together to solve our problems, this City has turned the corner on its fiscal difficulties.
Bottom line: New York’s economy is showing signs of recovery. The Federal Reserve says New York’s eco-nomy is poised for growth, and ex-perts predict that Wall Street profits will soon start climbing. Home prices have increased by more than 13% in the last 18 months. Housing permits are up by 10% in the last year and a half. Applications are up at both our private and public colleges and universities. Employment in City restau-rants and bars is growing compared to last year. And the Republican Na-tional Convention is coming to town next summer and bringing 50,000 visitors with it.
Most importantly, jobs are coming back to the City. In fact, Fortune 500 companies like Pfizer, American Express and Goldman Sachs are ex-panding their New York operations. Wachovia, the largest bank on the East Coast, just made a commitment to open a dozen branches here in the next two years, which will translate into more than 300 new jobs. And it’s not just the big guys, our City’s smaller employers - like Princess Knitwear in the Bronx - are also hiring.
While future economic trends are always difficult to predict, the discipline we showed last year, and the tough decisions we made, allow for a much brighter budget picture go-ing forward. We certainly have a strong foundation to build on. In the midst of the fiscal crisis, we were able to maintain New York’s quality of life services by learning to do more with less. Crime is down nearly 7% so far this year. Welfare rolls are down by more than 41,000 cases. Our streets are as clean as they have been in recent years. Our schools have been reorganized and are on the brink of major improvement. The largest housing initiative in 15 years is underway, which will create 65,000 units in all five boroughs.
This past Thursday, I testified be-fore the New York State Financial Control Board, the agency that en-sures that New York City meets its legally mandated obligation to balance its budget. I told them that while New Yorkers understand that there are still challenges ahead, we will stick together and proceed with fortitude, diligence and compassion to build upon what we have already achieved. Brighter economic days are just around the corner, and hopefully, we will soon be able to start work on reducing people’s tax burden. Today, we can safely look forward to a much brighter future knowing that we New Yorkers - as always - have confronted our challenges and prevailed.