No New Taxes In The 2011 Balanced, On-Time Budget
Creating a budget – for a household, a business, or a city of 8.4 million people – is always about making tough choices. Last week, our Administration reached an agreement with the City Council on New York City’s budget for the next 12 months. And because we faced up to our responsibilities, and to hard financial realities, we came up with an on-time, balanced budget that doesn’t raise taxes, that keeps the city’s controllable expenses below the rate of inflation, and that also preserves core city services.
Here’s how and why. Three years ago — well before the national recession began, but when storm clouds were building on the economic horizon — we took heed, and started directing City agencies to tighten their belts. Since then, we’ve gone through eight separate rounds of these budget actions. The cumulative effect: roughly $4 billion in savings in our budget for the coming fiscal year. Those savings – the result of firm and steady guidance of New York through the deep national recession – have allowed us to avoid the kind of disastrous cuts to essential services New Yorkers experienced during the 1970s fiscal crisis. It’s why, for example, that as part of finalizing our new budget we were able to restore nearly 900 police officer positions that earlier this year we’d anticipated losing through attrition. And that means we’ll be adding a Police Academy class we’d once thought we’d have to cancel.
Now, make no mistake about it: There are cuts in the budget, and we’re all going to notice the effects. Given the circumstances, it could hardly be otherwise. Because while our economy is getting stronger, we’re still a long way from full recovery. And even though the State still hasn’t adopted its budget, it may well return onepoint three billion fewer of our tax dollars to the city this fiscal year. That will mean less money for our schools and other services – and no other city in the state is taking that kind of hit.
So the plain truth is that we just don’t have enough money to do all the things we’ve done before, or all the things we’d like to do now. And that’s reflected in the roughly $1 billion in budget actions City agencies are taking in the coming fiscal year. But while some of the cuts we’re making may sting, they won’t be destructive. And we’ll also be taking steps — such as beginning to make more street lights more energy efficient — that actually improve our quality of life while also saving taxpayers money.
The hard work of crafting this budget wouldn’t have been possible without close cooperation with the legislative branch of city government, the City Council. Throughout our budget talks, Council Speaker Christine Quinn and her colleagues showed effective and fiscally responsible leadership. As a result, together we’ve forged a realistic budget that will keep taking our city forward. And together, we’re continuing to show that New York City has a government that works.