New York City officials unveil deal for on-time budget
NEW YORK, June 23
NEW YORK, June 23 (Reuters) - New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced a budget deal on Sunday, unveiling a fiscal plan that Bloomberg, a three-term mayor in his last year in office, will pass on to his successor.
Bloomberg stood in the City Hall rotunda alongside Quinn, who is a leading candidate in the Democratic mayoral primary in two months, though recent polls suggest her once-formidable lead has been shrinking.
The agreement, which comes eight months after Superstorm Sandy devastated parts of the city's coastal areas, includes $250 million to help prepare for the next major storm and $58 million for public housing to make up for a reduction in federal funds.
The budget largely mirrors last year's financial plan, Bloomberg said.
The deal marks the eighth consecutive on-time budget approved by the city and does not include tax increases. The city will face a budget gap of about $2 billion in fiscal 2015, Bloomberg said.
Bloomberg noted two ways the city's fiscal situation has improved since May, when he presented his executive budget proposal: The sale of 2,000 new taxi medallions will raise $300 million for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1, and, by taking advantage of low interest rates, the city will be able to save about $200 million in debt service payments.
Quinn said the city has a better fiscal outlook than any time since the 2008 financial crisis and said the budget would leave the city on "solid financial footing" for the next administration.
She said the budget allows the city's public libraries to maintain their hours of operation, restores cuts to child care and after-school services, and ensures that senior and community centers in public housing facilities stay open.
"This budget process should serve as an example to our colleagues in government throughout the country, that if you focus on delivering and check the grandstanding at the door, you can accomplish a great deal - and that's what this is all about," said Quinn.
Asked to reflect on his time in office, Bloomberg, who took office months after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, declined.
"I never should be measuring myself. I'll leave that to historians," he told reporters.
A Quinnipiac University poll released last month found that Quinn had the backing of 25 percent of Democratic voters, followed by former U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner, who had 15 percent. Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and former Comptroller William Thompson both followed with 10 percent, while John Liu, the city's current comptroller, had 6 percent.
In a Quinnipiac poll from February, Quinn had the support of 37 percent of Democratic voters.