Mayor de Blasio unveiled a $77.7 billion budget the other day and the sky did not fall, just as it did not fall a year ago, when the great progressive hope announced his first budget.
There are no new taxes in the new budget, but the mayor found additional funds for programs to help renters and to improve ambulance response time in poorly served neighborhoods.
Mr. de Blasio may not have agreed with his predecessor’s method of operation, but there’s little question that he is the beneficiary of Michael Bloomberg’s economic development and investment strategies. Thanks to the Bloomberg boom, Mr. de Blasio’s latest budget has something for nearly everyone, while increasing spending by just 3.6 percent. There are no new taxes in the new budget, but the mayor found additional funds for programs to help renters and to improve ambulance response time in poorly served neighborhoods.
He described his approach as “naturally progressive and naturally fiscally cautious.” Prosperity makes such a balance possible—the city estimates that it will collect an additional $5 billion in taxes in the next fiscal year, compared with the current fiscal year ending June 30.
It is hard not to notice the mayor’s emphasis on two public safety initiatives. He wants to hire 1,000 new police officers, and he has earmarked more than $7 million—including funds to be spent immediately—for new bulletproof vests. Police Commissioner William Bratton described the new armor, which can resist rifle fire, as the “Rolls Royce” of bulletproof vests. These two proposals may not heal the breach between City Hall and the Police Department, but they certainly will help. Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and the man who all but blamed City Hall for the murder of two officers late last year, issued an appropriate statement of gratitude.
Mr. de Blasio also challenged Albany to deliver the city’s fair share of education aid and to untangle the troubled finances of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the parent agency of the city’s subway and bus system. The MTA is running a $15 billion deficit in its capital plan, and the mayor made it clear that Albany has to figure out that mess.
Surging revenues, the by-product of years of smart public policy, have allowed Mr. de Blasio to deliver crowd-pleasing but fiscally responsible budgets. The mayor may have had a difficult first year, but Year 2 appears to be off to a much better start.