Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson announced a $89.15 billion budget agreement for the fiscal year 2019 on Monday, capping off a somewhat tense negotiation process with a handshake and a hug in the City Hall rotunda.
The budget is the largest in the city's history, nearly $4 billion higher than last year, and up $331 million from de Blasio's initial proposal released in April. At Johnson's urging, and in spite of the mayor's initial opposition, the budget includes $106 million for the Fair Fares program, which will provide half-price subway and bus rides to about 800,000 New Yorkers living under the federal poverty line ($29,420 a year for a family of five, or $12,140 for an individual). That program—"undoubtedly the most passionate priority during budget negotiations," according to the mayor—is scheduled to launch early next year.
The budget also adds $150 million in capital funds to increase school accessibility, and $200 million in capital funds to upgrade heating systems at NYCHA developments. Hours before the agreement was announced, federal prosecutors released the results of a two-year investigation into NYCHA, which found that senior management at the housing authority has repeatedly deceived regulators and put tenants in harm's way. As a result of those findings, the mayor agreed to provide the struggling authority with another $2 billion in capital funds in the next decade.
Other piecemeal initiatives aimed at expanding the city's social safety net include $3 million toward 60 new beds in runaway and homeless youth shelters; $500 million for affordable housing for seniors at NYCHA and Housing Preservation and Development sites; and $8.7 million in funding for soup kitchens and food pantries in the city. The budget will also add another $125 million to the city's general reserves, raising its rainy day fund to a total of $1.125 billion.
"That is a prudent and responsible thing to do," Johnson said Monday. "This is a huge step in making sure the social services that we offer now are not cut in an economic downturn."
After more than a year of feuding between de Blasio and Cuomo about who should fund the Subway Action Plan, the mayor has also reluctantly agreed to earmark $418 million for the MTA—a one-time expenditure, he insists, which does not change the fact that the state is responsible for funding the subway. The governor does not see things this way.
The NYPD budget will likely remain at around $6 billion—or about two-thirds of the entire United Nations global peacekeeping efforts—despite the fact that crime in the city continues to drop. A City Council hearing is scheduled for Wednesday to discuss some of the ways the department is using its tremendous resources.
"A budget is an expression of your values," the mayor said on Monday. "Thanks to the hard work of Speaker Corey Johnson and the men and women of the New York City Council, this city has a fiscal year budget that will bring us even closer to being the fairest big city in America."
The budget is expected to receive a vote in the City Council as early as Thursday.