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  July 3, 2005

Cutting Taxes And Investing In Our Public Schools

By Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg

Last week, the City Council and I reached an agreement on a City budget for the new fiscal year, which will run from now through next July. This marked the fourth year in a row that we've reached a fair and balanced budget on time. And that's a tribute to all of our city's elected officials who are working together for the sake of every New Yorker.

This year's approximately $50 billion spending plan reflects the priorities of our Administration, and will help us keep our streets safe and clean, continue to improve our schools, create jobs and improve our quality of life in all five boroughs. It includes $500 million in tax relief for hard-working New Yorkers and their families. Once again, homeowners will receive a $400 property tax rebate for reaching into their pockets and helping pull our city out of our fiscal crisis. We are also eliminating the City sales tax on clothing and footwear priced under $110. This will help more New Yorkers make ends meet, and curb the loss of shopping dollars to neighboring cities and states. The sales tax exemption will take effect September 1st, just in time for that last minute back-to-school shopping.

We are also making the significant and necessary investments in our future with more than $14 billion in the budget for education - a nearly $750 million increase from the previous year. We took a monumental step forward this past year in our effort to reform our public schools and give every child the education they need and deserve. We began to see clear signs of progress after students in all grade levels achieved record increases in test scores. Now we are going to build on these gains by opening new schools, decreasing class size, making schools safer and expanding teacher mentoring programs.

The fact that the new budget increases funding for education and offers all New Yorkers tax relief - while protecting our city's core services - underscores just how far New York has come over the past four years. We still need to continue to be fiscally responsible and restrain spending wherever possible, but the fiscal crisis that followed 9/11 is behind us and our economy is growing again. In fact, New York City's economic growth is outpacing the nation's for the first time since before the recession began in 2001. Unemployment hasn't been this low since before 9/11. Crime is down nearly 20% from four years ago. Our streets are cleaner than they've been in 30 years. And with new parks and open spaces being developed in all five boroughs, our quality of life has never been stronger.