FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 23, 2012
MAYOR BLOOMBERG PRESENTS CITY FINANCIAL PLAN TO THE NEW YORK STATE FINANCIAL CONTROL BOARD ANNUAL MEETING
The following are Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s remarks as prepared. Please check against delivery.
“Thank you, and good afternoon, everyone. Before I speak about the City’s budget and four-year financial plan, I want to thank the members of the Financial Control Board for their continued leadership and excellent work.
“New York City has made a 180-degree turn-around since 1975, when the Board was formed to help draw the City back from the brink of fiscal ruin. The keen insight and expert oversight offered by the Board played a large role in that transformation – together with the guidance of Mayor Koch, as well as past Governors Hugh Carey and Mario Cuomo.
“We continue to appreciate your sober and even-handed analysis of the City’s financial state and our plans moving forward. And we greatly appreciate the strong leadership and support for New York City that current Governor Andrew Cuomo has shown over the past 18 months.
“Today, I’m here to discuss a City budget that responsibly and effectively balances the demands of the present with the needs of the future. As the Board acknowledges in its report, New York City’s economy continues to outperform the nation’s, especially in job growth. The number of New Yorkers with private sector jobs is at an all-time high.
“It now exceeds the record set back in 1969 – and we expect this growth in private sector jobs to continue. We know that the City’s job market, like the rest of the world’s, is increasingly competitive and information-based, and that a high school diploma is the bare minimum required for most of these jobs.
“We’ve worked to make sure New Yorkers have the skills needed to meet employers’ needs – by ensuring that students graduate high school ready for college and the professional world, and by expanding City-run employment and job-readiness programs.
“Of course, some jobs go to people who work in the city but live outside it. But the fact that New York City’s population is at an all-time high shows that more and more families are being drawn to the city, confident they will find opportunity here.
“Last week’s employment numbers reflect that reality. The number of jobs in the city increased, and so did the number of job-seekers – which is why the unemployment rate increased. We want to produce enough jobs to see those job-seekers find work, and we’re making the investments that will help us to do that.
“The Board’s report accurately highlights New York City’s tourism industry as having played a key role in our ability to weather the economic downturn better than the rest of the country. New York City has always drawn tourists.
“But never before had the City developed a strategic long-term plan to attract more people from around the world – a plan that included unprecedented marketing campaigns and major investments in our parks and cultural institutions, as well as upgrades to our transportation infrastructure.
“By doing that and more, we have raised our tourism numbers to record-breaking heights, which has also been a boon to our hotel, restaurant and entertainment industries. Throughout the economic downturn, we’ve been careful to avoid the mistakes of the seventies, when essential services were slashed in an attempt to balance the books, sending quality of life into a tailspin.
“Instead, we’ve found new ways to cut crime and improve public safety. So far this year, we’re on course to have the fewest murders in recorded history. Sadly, yesterday’s tragic loss of a 4-year old child to gun violence reminds us that even a single death is one too many. And under no circumstances can we be deterred in our efforts to get illegal guns off the streets and out of the hands of criminals.
“We’ve also seen a record low number of fire deaths in recent years, thanks to the FDNY’s record-low fire response times and improved inspection and prevention measures. And we’ve seen a record-low number of traffic deaths, thanks to our three-fold approach to traffic safety – better engineering, better education and better enforcement.
“Thanks to all this work, New York City is the safest big city in the nation, and last year, we wrapped up the safest decade in our recorded history. That would have been unimaginable in the era when the Financial Control Board was founded.
“In addition, our comprehensive public health campaigns, including our efforts to combat smoking and obesity, are helping New Yorkers to live longer, healthier lives. In fact, New Yorkers now enjoy a life expectancy that is nearly three years longer than the average American’s.
“At the same time, we’ve made the major investments to expand economic opportunity that are needed keep crime numbers low – and City revenues high – in the years to come. That includes the largest affordable housing program the nation has ever seen. Last week, we hit the 85 percent mark in our goal of building or preserving 165,000 units of affordable housing.
“We are also hitting new milestones in our schools. Last week, we announced the results of statewide test scores, which showed continued gains by City students in all grades – with our charter schools leading the way.
“Those gains are reflected in rising high school graduation rates as well – up from 46.5 percent in 2005 to 65.5 percent in 2012. That’s an increase of 41 percent in New York City, compared to a seven percent increase in the rest of the state over the same period.
“The positive impact of these investments on New York families is sure to be felt when future boards gather here to discuss the City’s fiscal outlook. This year’s balanced budget also reflects our efforts to diversify the City’s economy.
“Growing revenue from television and film production, as well as our expanding tech and biosciences sectors, have helped offset the loss in tax revenue from the financial services sector we’ve absorbed in recent years.
“Tech jobs, for example, have grown by 30 percent over the last five years, and we’re making investments to keep that number moving upwards in the future, including our applied science initiative, which is resulting in major new investments by several of the world’s leading universities. This emphasis on economic diversity positions the city to weather future downturns more strongly than ever before.
“Last month, I joined City Council Speaker Christine Quinn to announce a balanced, on-time budget for Fiscal Year 2013. It preserves essential services without raising taxes on New Yorkers. It increases City support for priorities we share with the Council – for example, the number of classroom teachers will increase in the next school year. City support for public libraries and cultural institutions will also remain essentially the same.
“Our budget reflects nearly $6 billion in savings generated though the 11 rounds of deficit-closing actions taken by City agencies since 2007, including $1 billion in savings enacted since last November.
“Combined with the remainder of the surplus we wisely saved during the last economic boom, those savings are what permit us to preserve core City services without raising City taxes. They also permit us to meet the increased demand for social safety net programs.
“We’re also using $1 billion from the Retiree Health Benefits Trust Fund that we began setting aside before the downturn, in exactly the manner it was intended to be used: to cover the costs of retirees’ health benefits.
“The budget also includes revenue from the sale of 2,000 taxi medallions authorized by the State. This measure is part of a taxi expansion that will do more than raise dollars for the City. It will also bring legal taxi service to the nearly seven million New Yorkers who live outside of Manhattan.
“I want to thank Governor Cuomo for standing with us in our effort to bring legal taxi service to all New Yorkers. As you know, the sale of the yellow taxi medallions has been delayed by lawsuits challenging the State Legislature’s action – and by those who, for their own financial reasons, want to prevent most New Yorkers from enjoying a service they rightfully deserve.
“We are confident that the City will prevail, and with ample time to enact our responsible plan to begin selling these medallions over three years. There is still much hard work to come – our budget projects a gap of $2.5 billion in Fiscal Year 2014, which we’re already working to eliminate.
“And the continuing sluggishness of the national and international economies means fiscal stresses will continue to challenge our city in the foreseeable future. I’m confident that, working with Speaker Quinn and the City Council, we will continue to keep the city in excellent fiscal shape while delivering the historic levels of service New Yorkers rightfully have come to expect.
“Thanks to Governor Cuomo’s strong leadership, action has finally been taken to address the skyrocketing costs of public pensions. The broad, comprehensive legislation the Governor spearheaded this year with support from leaders across the state will save the City $21 billion over 30 years.
“That’s $21 billion of investments that will help attract new residents and businesses, keep streets safe and schools strong and make our city greener and more sustainable for future generations.
“It also conveys the message that the governments of New York City and State are willing to tackle the most difficult long-term financial challenges. That’s going to continue to inspire further private sector confidence, investment, and job creation.
“Thank you, and I look forward to hearing the comments of others.”
Stu Loeser / Marc La Vorgna (212) 788-2958
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