FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 23, 2013
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.
"At the outset, I want to thank the members of the Board for their excellent work and partnership over the 12 years our Administration has been in office.
"The Board was instrumental in guiding the City out of the fiscal crisis of the 1970s - and you've helped us weather the fiscal challenges of the last dozen years, too.
"When our Administration came into office in 2002, the City was reeling from the attacks of 9/11.
"As we guided the City's recovery and restored strength to its economy, we also restored order to its finances.
"We bounced back stronger and faster than anyone imagined possible, but we were challenged again as we contended with the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
"Even as cities and states across the nation laid off public employees and cut back on services, our City's sound financial management and pro-growth economic strategies allowed us to enter the recession later than the rest of the country and come out of it sooner than the rest of the country.
"That had never happened before: Historically, New York City entered recessions sooner and took longer to recover.
"The City's fiscal management and targeted investments not only helped us come back sooner and stronger, they've also positioned us to weather future downturns even better than we did the last.
"Last year, our City and region were set back again by Hurricane Sandy - the worst natural disaster in New York's history.
"We've worked hard since then, along with our State and Federal partners, to help impacted business reopen doors for customers and help homeowners recover and rebuild more resiliently.
"I want to thank Governor Cuomo and his team for working closely with us during and after the storm - from the restoration centers that we jointly staffed to get people the immediate help they needed, to the work we have been doing together on long-term recovery.
"The storm was a tremendous challenge - but thanks to a groundbreaking response effort, the City has once again bounced back.
"We're on strong footing - and poised for an even stronger future.
"Eleven years after my first appearance before this Board, we have every reason to be confident in the City's future.
"That confidence is reflected in the fact that, for the first time since before 1950, more people are moving to New York City than away from it.
"They're being drawn here in part by our record-breaking public safety gains: Crime is down 33 percent since 2001 - and last year, we had the lowest number of murders and shootings in the city's recorded history.
"This year, we're on pace to break both of those records by a significant amount - murders and shootings are both down another 28 percent citywide since last year.
"Those safety gains aren't isolated to a few neighborhoods - they're being shared by every borough.
"Two decades ago, Manhattan's Upper East Side was considered one of the safest parts of the City. Today, nearly every single precinct in the City has fewer violent crimes than the Upper East Side did back then.
"To put that turnaround in perspective, consider how the Bronx - which two decades ago was one of the nation's most violent places - compares to some of the nation's big cities today.
"The Bronx has slightly more residents than Dallas, Texas - but while the Bronx had 32 murders in the first half of 2013, Dallas had 71; more than twice as many.
"The Bronx has about the same number of people as the City of Philadelphia - but Philadelphia had 116 murders through July 1st, nearly four times as many as the Bronx did.
"In 1990, the year when our City had its most homicides, there were 651 murders in the Bronx. This year, for the first time since 1966, the Bronx is on pace to have fewer than 100 homicides.
"Families are also being drawn to New York by our strong economy. The number of private sector jobs in the City has eclipsed the record high set back in the 1960s.
"We've gained back more than 275 percent of jobs lost during the recession - and most of that growth is happening outside of Manhattan, reflecting the efforts we've made to invest in neighborhoods in every borough.
"Brooklyn in particular has experienced tremendous growth, accounting for nearly 40 percent of all jobs created since 2001. Today, the proportion of total private sector jobs that are outside of Manhattan is at an all-time high.
"That's a great sign for the future of our City.
"So is the continuing growth of our tech sector, in which the City has made significant investments as part of our broader efforts to diversify the economy.
"The number of tech jobs has grown significantly since 2005, as more and more tech companies are deciding to base or expand their operations in New York.
"Over the past decade, the number of venture capital deals in New York City grew by 160 percent, faster than anywhere else in the country.
"Last year, there were about 100 New York City-based tech companies acquired for a total of $8.3 billion.
"The new jobs those companies are creating in New York City are good-paying jobs that create revenue for our City and will keep us at the center of the innovations that are driving the 21st-century economy.
"The budget we announced last month with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn will help us build on these gains. The budget was delivered balanced and on-time, just as our budgets have been in each of the last 12 years.
"It preserves essential services without raising taxes on New Yorkers. It increases City support for priorities we share with the Council; For example, working with the Council, we're providing some $58 million to the City's Housing Authority.
"In addition to supporting the core mission of providing public housing, that funding will also help maintain senior centers and other community programs at NYCHA developments.
"We've also agreed to commit $250 million in City capital funds to projects outlined in our plan to build 'a stronger, more resilient New York' that we issued last month.
"Those projects will make New York better able to withstand future major coastal storms and other risks posed by climate change.
"We have also maintained the strength of the FDNY; there will be no reduction in the number of fire companies in our city.
"City support for public libraries and cultural institutions will also remain essentially the same as it is in the current fiscal year.
"That means that our cultural sector will have the support it needs to continue creating jobs and driving economic growth in our city.
"We're able to achieve these goals without raising taxes.
"We can do that, in part, because of the recent State Court of Appeals ruling in the City's favor on the 'borough taxi' plan, which will allow us to go ahead with the sale of new taxi medallions.
"We're also aided by the fact that interest rates have remained lower than we forecast they would be. That's produced over $200 million in savings, including savings realized from refinancing the City's debt.
"During the current fiscal year, City tax revenues have also run somewhat ahead of our forecasts. Much of that has come in the form of higher-than-expected real estate tax collections.
"We have managed the City's finances responsibly - and we will continue to do so for every remaining day of our tenure here.
"We will leave our successors in City Hall with a New York on sound fiscal footing, better poised for continued growth and competitiveness in the years to come than it's ever been.
"At the same time, the City's future financial stability depends on the next administration's willingness not to bend to the demands of labor unions for retroactive pay raises.
"Acquiescing to the unions' demands would severely undermine the City's fiscal health. Our Administration has refused to pay retroactive raises because taxpayers cannot afford them - and we will not saddle taxpayers or the next administration with debts they can't afford.
"If retroactive raises were granted on the terms the unions have been demanding, it would cost our taxpayers at least $7.8 billion.
"The City would have to immediately raise property taxes substantially or nearly double income taxes - either of which would badly damage our economy.
"The alternative would be to slash essential services, which would have a terrible impact on our quality of life, drive away residents, and severely hamper our ability to assist the most vulnerable.
"We are ready to sign contracts that provide reasonable raises going forward, funded largely through health-care reforms - but retroactive raises are off the table.
"We have set aside money to fund those reasonable future raises, and we have proposed health care savings that would bring city workers more in line with state employees.
"As this board has noted time and again, the exponential growth in employee and retiree health costs poses a serious risk to the City's future financial stability.
"For the past two months we have been working with the municipal unions on a Request for Proposals for a new health insurance plan that would modernize the current system and generate substantial savings.
"We will be ready to issue this solicitation as early as next week, and we hope our partners in labor will work with us to get that done.
"Overhauling the current plan will not only improve the care our nearly 300,000 employees receive, it is essential to putting health care costs on a sustainable footing going forward.
"During the recession, we managed to maintain services and balance the budget without resorting to mass layoffs.
"In fact, many municipal workers got raises during the low point of the national recession, and many have continued to get seniority and promotional raises.
"By holding the line on retroactive raises, we are putting the next administration in a position of strength when it comes to contract negotiations.
"Union leaders will not wait another four years for a new contract, which will put the next administration in a strong position to negotiate much-needed pension and health care savings.
"The City's future has never been brighter. Our streets are safer than they've been in decades, our schools are stronger, and our economy is poised to continue innovating, creating jobs, and welcoming new businesses around the five boroughs.
"It has been a pleasure working with the members of this Board, even during challenging times, over the last 12 years.
"And in closing I want to once again thank the members of the Board for your service to the City and the State, and for your partnership.
"I look forward to hearing the comments of others."
Marc La Vorgna/Kamran Mumtaz (212) 788-2958
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