When even progressives like City Comptroller Scott Stringer and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson fret over Mayor de Blasio’s spending, it’s time to worry.
Stringer blasted de Blasio’s $89.1 billion budget Sunday, noting it adds $4 billion in outlays — a 5 percent jump over last year, or double the rate of inflation. “We can’t just spend wildly,” he warns.
Johnson wants to sock away $500 million “to weather future shocks,” and shave $235 million from agency budgets.
Even former Democratic Gov. David Paterson ripped the mayor’s plan to shell out $2 billion on the homeless (about $25,000 for every homeless person) — spending Johnson slams as “a runaway train.”
Yet most alarming isn’t the waste of money and heavy toll on taxpayers. It’s that the mayor is setting up the city for fiscal catastrophe when the economy weakens and revenues wither, as even he admits is bound to happen sooner or later.
De Blasio’s plan for what to do then: “We are going to have serious consequences.”
Well, duh. No wonder Stringer insists that “we should be setting aside revenues and controlling our spending.”
As we noted last month, Hizzoner’s plan would bloat spending by $15 billion, or about 20 percent, over Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s final budget. If revenues fall short, it will mean painful budget cuts that even plentiful reserves might not be enough to stave off.
Fact is, Stringer and Johnson probably wouldn’t go far enough to fix things. Johnson has his own new-spending ideas, such as $212 million to offer low-income New Yorkers half-price MetroCards.
And he’d return $187 million to middle-income taxpayers via gimmicky one-time $400 property-tax rebates — a drop in the bucket of residents’ enormous city and state tax bills.
We’re glad Johnson vows to fight for more rainy-day cash in budget talks with the mayor. But what the city needs is a massive budgetary course correction — before the next recession forces one.
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