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Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City Council agreed to a $70 billion budget deal last night. The Daily News reports that the agreement mostly avoids cuts to the public housing authority under the federal sequester. Other than that, the budget deal largely maintained last year's agreement: there are no tax cuts and planned cuts to funding of libraries and after-school programs won't happen. The budget also includes $250 million in new spending to prepare the city for future extreme weather.
Weekend Roundup: The governor said Sunday he will ask federal prosecutors to look into a report on the Long Island Power Authority that found "breathtaking waste and inefficiency." Albany approves speed cameras, but not the women's equality agenda at the end of session. Here's one take on why the women's equality agenda failed. And here's an editorial in the Daily News about some of the fallout. State voters will now get to decide whether to expand casinos upstate.
Other Stories We're Following
Labor Rallies To Have Role In Mayoral Election (Daily News)
Police Scrutinizing Deadly Crashes (NY Times)
Thousands of union workers rallied yesterday at City Hall Park to demonstrate their frustration over the lack of contract negotiations between Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration and city employees.
"The people united will not be defeated," unionized teachers, firefighters, sanitation workers and police officers continuously chanted, their words echoing through the park as giant screens showed images of the protest.
The rally, coordinated by the Municipal Labor Committee, was touted by organizers as a vigorous response to Bloomberg's decision to allow city unions' contracts to expire, leaving over 300,000 employees without labor agreements.
Bloomberg presented his final $70 billion budget plan in early May, which marks his 12th budget in his 11-and-a-half years in office. Under the proposal, 20 fire companies would be closed and $135 million cut from afterschool and early-childhood education programs.
The budget also has no money allocated for city employees' backpay in case renegotiating contracts results in salary increases. The cumulative price of paying the city's workforce retroactively could be over $7 billion.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s budget director says that long-unsettled contracts with municipal unions don’t have to undermine the financial health of the city.
Mark Page, the director of the city’s Office of Management and Budget, told city lawmakers yesterday at a hearing on the 2014 fiscal year budget that any financial burden stemming from contract negotiations would largely be the fault of negotiators.
"You only owe it if you agree to sign a contract that says you owe it," Page said. "The increase is going to be whatever someone agrees to."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed a $70 billion budget for fiscal year 2014, which includes the usual cuts to services such as child care and libraries.
While Page fielded several questions about those cuts at yesterday’s hearing before the Council’s finance committee, city lawmakers also asked him pointed questions about the possibility that the unresolved contracts could become a drag on the budget.
Several candidates who want to succeed Mayor Michael Bloomberg have responded lukewarmly to City Hall's plans to offer new contracts to city employees in exchange for foregoing retroactive pay increases.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the Democratic frontrunner, said in a statement to the Gotham Gazette that she supports fair compensation for city workers and a dialog between union leaders and the administration.
"At the same time," she said, "we must always be mindful of the city budget, and honor our obligations to NYC taxpayers, and should strive to reach agreements that are fair to all parties."
Independence party candidate and former Bronx borough president Adolfo Carrión also supported ongoing talks balanced with fiscal restraint, as did Republican candidate and former MTA chief Joe Lhota.
"I applaud the mayor for making contract negotiations a priority," Lhota said. "Getting contracts in place for the city's workers that are fair and fiscally responsible is in the best interest of all New Yorkers."
STOP-AND-FRISK ON TRIAL: A federal judge begins hearing key testimony today in a trial to determine whether the New York Police Department has been unlawfully targeting blacks and Hispanics with its tactic of stopping, questioning and frisking people on the street. The New York Times writes that the outcome "will help define the terms under which the department patrols large swaths of the city long after Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg leaves office." The U.S. District Judge in the case, Shira Scheindlin, has expressed misgivings about the NYPD's stop-and-frisk tactics (Bloomberg, The Associated Press).
LIU DECLARES: Comptroller John Liu (@JohnCLiu2013) officially declared that he is running for mayor on the steps of City Hall in front of hundreds of people Sunday. Striking a populist tone, the Democrat took aim at Mayor Michael Bloomberg's as beholden to the wealthiest New Yorkers. Liu defiantly cast the legal cloud surrounding an investigation into his campaign's fundraising as a result of his willingness to stand up to powerful interests. "When you go after powerful people and rich corporations, they're going to come after you," he said in his speech (Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, many others).
Cuomo And State Lawmakers In Deep Budget Talks (Capital Tonight)
State Senate Underdog Drives Campaign Finance Reform (Associated Press)
School Aid Could Be Restored Under State Budget (Gotham Schools)
Mayor Bloomberg announced this weekend that city agencies must cut a total of $2 billion dollars from their budgets this year and the next. That equals slashing a total of 3 percent of the total budget over the next 18 months. He has also warned of possible layoffs. Meanwhile, he gave raises to some of his staff, but contends those aides are taking on more work as a result of staffing cuts.
In the press...
Police reports suggest officers sometimes portray crimes less seriously
Civilian Complaint Board starts hiring for prosecuting unit
District leader race a show of strength for Brooklyn Democratic machine