The headlines surrounding this week’s New York City budget naturally focused on #DefundthePolice demands. But for all its larger potential implications for New Yorkers’ security and quality of life, the partially illusory $1 billion “cut” in the New York Police Department budget was a sideshow in fiscal terms.
The main event was the city’s squishiest, shakiest budget in 30 years — and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s failure to rise adequately to the challenge of a serious, looming fiscal crisis. Grappling with enormous revenue losses, both Gotham and New York state urgently need to reorder priorities, restructure operations and reduce spending.
But like Gov. Andrew Cuomo at the state level, Hizzoner has failed to tackle this problem head on. Instead, also like Cuomo, the mayor is avoiding tough decisions and playing for time. Both the mayor and the governor are counting on Congress to deliver billions of dollars in unrestricted aid to states and cities as part of the next rescue bill, expected to pass at the end of July.
Like the governor, the mayor entered 2020 inadequately prepared for a garden-variety recession, much less the sharp and sudden downturn in economic activity brought on by the March COVID-19 lockdowns.
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