Mayor Bill de Blasio loves to spend taxpayer cash — and he proved that again Tuesday in the $82. 2 billion spending plan he rolled out for the 2017 fiscal year. Question is: Is he setting the city up for a cash crunch down the road? De Blasio’s budget would hike total outlays 4 percent, while inflation has been roughly zero.
That’ll put the tab at a whopping 15 percent more than Team Bloomberg’s last budget, just three years ago — a time when annual inflation has averaged less than 1 percent. And budget talks with the City Council are sure to push the bottom line even higher. Clearly, de Blasio knows the risks.
New York’s economy, particularly its vital financial sector, is tied to global trends, he said — and the danger signs are flashing. He cited lower Wall Street profits (just what progressives love, no?) and a slowdown in projected revenue growth in coming years. Yet Hizzoner’s budget nonetheless shells out more money for a range of goodies, from schools to ambulances to city hospitals.
Some of it may be needed — but the ballooning outlays are also driven by generous union contracts de Blasio signed after taking office. Something’s got to give. To his credit, de Blasio is putting more money into accounts.
And he’s boasting of agency “savings. ” But whether all that will be enough is anyone’s guess. The Citizens Budget Commission, for one, called de Blasio’s savings “uncertain,” noting they rely heavily on accounting games and hopes that the feds will pay more for Medicaid — not from actual spending reforms.
The key lesson for Gotham budgeteers: When spending goes up, it almost never comes down, unless the city hits a major fiscal crisis — caused by . . .
too much spending. Team de Blasio may learn that the hard way. And at the city’s expense.