CITY HALL — After weeks of protests and late-night negotiations, city officials announced a $68.5 billion budget deal Monday night that staves off the worst of threatened cuts, including the elimination of child care slots and fire company closures.
The deal, which comes days before the June 30 deadline, actually increases the number of daycare and after-school spaces offered by the city, which had been on the chopping block under Mayor Michael Bloomberg's original plan.
In total, the funding will provide for 191,425 childcare slots in fiscal year 2013 — 4,434 more than were available this year.
“Working together, as I’ve said again and again was going to happen, we’ve produced an on-time, balanced budget for our city that does not raise taxes on New Yorkers and that preserves the essential services that we all rely on,” the mayor said at a press conference at City Hall, flanked by dozens of City Council members.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who had warned the child care cuts would create "tremendous disruption" for families, communities and providers, said the plan not only restores funding but increases standards for early learning programs.
“I think we’re all incredibly proud that we found a way to not only preserve child care in the five boroughs, but to make it a more effective part of our educational system,” she said, describing the agreement as “a victory for working families at every income level.”
“Our budget isn’t just a plan on how to spend taxpayers’ dollars. It’s a statement about who we are as a city," she said. "And this budget says that we’re a city where every child will be given the opportunity and the resources to learn.”
In addition to the child care restorations, the budget also prevents the layoffs of 250 school aides that had been outlined in the mayor's original budget plan. As part of a deal reached with DC37, the aides will have their hours cut back by a half hour a day to save their jobs.
Some critics, however, faulted the administration for scaring so many parents and providers by threatening the cuts in the first place.
“Even with restorations, this year’s budget dance has taken a toll on a system worn thin by years of cuts," said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. " Parents have already received letters in the mail telling them they’ve lost child care. Providers have had to tell staff their jobs are on the chopping block."
The deal also includes more monies for libraries and other cultural institutions that had been badly threatened by the cuts.
The budget still relies on a huge shot of money the city expects to generate through the sale of 2,000 taxi medallions — a plan which is currently mired in litigation.
In fact, the city has actually increased the amount it expects to earn from the sales, from $1 billion to $1.46 billion over the next three years, with $635 million of that expected to flow to the city’s coffers in the coming year.
“We still think that we’ve done it right and that we’ll win,” Blooomberg said, adding that, in the case the money doesn’t come through, it would “put an enormous hole in the budget.”
The mayor also defended the restored spending after previously warning of the need for severe cuts.
“We never said the worry was coming to an end,” he said. “We have said repeatedly we will come up with a balanced budget. And we’ll do it in time.”
Other unanticipated revenue includes a $150 million settlement with the bank ING and money saved through lower interest rates.