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Bloomberg 'Optimistic' About City's Future in Final Budget Address

 Mayor Michael Bloomberg during his preliminary budget announcement at City Hall on Jan. 29, 2013.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg during his preliminary budget announcement at City Hall on Jan. 29, 2013.
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CITY HALL — Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he couldn't "be more optimistic about the future of our city" during his last budget presentation at City Hall Thursday, but he said the city would move forward with cuts he announced earlier this year.

Bloomberg's current executive budget proposal is $69.8 billion, keeping in place budget cuts he announced earlier in the year, including fire company closures and eliminating childcare for tens of thousands of children, angering some advocacy organizations.

Bloomberg said cuts have to be made in order to control, in part, the rise in non-controllable spending like city employee pensions without raising taxes.

"The bottom line is we have only a certain amount of money, and if we have to pay higher healthcare costs it comes out of something else," the mayor said. "So when somebody says we need 1,000 more cops, the police commissioner loves it, but I'm not sure the teachers would love it."

"You have to decide," he added. "Do you want a teacher or do you want a cop?"

Some advocates criticized the mayor's budget decisions, including cutting millions of dollars from after-school and daycare programs.

“We are outraged by the mayor’s failure to recognize the importance of childcare and after-school to New York City’s children and working families," the Campaign for Children said in a statement.

"He has chosen to once again balance the budget on the backs of children — meaning that tens of thousands of children will be deprived of programs that are essential to their safety and future success, and that their hard-working parents will have to scramble to find safe places for their children or be forced to quit their jobs."

The budget is not final until the City Council votes on it. The Council has until June 30 to negotiate with the mayor and reach a final decision on cuts.

Looking ahead, Bloomberg said that non-controllable spending — like pensions, healthcare and Medicaid costs — represent the biggest budget challenge for the city moving forward, and that negotiating with public employees unions to have workers pay for part of their health insurance costs will be necessary.

"Unless we do something, those expenses will bankrupt us," the mayor warned.

The Department of Education will get the biggest spending increase of any agency under the budget proposal, with the city shelling out more than $13 billion in fiscal year 2014, Bloomberg said.

The mayor said the increase comes as the amount of state funding for educational expenses has declined, with the city now spending $4.7 billion more than the state on education.

The mayor's budget also reduced the amount of revenue the city expects to receive from issuing new taxi medallions from $600 million to $300 million. The taxi medallion sale is currently on hold because of litigation.