NEW YORK CITY—Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled an $82.2 billion fiscal year 2017 executive budget that increases spending by almost 4 percent, or $100 million, to pay for a plan to save the city's public hospitals from financial collapse.
The city is also planning for $1.25 billion in savings to counteract what de Blasio called a purposeful effort by the state to "offload" financial responsibilities on the city.
"We're now seeing a proliferation of the state government looking for more and more places to cut back resources for New York City," de Blasio said.
While the city is experiencing growth in population and jobs, there have been drops in investment bank revenue and overall tax revenue growth. Federal support is also unreliable and the city will look for a total of $2.3 billion in savings over the next two budgets, the mayor said.
"The overall sense is we did things we think are strategically important now. We recognize there are tremendous uncertainties," de Blasio said.
One of the biggest uncertainties is the future of the city's public hospital system, recently rebranded as NYC Health + Hospitals.
The agency, which cares for one out of six New Yorkers, many of whom are on Medicaid, uninsured or undocumented immigrants, would face a $600 million shortfall this year and $1.8 billion by 2020 without intervention.
The closure of private city hospitals, combined with a different funding formula from Obamacare and increased competition for Medicaid patients has led to the deficit.
The city will spend $2 billion by fiscal year 2020 to prop up NYC Health + Hospitals, much of it in the form of paying for the agency's capital bonds.
The city will increase baseline budget support by $700 million and spend $100 million to improve infrastructure. The increase for fiscal year 2016 will be $160 million which will increase to $180 million by next year.
The 42,000-person staff of the agency will be reduced by attrition but no hospitals will be closed, de Blasio said.
Officials also announced a blue ribbon panel to help develop plans to transform the agency. That plan may also include selling underutilized hospital properties for development.
"Yes, there may be some land where we could get some revenue...but we have not gotten to the point of sketching that out more specifically," said Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris.
Shorris said the buildings could include parking garages or support buildings. The city also wants to transform NYC Health + Hospitals into a more outpatient-based agency that deals in preventative care to help cut down costly emergency room visits and hospitalizations.
"This is an opportunity for transformation...not just stabilization," said Dr. Herminia Palacio, deputy mayor for Health and Human Services.
Other budget plans unveiled by the mayor include:
• $70 million for a new police precinct in Southeast Queens to help increase response time. "These communities have been fighting for this for 30 and 40 years," de Blasio said.
• Fifty new ambulance tours in The Bronx and Queens to increase response time at a cost of $5 million for fiscal year 2017 which will rise to almost $10 million in fiscal year 2018.
• A $170 million proposal to create an alternative facility for the approximately 180 adolescent offenders and move juveniles off Rikers Island.
• In an effort to fight the growing problem of opioid abuse, the city will spend $5.5 million in fiscal year 2017 to add substance abuse specialists in schools, work with medical providers to reduce over prescribing and add more space in treatment facilities.