Saturday, May 16, 2015


The financial analysts at the city's Independent Budget Office (IBO) have released their latest budget forecast for the city and once again the financial outlook is solid for as far as the fiscal watchdogs can see. These are not wildly optimistic forecasters by nature; they tend to be quite conservative in their projections.

Some highlights of the May 15, 2015 report:

  • IBO projects the city will end the current fiscal year with a surplus of just over $3 billion, nearly identical to the amount expected by the de Blasio Administration.
  • Economic & Tax Revenue Forecast. Our estimate of a $685 million surplus for 2016, as well as substantially smaller shortfalls than projected by the de Blasio Administration for the ensuing years of the financial plan, is largely a reflection of IBO’s forecast of higher tax revenues. IBO’s projection for tax revenues is driven by our economic forecast, which has dimmed slightly since our forecast in March but still remains brighter than the de Blasio Administration’s forecast.
  • ...IBO projects that tax revenues will grow from $50.4 billion this fiscal year to $59.4 billion in 2019, an average annual growth rate of 4.2 percent.
  • —the city’s fiscal outlook remains solid.

Is that cupboard still bare as President Michael Mulgrew claimed it was in 2014 when he settled for a municipal labor pattern setting substandard nine year contract?

We agree with the IBO that there are some risks and an economic downturn could change the budget picture but if the UFT had not settled on a nine year contract stretching from 2009-2018, we would be in a much stronger negotiating position today as the city is flush with cash by any standard. The fact that the city's financial and media elite don't harp on the city's positive balance sheet just shows how they want to portray Mayor Bill de Blasio as a reckless free spending liberal when in reality it looks like he is more stingy than Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

I just looked at the latest salary increase on my pay stub (1% contractual raise and the first 2% of the 8% other city workers received from 2008-2010) but our family's city water bill also increased today and so has our property tax bill so we get to give a chunk of the money right back.

New York City teachers are now a measly 5% ahead of where we were back in May of 2008.  Add to this unknown healthcare savings that are in the contract and all of the demands that have been added to our job that the union has not successfully fought (for example constant demoralizing Danielson observations), and it is no wonder that people are leaving the system as fast as they can.

I become very frustrated when I see the city's financial outlook continues to brighten, not because I wish the city I live in financial harm, but because I know full well that if given a chance, the opposition to Michael Mulgrew's Unity Caucus with the strong backing of the membership could have done much better at negotiating a contract. City workers deserve a fair share of the pie when the city is doing well.

When our contract finally does end in 2018, the city will likely be ready to cry poverty again and our union leaders will probably be out there echoing the gloom and doom predictions.


Dr_Dru said...

James are we really five percent ahead? Adjusting for inflation I think not. We really need people to understand this concept. I know we go up and across the guide in years and education, but those steps on the guide have not kept up with inflation. I do not think they ever will since the Fed wants at least 2% inflation every year. As a unity hack once told me, "we never beat inflation."

Anonymous said...

We no longer have the benefit of outpacing inflation because we were union members. That was the case for many years, but ever since the private sector has bemoaned the fact that our wages aren't as flat as theirs are, our so-called "union" has caved to their demands for minuscule increases. The big-money donors who put the mayor in office are now happy with the New York City workforce being held "In check". The sad part is we are paying hefty union dues every month for this shoddy representation. GET RID OF THE INCOMPETENT MULGREW & THROW UNITY OUT.

Bronx ATR said...

Mulgrew was so incredibly relieved that Bloomberg was gone that he would have given givebacks if the mayor asked him. He's been incredibly accomodating at our expense. I hope that closed meeting between the UFT and the DOE won't show him offering anymore gifts to his new best friends.

James Eterno said...

That is a great point. 5% from 2008 until now definitely leaves us behind the inflation rate. Other unions beat inflation rate for a while but are now falling back too.