Ronnie Lowenstein is the Director of the Independent Budget Office. She testified at the City Council Finance Committee earlier today. Here are some highlights:
IBO projects the city will end the current year with a $3.9 billion surplus, $375 million more than estimated by the Mayor’s budget office.We anticipate the city will end fiscal year 2020 with a surplus of $675 million, which would reduce the projected budget gap for 2021 to $1.7 billion—an amount largely covered by the reserves already built into the budget.
Lowenstein projects slower job growth but continues:Likewise, we expect slower but continued growth in city tax collections. IBO projects that tax revenue growth will average 3.7 percent annually from 2018 through 2023
Are UFT salary increases under the current contract equaling the city's projected 3.7% increase in tax revenues?
Year Salary Increase
2022-0% through September 13th.
2023-To be determined
As for waiting until 2020 for half of the back pay (lump sum payments) from 2009-2011 that UFT President Michael Mulgrew said the city couldn't afford to give us back in 2014 because the city's cupboard was bare and he repeated this in 2017 because he said the costs were too large, IBO told one of our readers back in 2016 what those costs would be to the city.
While IBO does not have an exact cost for how large these retroactive lump sums will be, because they are directly linked to the number of union members who will be employed on the days the payments are scheduled to be made, we can estimate the maximum cost of these lump sums based upon the total PS costs for pedagogical employees in 2009-2011. Based upon the total PS costs from those years we estimate that the entire lump sum payment would be a maximum of $560 million if every member were to remain employed by the DOE through 10/1/20.
This total would translate to a maximum of $70 million paid out in 2017 and $140 million paid out in 2018 – 2020. These funds, if not already accounted for in DOE’s financial plan, would increase the city-funds portion of DOE’s budget by less than one percent in 2017 and around one percent in each subsequent year.
IBO has not made any estimates about what the final cost of this portion of UFT’s collective bargaining agreement would be although we assume, as a result of attrition and other separations, that it will be somewhat less than the $560 million.
A maximum cost to the city of $140 million for 2019 and the same for 2020 (it is less because of the UFT members who resigned or were terminated since the 2014 contract was signed and won't get the remaining lump sum payments). The city could afford to give us that money today and it would not make an even tiny dent in their huge $3.9 billion surplus.I don't expect the city to even entertain the thought of giving us the money now or both the 2019 and 2020 payments combined this year (some would complain about the higher tax bracket) but the point is to say that other than UFT incompetence or the UFT lying in bed with the city, there was absolutely no reason for us to have to wait ten years for money we earned back from 2009-2011. We should have been paid in full years ago.