By Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech
Mayor Bill de Blasio projects that up to 22,000 city employees could be laid off or furloughed to save $1 billion in agency spending for fiscal year 2021.
“This is a blunt reality today, there is still time to address it, avert it, but that is what we are looking at as we only have a few days left to finish the city budget,” de Blasio told reporters during press conference on Wednesday.
In April, de Blasio proposed $89.3 billion budget for fiscal year 2021, $6 billion less than what he initially proposed in January, in order to help close a $ 9 billion deficit caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Close to $3 billion in cuts and austerity measures in education, health services, social service, housing, transportation along with city hiring delays. On Wednesday, the mayor said that the budget would have to be lowered, again, to an $ 87 billion budget.
The mayor predicted that it would take the city up to four years to fully recover from the economic downturn the city suffered during the novel coronavirus pandemic. De Blasio cautioned that the economic situation in the city could get worse, recognizing that there are still “a lot of unknowns up ahead” in regard to a resurgence of the virus.
Even with the outlined savings the city still needs to find $1 billion from the workforce. Layoffs would be a last resort, de Blasio said, if the city can not come to agreement with workforce unions. De Blasio again blamed Washington and Albany for the additional strain on city resources saying that it was clear that federal relief funds were “not happening.”
De Blasio tried to increase the city’s borrowing capacity in May to temporarily fill the budget deficit but has not been successful. The deadline for the city to pass next year’s fiscal budget is Tuesday, June 30.
“Right now we have to make decisions based on the facts and numbers that we have,” said de Blasio. “That means we have means we have to turn to very, very difficult choices.”