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What you need to know about NYC's new budget

What you need to know about NYC's new budget
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Wikimedia Commons/Hromoslav

This week, Mayor Bill de Blasio released a proposed fiscal 2018 executive budget, which is chock-full of initiatives, spending plans and strategies that will keep New York chugging along for another year. The $84.86 billion budget is the last in de Blasio's first term as mayor—he's up for reelection this November. Talking about the city's finances certainly isn't the sexiest thing in the world (unless fiscal policy gets your engine humming), but there's plenty in the proposal that could have a direct impact on the everyday lives of residents across New York.

Here's what you need to know about the new budget.

The city is preparing for massive cuts at the federal level

New York City taxes the hell out of its citizens, but still relies heavily on funding from the state and federal governments to keep the lights on. Earlier this month, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature in Albany passed a budget that drew mixed reviews from city residents. With the current political climate in Washington, D.C., the mayor and other local politicians are fearing that NYC will lose funding for key programs and projects. In response to that threat, the budget puts a whole mess of money into a safety net, specifically by investing $1 billion in the general reserve, $4 billion into the trust fund for retirees's health benefits and another $250 million into "capital stabilization."

On face value, the idea here is simple: In the the case that a financial catastrophe occurs (see 2008 as one example), the city will be able to tap into these funds to keep everything running.

NYC is spending green on going green

The budget put forth includes a three-year plan to train and employ 3,000 employees in "green jobs," which will be clarified down the road. This initiative will cost a cool $12.8 million through fiscal year 2020. On top of all that environmentally-friendly employment, the proposal also includes an expansion of the E-Waste Curbside Collection Program in Staten Island and Brooklyn. Coming in at $1.1 million next year, the program will allow for more residents in those boroughs to easily recycle their printers, computers and other rare earth metal-harboring electronic devices. 

Get ready for more affordable housing lotteries

Since the new millennium hit, New York City has become a downright expensive place to live. According to the mayor's office, between 2000 and 2014, the average rent in NYC increased by 19 percent, while the real median household income fell by six percent. This year, the unemployment rate in the city hit a record-low of four percent—but that could change at a moment's notice. 

In order to make the city more affordable for everyone, de Blasio's 2018 budget includes $1.9 billion to increase the number of affordable apartments (for household with annual incomes of up to $40,000) in the city by 10,000. Additionally, it calls for $93 million to expand anti-eviction legal services to more low-income families who may be getting screwed by their landlords.

The kids will be alright

There are two major initiatives in the budget to help make life a little bit better for NYC's children. The first: spending $36 million to expand city-funded pre-K to every three-year-old in the city. The second: spending $28.75 over the next five years to ensure that every single public school classroom has air conditioning. 

The budget is not finalized yet

It's important to remember that, at this stage, the executive budget is just a proposal. It still needs to be approved by the City Council, and could undergo a whole medley of changes. The nonpartisan Citizen's Budget Commission notes that de Blasio's proposal would increase the size of the budget by $12.4 billion, or 17 percent, since Mayor Michael Bloomberg's last budget in 2014. Given the financial uncertainties on several levels, the commission claims that this year's plan should include more spending restraint.

But, at the end of the day, this is an election year for de Blasio, and he's aiming to win votes in as many ways as he can. Spending money on key constituents is one easy way to do that. 

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