Gotham faces an existential long-term economic challenge — yet Mayor Bill de Blasio refuses to act accordingly. On the contrary, he seems to be enjoying destroying it.
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Just as it should be opening up to summer and life, New York is shutting down due to looters and vandals. @kith at 337 Lafayette had emptied its shelves for coronavirus lockdown, then boarded itself up, now is building a fort. Not good. pic.twitter.com/r6xW0wHXvB
— Nick Gillespie (@nickgillespie) June 2, 2020
— Linda Santangelo (@Lindasantangel1) June 8, 2020
Bill de Blasio is refusing to face NYC’s existential crisis
New York City started to reopen last week, already itching to reach the next phase; the local economy at last has a chance to start bouncing back. But the grim truth is that Gotham faces an existential long-term economic challenge — yet Mayor Bill de Blasio refuses to act accordingly.
Yes, Hizzoner admits the city faces a fiscal crisis, with the pandemic and lockdown costing $9 billion in revenue over two years. Yet his “solution” so far is little more than to demand a federal bailout and more borrowing authority from Albany. He won’t even acknowledge the long-term crisis.
Even before the riots and looting socked businesses here, the city faced a dire future: Its entire model for prosperity is in doubt, as Nicole Gelinas has warned in The Post. With virus fears remaining, and recent experience showing the possibilities, many commuters may keep working from home, outside the city. Employers may move out, too — especially with looting a recent memory yet the political class focused on restricting the NYPD.
That would only worsen a pre-virus glut of office space and further hurt businesses, like restaurants and retail, that depend on them.
Statewide, it may be worse: Last month, Empire Center fiscal expert E.J. McMahon said New York faced “an economic catastrophe of historic proportions.”
Despite all this — and with just weeks left before the July 1 budget must be set — de Blasio has said little (and done less) to address the looming fiscal nightmare, as revenue tied to the economy sinks.
Though he now foresees a $9 billion gap, his April plan nonetheless would increase city-funded spending. And while private-sector workers suffer pay cuts and job losses, de Blasio plans to boost the city headcount through 2024, even after swelling it 10 percent (30,000 jobs) since taking office.
Plus, he wants Albany to let him borrow $7.4 billion to cover expenses — precisely the kind of thing that led Gotham to near-bankruptcy in the ’70s. Fiscal watchdogs are stunned: The city hasn’t taken “sufficient action to reduce expenditures, which is necessary before borrowing,” cautions Citizens Budget Commission President Andrew Rein. The group just released several better ideas to stem the bleeding:
• Trim the municipal workforce by 9,000 positions, leaving it still larger than before the financial collapse of 2008 and saving nearly $1 billion a year.
• Ask employees to chip in more for their health care and to ease work rules.
• Use more general reserve funds to close out-year gaps.
De Blasio’s goal may be to squeeze by until he steps down next year, but if he leaves the city facing a fiscal doomsday, he can be sure history won’t take kindly to it.