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State Financial Control Board Gives Thumbs Up to Mayor's First Budget

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The city's finances are healthy—for now. That's the assessment from a board set up after the 1970s fiscal crisis, which still has to approve New York's budgets a generation later. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.

It's Mayor Bill de Blasio's first budget and fiscal watchdogs give it their blessings.

"You're off to a great start," said State Comptroller Thomas Dinapoli.

"Thank you, Mayor de Blasio, for an excellent budget presentation, and a process that I think led to a strong balanced budget for our city," said City Comptroller Scott Stringer.

Not everyone sees things so rosy.

Dig deep into the city's finances, experts see problems—especially the fund set aside to pay for health care costs for retirees.

Lawrence Golub is one of three private members of the financial control board.

"The unfunded retiree health cost is about $92 billion, which is about $11,000 for every city resident," Golub said.

According to the mayor, point taken.

"We have to come to grips with health care costs, and the step we've taken initially I think is very promising," de Blasio said.

There are other concerns.

De Blasio entered office with every city union without contracts.

Now, 60 percent of workers have deals, but even with givebacks, the agreements are projected to nearly quadruple the city's budget gaps, from 2016 to 2018.

Before the agreements, the gap was $1.96 billion. Now, it's nearly $7.6 billion.

Nearly half that gap comes from retroactive pay.

"We're kicking billions of dollars in back pay into the future, and really hoping and praying that Wall Street continues to go crazy," said Nicole Gelinas of the Manhattan Institute.

The state comptroller says the gaps are significantly smaller than the average over the past 35 years.

"By most measures, the city's economy is stronger today, but the possibility of an economic setback increases with each year," DiNapoli said.

De Blasio's first budget didn't cut at all, but now he says that's likely to change, especially when it comes to funding for city schools.

"Obviously, I have some real differences with the previous administration.
and there were some cost ramifications to some of their policy choices that we will look at very differently," the mayor said.

De Blasio wouldn't elaborate. He says they'll emerge during the next budget, due in just under a year.

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