He asked for cuts and city agencies delivered, but still, the savings won't be enough.
"Unfortunately, we met an additional challenge, and that $750 million savings target, although ambitious on its face, proved to be insufficient," Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday during a budget briefing at City Hall.
De Blasio unveiled his $92.5 billion executive budget proposal, detailing $916 million in total savings. That number exceeds the $750 million goal set by the mayor in February, but thanks to several new expenses and cuts from the state, the city's budget continues to grow.
The biggest cut will go to the Department of Education, which will slash $104 million in funding and eliminate the external learning program at Renewal Schools, a program the administration is already phasing out. De Blasio is also making cuts to cultural institutions and underused public housing senior centers, and cutting back the number of after-school program slots.
The mayor is also cutting First Lady Chirlane McCray's controversial ThriveNYC program by $9 million this fiscal year, with more cuts expected in the final agreement with the City Council.
"We now are in a situation where certain service levels will be affected. We had to make decisions," the mayor said.
But the cuts don't equal savings, and budget watchdogs warned the city might not be well positioned in the event of an economic downturn.
Andrew Rein, president of the Citizens Budget Commission, warned that de Blasio isnt doing enough to prepare.
"He really presented a stay-the course budget, which is not what you need going into what might be potentially rocky times," Rein said. "When you're headed into the storms, you don't hit autopilot. You manage agressively and prepare for those times. And that is not what we see in this budget."
Nearly all of the Council's budget priorities were left out of the mayor's proposal. Council Speaker Corey Johnson issued a statement saying the Council was disappointed and criticizing the mayor for not growing the city's reserves.
De Blasio's $92.5 billion executive budget proposal will now head to the Council for a second round of hearings. A final agreement must be reached by the end of June.