Mayor Bill de Blasio says the only way to avoid 22,000 layoffs this fall is to allow City Hall to borrow billions of dollars. But state lawmakers and the governor have to be on board, and so far they've been cool to the idea.
But now the mayor is getting support from the City Council in the form of a resolution.
“I think that New York City deserves the authority to borrow funds to meet our immediate needs given the impact of COVID-19 on our revenue," said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. "We had a $9 billion budget hole.”
The resolution was introduced Thursday, but likely will not be voted on until next month. It’s non-binding, and also different than what's called a home rule message, which is often required before the state passes legislation affecting a municipality.
“This is a resolution to show that the Council is supportive of this, and hopefully it gives Assembly members and state senators a reason to move forward,” added Johnson.
Critics say borrowing will only saddle future generations with debt.
“New York City should not borrow now. It should be a last resort. And we are not at that place," said Andrew Rein of the Citizens Budget Commission. "The reason borrowing should be a last resort is because it pushes costs into the future.”
State leaders say there are still a lot of variables at stake before they sign off on a borrowing plan, including an approach that could include both tax hikes and spending cuts.
“Clearly the layoffs, we should look to avoid those. Outside of that, I think we should see what the global picture looks like so we can see what the entire state needs in terms of borrowing or another measure that makes sense, like added revenue," said Democratic State Sen. Brian Benjamin of Manhattan. "That should be comprehensively done, not done in a one-off fashion.”
While it is now apparent that there will be no rescue package from the federal government anytime soon, there are some who believe a Joe Biden victory this fall could change the landscape in Washington. And while that wouldn’t happen quickly, the thought is the city should try and tread water until then, when they know for sure who will be in charge.
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