Sunday, June 16, 2013
Whoever we vote for, the city is screwed
From City Journal:
Listening to some of the candidates to succeed Mayor Michael Bloomberg, you’d think that New York City’s biggest challenge was how to spend billions of dollars in spare revenue. Bill Thompson wants to put 2,000 extra cops on the street at a cost of $200 million a year. One of his rivals, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, pledges to introduce universal pre-K in the city’s schools, a project with a $530 million annual price tag. Thompson, de Blasio, and another candidate, New York City comptroller John Liu, want to build at least 60,000 units of new subsidized housing over the next four years. The bill for that could dwarf the cost of the police and school proposals.
But no matter how big the spending dreams of the city’s would-be mayors, one of them is going to wake up to a fiscal nightmare in November. New York’s budget has grown hugely over Mayor Bloomberg’s 12 years in office, and it may finally have outstripped the Wall Street–generated tax revenues that have made such profligacy possible. The next mayor won’t have the luxury of expanding the government; instead, he’ll have to figure out how to pay for one that’s already dangerously bloated.
If Bloomberg’s goal was soaking up revenue and leaving his successor as little to spend as possible, he seems to have pulled it off. Spending from city revenues rose from $28.9 billion when Bloomberg took office to $47.5 billion in fiscal year 2012 and will be an estimated $50.2 billion in 2013—a staggering 70 percent increase per resident. Inflation rose only 29 percent over the same period. Had Bloomberg held Gotham’s budget increase to the growth rates of inflation and population, the city would currently be spending $12 billion less a year.