Mayor de Blasio and the City Council reached a deal Friday on the 2018 budget, an $ 85.2 billion spending plan.
Despite the handshake, the hug and the talk of ending the “budget dance” there was a prominent difference of opinion between Hizzoner and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito — on whether to fund legal services for undocumented immigrants convicted of certain crimes who are facing deportation.
The mayor, who announced more than $ 16 million in legal services to represent immigrants facing deportation, has been insistent the money not go to anyone convicted of one of the more than 160 crimes on which the city cooperates with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.
“I think there may be legal services somewhere they deserve, but not with New York City taxpayer dollars,” he said.
The Council, meanwhile, has long funded the New York Family Immigrant Unity Project — which provides legal services for immigrants facing deportation regardless of what their crime.
Mark-Viverito said the Council will spend $ 10 million of its own money to sustain NYFIUP in its current form. De Blasio, who noted he controls the contracting process for such issues, said they had a difference of opinion but had reached an understanding. Mark-Viverito implied the fight was not over.
“I’ll be advocating strongly to maintain it as it is,” she said.
Both sides were able to agree on adding new programs to the budget deal, which is an increase over the $ 84.86 proposal de Blasio made in April — and an even bigger jump over the $ 82.1 billion deal they shook hands on a year ago.
Still, both insisted it was a fiscally responsible deal because of increased savings — including a hiring freeze that de Blasio said would save $ 100 million.
Asked how the budget was fiscally responsible despite its growing size, de Blasio said, “because the reserves continue to not only be strong, but to be growing and because we continue to find greater savings all the time and we’re moving into new areas of savings like the partial hiring freeze.”
That freeze will hit all agencies, he said, with unfilled positions being examined by the Office of Management and Budget to see if they’re needed, proposals for new jobs being vetted by OMB and some hires that are necessary being delayed, the mayor said.
The new spending — including $ 105.53 million in capital funding and $ 1.8 million in expense to expand physical education to all schools by 2021, is something de Blasio said would close “a major gap in our school system.”
The Council, meanwhile, got new money for several of its priorities including $ 23 million to end the waiting list for home care for seniors, $ 25 million to expand a property tax credit for veterans who served in war time, $ 9 million to expand the Summer Youth Employment Program, and a $ 7.2 million increase — that’s a 15 percent hike — in funding for emergency food assistance.
There’s also $ 2.1 million to expand breakfast in city classrooms, $ 10.4 million for free school lunch and $ 110 in capital funds for libraries.