I forget -what makes this guy a Republican, again?
-------------------------------------------------------------Under Bloomberg, Budget and Revenues SwellBy DIANE CARDWELL
Published: September 17, 2007
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has promoted himself as a model of fiscal restraint, issuing dire warnings about the slowing economy, recently asking agencies to limit hiring, and even listing “fiscal responsibility” as an interest on his MySpace page.
At the same time, a review of the city’s budget since 1980 shows that Mr. Bloomberg has been presiding over one of the greatest expansions of city government since the John V. Lindsay administration, fueled by an extraordinary surge in real estate revenues, both from higher property taxes and transfer taxes from sales.
Since Mr. Bloomberg took office in 2002, the city budget, adjusted for inflation, has swelled faster than it has under any other mayor during the last 27 years, increasing by 23 percent, to $60 billion.
By contrast, spending rose 8 percent during Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani’s eight years, and 4 percent under Mayor David N. Dinkins, who served one four-year term. Mr. Bloomberg’s spending also outpaced that of Mayor Edward I. Koch, who increased the budget by 19 percent over his last two terms.
No one is predicting a collapse of the city’s fiscal stability as a result of the increased spending, and Mr. Bloomberg, who is scheduled to speak about economic policy to Britain’s Conservative Party at the end of the month, generally receives high marks for his stewardship of the budget.
But some worry that New York, along with other cities where the real estate market has been hot, is ill-prepared to grapple with a downturn, having grown accustomed to booming revenues from flush times.
According to the mayor’s Office of Management and Budget, approximately 75 percent of the growth under Mr. Bloomberg has been driven by expenses that are difficult to control, like employee health care costs and benefits, pension payments and Medicaid.
But Mr. Bloomberg, who declined to be interviewed for this article, has also significantly increased more discretionary accounts, reflecting his emphasis on quality-of-life issues and his desire to make New York attractive to people and businesses. Spending on parks, often one of the first areas to lose money in lean times, jumped 27 percent over his tenure, to $298 million, for example. The budget at Information Technology has almost tripled to $157 million, largely due to establishing the city’s popular 311 service hot line and to upgrading other technology systems.
Spending on schools jumped 14 percent, to $16 billion, driven by a 40 percent increase in teacher salaries favored by Mr. Bloomberg, among other expenses.