New York City’s Spending Spree: $89 Billion Budget Too Big Not To Fail

The proposed $89 billion New York City budget is colossal, in that it risks collapsing under its own weight.

Just how large is the New York City Budget?

  • It’s larger than the budgets of 46 states, including Florida with twice the population
  • It’s 9 times the size of Los Angeles’s budget
  • It’s greater than the full market value of Starbucks.
  • The U.S. Navy operates a fleet across the globe at half the city’s budget.
  • And with more than 330,000 employees, the city’s public workforce is larger than the population of St. Louis.

As we’ve seen with the city’s homeless population, bigger spending has only bought bigger failures. While the homeless shelter population has increased 17.7 percent since 2014—an indictment of the city in and of itself—the city’s spending on the homeless has nearly doubled to more than $2 billion. The city’s homeless program has proven so ineffective that even the city council has challenged Mayor De Blasio’s instincts to throw more money at the problem:

Particularly with regards to homelessness, the council takes serious issue with the elevating level of spending without significant results, in others we believe that goals can be achieved simply by redirecting existing resources towards a better use.

New York City Council’s Response to the Fiscal 2019 Preliminary Budget and Fiscal 2018 Preliminary Mayor’s Management Report. April 10, 2018.

While the Mayor’s budget continues a trend of excess, with city spending up 20 percent in three years, it’s notable for the financial risks it places on the city.

According to the New York City Comptroller, the city will only have $1 billion in cash on hand for December 2018 (compared to $5.4 billion in December 2017). Furthermore (and despite the mayor’s claims to the contrary), the city budget fails to put money into savings despite a substantial one-shot of revenue attached to federal tax reform. At just $1.25 billion, the city’s reserves are just one-third of where they should be. Both the Comptroller and the Council have raised alarms that the city may not be able to pay for its operating costs in the event of an economic downturn.

The City Council is considering the budget this week and may vote on it during their meeting on June 7.