Gov. Andrew Cuomo engaged in a little fat shaming Wednesday — over New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s bloated city budget.
Asked about de Blasio’s announcement earlier in the day of one-week staff furloughs including himself and his oft-repeated threat of widespread municipal layoffs to shore up the Big Apple’s balance sheet, Cuomo said there’s “a lot of waste” in the Big Apple’s budget.
“I’m saying layoffs are the last thing you want to do. They’re the last option, especially in New York City where you have so many problems. We have a homeless problem. We have a crime problem. The city is dirty,” said Cuomo, landing several punches at his downstate rival’s expense.
“Layoffs are the last option, but in a $90 billion budget that the city has, I’m sure there’s a lot of waste that you can find and that’s what you would need to do before you would go to borrow or lay off anyone.”
De Blasio and the City Council inked a 2021 budget deal that pared-back city spending from an expected $95 billion to $88 billion — including controversial cuts to the NYPD, as well as the Parks and Sanitation departments.
That package included $1 billion in unspecified labor savings — and with union negotiations seemingly going nowhere, Hizzoner has warned that 22,000 municipal employees may get pink slips unless he gets federal aid or state permission to borrow.
Independent government watchdogs say there is something to Cuomo’s critique, arguing that de Blasio focused too deeply on cutting program expenses while failing to tackle the city’s structural costs.
“We have a major multi-year fiscal crisis, the mayor has talked about borrowing and layoffs when he has other options and he needs to exercise those other options,” said Andrew Rein, president of the Citizens Budget Commission.
Rein’s CBC published an analysis that shows the city could easily find $1 billion in savings from trimming the city’s generous employee healthcare programs, consolidate fringe benefits administered by each union and tweaking decades-old work rules.
“He needs to work with his commissioners to have efficiencies to downsize the workforce over time,” Rein added. “They adopted a balanced budget this year and then the mayor came back two months later saying we did not achieve what we promised — and we have a bigger problem next year.”
Cuomo did not mention his own financial predicament as Albany faces a projected $30 billion budget hole over the next two years.
The state Division of Budget said in August that local governments could see state funding for health, education and other key services slashed by as much as 20 percent unless federal aid arrives.
The budget passed by state lawmakers during the spring gave Cuomo significant authority to borrow as much as $11 billion and make unilateral cuts to state programs as the coronavirus pandemic erupted.
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