NYC Council Votes To Adopt $78.5 Billion Budget

NEW YORK (AP/Hamodia) -

The New York City Council voted Friday to adopt the $78.5 billion budget agreement, moving to expand services for the less fortunate and begin expanding the nation’s largest police force.

By a vote of 46-1 with one abstention and two absences, the 2016 budget passed and will go into effect Wednesday. At the centerpiece of the deal, brokered by the staffs of Mayor Bill de Blasio and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, was the surprising decision to hire 1,300 police officers.

Some liberal councilmembers voiced complaints about the additional officers, but only one — Inez Barron of Brooklyn — voted against the proposal and the vote proceedings lacked the political theatrics that have marked previous budget votes.

The budget deal was a clear win for Mark-Viverito, who has shaken off early concerns she would not challenge de Blasio, a longtime ally. Beyond the police hires, several of her other proposals were adopted, including the creation of a $1.4 million bail fund for those charged with low level offenses.

She presided over the proceedings, noting that the vote, usually a late night affair, had taken place while the sun still shone Friday afternoon.

“It is daytime,” said Mark-Viverito, who drew a sharp contrast with how the state budget was brokered in leadership meetings behind closed doors. “There were no ‘three men in the room’ here. Three women of color negotiated this budget. It is an inclusive and democratic City Council.”

The budget, up from $75 billion a year ago, also includes $17 million for Priority 5 afterschool vouchers which benefit many Orthodox families. That is the highest amount ever, and fulfills a campaign promise by de Blasio to restore the funds cut by his predecessor. Of the total, $12.6 million was baselined, meaning that it is part of the budget and will not have to be fought over every year.