The New York city council yesterday broadly accepted the fiscal agenda of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, passing a $31.6 billion budget for fiscal 1995.
The council voted in favor of the controversial spending phn 43 to 8. The plan includes small tax cuts for businesses, and job cuts totaling 15,000, to close a $2.3 billion gap in fiscal 1995, which begins July 1.
These moves, Giuliani argued, are needed to attract business to the city and promote fiscal stability, but several council members said the cuts disproportionately hurt poor and working poor NeW Yorkers.
For the most part, Wall Street bond analysts lauded the plan's attempt to shrink the city's massive workforce, despite concerns over the use of one-shots, refundings, and other gimmicks.
"Any downsizing in government, especially in New York, has got to be a good thing in the long term," said Michael Shamosh, a municipal market strategist for Cowen & Co.
Michael Brooks, senior municipal credit analyst for Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., also approves of the general direction of the budget, but said the spending plan contains many questionable revenue raisers, such as a massive bond refunding, planned health insurance savings, and ton reform.
"There's a lot of things built into this budget that sound good," Brooks said. "But it's a lot easier to say these things than do them."
Another question many analysts have is the new budget's impact on the city's bond rating. Last summer, Standard & Poor's Corp. threatened to downgrade city bonds from theft current rating of A-minus, but did not following pressure from former Mayor David N. Dinkins and former comptroller Elizabeth Holtzman, and promises of fiscal reform.
Most private analysts say the city's fiscal circumstances should place its bonds at the BBB-plus level, equal to Moody's Baal rating of the city's debt.
But in recent months, analysts from Standard & Poor's said the city would maintain its rating if Giuliani's budget cuts went through. Richard Larkin, a managing director at Standard & Poor's, could not be reached for comment on how the budget's final outcome affects the city's bond rating.