On Monday, May 7th, the NYC Council Committee on Finance, Chaired by Council Member Danny Dromm, heard from Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Melanie Hartzog whose testimony focused on the FY19 expense budget, the City's overall fiscal picture and the most significant differences between the FY19 executive budget and the FY19 preliminary budget which was released in January 2018, including new investments to better serve NYCHA residents; enhancements to the Dept. of Education’s budget; and increased funding for programming in neighborhoods with high incidents of gun violence. Funding for these efforts were included in the Executive budget in part due the urging of the NYC Council however, despite these updates the Council including Speaker Johnson pressed Hartzog on the importance of including additional funding in the FY19 adopted budget for Council priorities that remain unfunded in the FY19 executive budget.
Among the priorities identified by the Council, funding for a “Fare Fairs” program which would provide subsidized metro cards for low income New Yorkers living below the federal poverty line appears to have emerged as one of the Council’s top concerns for the FY19 budget and we anticipate the Fare Fairs program will continue to play a prominent role in the Council’s ongoing budget negotiations with the Administration. The Council has estimated that it would cost approx. $212 million to fund subsided metro cards for New Yorkers living below the poverty level in FY19 adopted budget and although de Blasio has indicated support for intent of the Fare Fair proposal, the Mayor has indicated an unwillingness to begin this subsidy program without first identifying a dedicated revenue stream to fund reduced price metro cards in FY19 as well as into the future.