De Blasio Promises Street Improvements, Small Biz Funding, Tourism in $98.6B Budget

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Bill de Blasio released his final budget proposal as mayor of New York City on Monday, putting forth a $98.6 billion plan that included provisions for a $25 million tourism campaign designed to bring visitors back to the city, $100 million in grants for small businesses, and $723 million to complete the Manhattan Greenway waterfront bike and pedestrian lane. 

We are meeting the moment with direct investments in education, small businesses, open space and public health, and we are building up reserves to continue our strong fiscal foundation for the future,” de Blasio said in a statement. 

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The $25 million in capital funding for NYC & Co., the city’s marketing arm, far exceeds the city’s typical yearly tourism advertising budget of $3 million, The Wall Street Journal reported last week. The Big Apple has funded much of its economic expansion over the past 20 years with tourism dollars, largely with taxes on retail stores, hotels, restaurants, Broadway performances, and other businesses that rely on foreign and domestic visitors. In 2019, a record 66 million people visited New York City, before international travel bans and a dramatic drop in domestic travel decimated the city’s tourism numbers during the pandemic.

The city also set aside a significant chunk of change to help struggling small businesses, which have been closing in unprecedented numbers across the city since the pandemic began last year. The proposal includes $100 million in rental assistance grants for small businesses in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, $30 million in low interest loans for small businesses affected by the pandemic, and $5 million for commercial legal lease assistance in underserved neighborhoods. 

The budget also calls for $723 million in capital funding to complete the Manhattan Greenway, particularly on the East Side near the United Nations and the Queensboro Bridge. Other street safety items include $4 million for the organizations running the Open Streets programs, $2 million for the Brooklyn Bridge bike lane and “Bike Boulevards,” and $5 million for the Queensboro Bridge bike lane. 

On the development front, the budget includes $300 million to expand life sciences laboratory space in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan’s West Side. 

In an effort to bring back sanitation programs that were cut during the pandemic, the proposal has $234 million for a “City Cleanup Corps” dedicated to cleaning up city streets, $33 million to resume and expand the organics recycling program, and $9 million to restore litter basket collection service.