The Daily Q: Do weeks of City Council budget hearings make a difference?

Yesterday the City Council held its first in its annual series of hearings about the preliminary budget for New York City. These meetings are a chance for council members to question agency heads and allow community members to comment. While the Mayor is ultimately the one who approves the city’s budget, he needs the support of the City Council to do so.

We want to know: What kind of impact do the City Council hearings ultimately have on the city budget?

If you have information or insights to share, please comment below, write us, or tweet to @thenyworld.

What we found

Like most of the government processes in New York City, the answer to this Daily Q can be boiled down to two words: it’s complicated.

“It depends on a whole host of factors, from economics and fiscal context to the political context,” said Maria Doulis, director of city studies at the Citizens Budget Commission.

While most of the power of the budget lies with the mayor, the hearings are the primary place in the process for public discussion. In some instances, the council is successful at leveraging its criticism. Last year, Doulis said the debate was about teacher layoffs, linked to a loss of state aid. The council and teacher’s union opposed this measure and ultimately it was removed from the budget.

Doulis said the context this year is different. One major point of concern is the proposed cut of thousands of child-care slots. She said with no major surplus revenue, it’s harder to change the existing budget proposal.

“If you want to put something back in the budget, you have to come up with a revenue source,” she said.

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