Brigid Bergin is the City Hall reporter for WNYC. She covers city politics including the 2013 mayoral race and transition.
The City Council approved an on-time, balanced budget of $68.5 billion on Thursday – and flexed its legislative muscle in overriding the mayor’s veto of two laws aimed at low-wage workers and the city’s banking sector.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Speaker Christine Quinn announced their handshake agreement last Monday, which restored funding for fire companies and child-care programs.
But the Council overrode the mayor’s veto of the so-called “living wage” bill, which requires companies that get city subsidies to pay their employees at least $10 an hour plus benefits, or $11.50 an hour.
The Bloomberg administration has consistently opposed this legislation saying it threatens the city’s economic future.
“The so-called living and prevailing wage bills – are a throwback to the era when government viewed the private sector as a cash cow to be milked, rather than a garden to be cultivated,” Bloomberg said when vetoing the two wage bills in April.
The override gives Quinn a platform to further distinguish her leadership priorities – and what she might champion as a Mayoral candidate for the post-Bloomberg era.
The other bill the Council overrode, the Responsible Banking Act, requires banks that seek to hold city deposits to provide local data on their lending, investment and services and establishes a public hearing process to assess banks’ strengths and weaknesses.
The aim of the legislation is to force banks to meet the credit needs of consumers and communities, particularly in areas that have been hard hit by the foreclosure crisis.
The Council is also approved a new historic district on the Upper West Side spanning 79th to 87th streets and from Broadway to the Hudson River. West of West End Avenue, the district will keep its earlier northern boundary of roughly 95th street. The new designation was approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday adding another 190 buildings to the existing district.