The City’s $90 billion budget dwarfs that of most states. As the City’s Chief Financial Officer, the Comptroller monitors the budget and fiscal health.
As Speaker of the City Council, Corey Johnson delivered on-time and balanced budgets three years in a row and managed a staff of nearly 900, including a team of financial analysts and economists. During the COVID-19 crisis, Corey led the City Council through one of the worst budget crises in our history and preserved millions in funding for critical City services and support for the most vulnerable New Yorkers. Corey can hit the ground running to ensure that every dollar in the City’s budget is being used effectively. As the City continues to cope with the devastating effects of COVID-19, we need an experienced manager as Comptroller. There’s no time for a learning curve.
The Comptroller is responsible for conducting independent audits of City agencies.
Under Corey’s leadership, the Council created a new Oversight & Investigations division and conducted hundreds of oversight hearings into every facet of New York governance. The Council exposed NYCHA’s failure to provide heat and hot water to nearly 80% of its residents, revealed stark disparities in remote learning that left Black and brown students with low levels of engagement, and audited the MTA’s finances and structure as part of a proposal to take back control of the subway.
Corey would use the office’s subpoena powers to ensure that agencies fully comply with audits and that New Yorkers get the answers they deserve. Corey will prioritize audits of agencies with the greatest direct impact on New Yorkers to ensure that services are delivered equitably, tax dollars are well-used, and programs reach all New Yorkers.
I know New York City will bounce back from COVID-19. But we need to make sure that we’re doing all we can to support those impacted the most.
We have a social and financial opportunity to invest in the hardest hit communities in a way that helps them rebound from the pandemic while at the same time allowing our pension funds to earn a good rate of return from the resulting economic upswing.
One of the most powerful tools for change at the Comptroller’s office is Economically Targeted Investments. ETIs support goals like increasing affordable housing and building a resilient future, but we should also use them to invest in MWBEs and our small businesses. Small businesses are truly the backbone of our communities. They enliven our neighborhoods and make them feel like home. They’re also an excellent opportunity for communities of color to help build wealth. As Comptroller, Corey will prioritize small businesses and invest in our communities.
The Comptroller is the custodian of the City’s five pension funds, worth nearly $240 billion, and advises each of these funds on the best way to invest their money.
We have to protect the pension funds so that retirees know their hard-earned benefits will always be there. But it’s also about protecting your bottom line. If the pension funds don’t earn enough money to cover their expenses, all taxpayers are on the hook. Next year, we’re expected to spend over $10 billion of our budget to make up the difference. We can’t afford to turn to property tax raises or service cuts if that gap continues to grow.
For the good of City workers and every single resident of the City, we need to focus on maximizing returns. A big part of that will be cutting down on the exorbitant fees we pay to Wall Street to manage our investments. We’re paying billions of dollars to hedge funds and financial advisors to beat the market, but the market is beating us consistently. We paid $800 million in fees last year, and we’ve paid about $5.5 billion in the last eight years. That’s far more than we would have paid if we put our money in an S&P 500 index fund, and the index fund has gotten better returns.
That’s got to change. Corey will work with the City’s five pension boards to identify best practices that can improve our returns and avoid spending millions of dollars of fees each year. Because, instead of sending that money off to Wall Street every year, we should be spending it on affordable housing, on schools, on mental health programs, on projects that will create jobs and economic opportunities in neighborhoods that have been sorely neglected.