As our city looks toward the end of COVID-19, beyond overcoming the public health crisis we’ve been facing, we will have to overcome a fiscal crisis. Unfortunately, the economic damage caused by the Coronavirus pandemic is greater than 2008 recession, the post-9/11 recession and the 1975 fiscal crisis combined. Simply said, it is critical for us to build back better — implementing bold, creative solutions that will get New York City back on track.
However, it is even more critical that in rebuilding our economy, we do everything we can to protect hardworking New Yorkers. That is why David Weprin is running to be our next Comptroller: To ensure that the city budget is not balanced on the backs of middle-class New Yorkers, because it’s about time someone stood up for us.
David Weprin is the only candidate running for New York City Comptroller with the experience we need in our city’s Chief Financial Officer and Fiscal Watchdog. From balancing the City’s budget as Chair of the City Council’s Finance Committee, to spending years working in municipal finance where he funded critical infrastructure projects, public schools and the programs and services we’ve come to rely on, David is the only candidate who can get our city back on track. And he knows how to use the power of the Comptroller’s Office and the $247 Billion in pension funds to deliver meaningful results for New Yorkers.
We all know that New York City has becoming increasingly unlivable for working and middle-class New Yorkers. It’s simple. You shouldn’t have to work on Wall Street to be able to afford your rent or mortgage payment. And for too long, politicians have promised more affordable housing, only to come up short on providing enough homes that are truly affordable to New Yorkers. That’s why we must be bold in addressing the affordable housing crisis.
As Comptroller, David Weprin will use a key tool in the fight to build affordable housing for middle-class families: The city’s own pension portfolio through the existing Economically Targeted Investments Program. Using our $247 billion pension funds, we can partner with the private sector to incentivize middle-class affordable housing construction, creating much needed housing, thousands of jobs, and a strong rate of return on the city’s investment. Guaranteeing the financial health of this affordable housing construction will unleash untold potential, allowing the city to build the affordable housing we need across the five boroughs. Put simply, no firefighter, police officer, teacher, retail worker or any New Yorker who works hard and contributes to the wellbeing of our communities should be priced out of our great city.
Moreover, making the city more affordable for middle-class families will be profitable for New York. The more people who can afford to live in New York City without struggling to pay their rent, the more they have to spend on groceries, entertainment, retail and everything else. The money multiplier will be massive, and the City will benefit economically.
No program regarding increasing, improving and maintaining affordable, livable housing would be complete without a long-term mechanism in place to properly audit NYCHA. With too many NYCHA buildings plagued by inadequate structural repairs, mold, and very infamously, lead paint, David will ensure a thorough and continuous auditing and investigating of NYCHA to ensure the health and safety of residents and the proper use of our tax dollars, potentially saving lives, as well as millions of dollars in the process.
Fully funding our kids’ classrooms is a no-brainer. What requires vision is ensuring that our kids’ classrooms are properly equipped to prepare them for the 21st Century. Too many families across New York City don’t have access to computers or Broadband at home. This makes it even more critical for our schools to have the cutting-edge technology our children need to succeed.
David will dedicate the audit and investigative powers of the Comptroller’s Office to ensuring that the Department of Education is properly spending our tax dollars to give our kids the best possible education. We’ve heard too many stories of bloated administrative budgets, outside consultant sweetheart do-nothing contracts and dollars that don’t trickle down to the classroom. Every classroom in New York City must be equipped with the tools our kids need to succeed. An educated city is a successful, healthy city. Period.
Moreover, our city has not done enough to fix the still very real issue of school segregation. If we ever have a chance at improving the socioeconomic divisions that are our reality, we must fight to make sure our schools reflect the true diversity of our great city. It’s in our kids’ schools where the building blocks for realizing this goal will be achieved.
The threat of climate change has been known to us for decades now. Yet, it has only been in the past few years that our city has really begun to implement policies aimed at reducing the negative effects of climate change on New Yorkers. As Comptroller, David will aggressively push to incentivize renewable energy, weatherize buildings, and enhance sustainability measures on our coastlines in communities like Lower Manhattan, the East Shore of Staten Island, the Rockaways and South Brooklyn.
But the Comptroller of the City of New York has a national footprint as well. The power to fight for a cleaner, greener climate doesn’t have to end at the city’s borders. With the power that comes along with the $247 billion pension portfolio, the Comptroller has the ability to influence corporations around the world in furtherance of a green agenda to combat climate change.
As Comptroller, David will use this influence to the fullest extent possible to ensure that companies in which the City of New York pension portfolio holds stock adhere to policies that support green energy, resiliency, and environmental justice. After all, this isn’t just affecting our lives, nor our children’s. If we don’t do enough now, the issue of climate change will affect our children’s children for years to come.
Throughout David’s career in public service, he has always fought to help the generations of New Yorkers who made our city what it is today: the greatest city on earth.
David’s record of protecting seniors is among the most prolific in the city. From sponsoring legislation to keep rents for seniors low and calling for an increase in benefits in the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption Program, to fighting for more affordable prescription medication and funding Access-A-Ride, enabling the elderly and individuals with impaired abilities to safely get around the city, David has always had the interests of seniors at heart.
In fact, it is his 90 year old mother, Sylvia, a Cuban immigrant who emigrated to the United States when she was 8 years old who later in life taught high school Spanish and biology, who inspired David to run for Comptroller. When David sees the millions of New Yorkers – immigrants, teachers, middle class families, retirees – he sees his mother. A retiree and an educator who would not be able to live a life of dignity if it were not for her New York City Teachers pension. This fact is not lost on David, and as our Comptroller David will fight tooth and nail to protect our retirees and pensioners, no matter the fiscal situation in which the city may find itself.
Put simply, a key reason David is running for Comptroller is to protect our pensioners and the rate of return on our pension funds. Whether you are a public school teacher, firefighter, police officer, or sanitation worker, David will promise that your dignity and retirement security is paramount.
In keeping with David’s lifelong fight to make New York a more affordable city for all New Yorkers to live, work and raise a family, David knows the affordability challenges presented by living in New York particularly affect New Yorkers living on fixed incomes.
As our Comptroller, David will make sure that no senior ever has to choose between paying their rent, buying groceries or affording their medication. In New York City in the year 2020 it is disgraceful that anyone has to make that decision. David will use the power of the New York City pension funds to persuade pharmaceutical companies – of which the City owns hundreds of millions of dollars in stock – to make their prescription medication more affordable. In conjunction with David’s plans to use the Comptroller’s Office to encourage the construction of more affordable housing – including senior affordable housing – David will put the issue of affordability front and center of his administration’s agenda.
Even before the pandemic, our city’s mass transit system was in disarray. Years of poor management, bloated bureaucracy and finger pointing plagued the MTA. As the City’s main form of public transit, it is critical that the MTA get its fiscal house in order so it can get back to what it is supposed to do: move New Yorkers.
Moreover, even a well-financed MTA needs to do more. Too many parts of our city are transportation deserts with no convenient or reliable access to public transit. And as a Council Member, then Assembly Member, representing Eastern Queens, David knows this firsthand. Further, with the impending phase-in of congestion pricing, New Yorkers living in the boroughs who commute to the city by car will desperately need better public transit so they have the same opportunities to earn a living as everyone else without getting hit hard in the wallet, particularly during COVID-19 when many people are hesitant to use public transit. David was one of the leading opponents of a congestion pricing system that would unfairly burden outer borough residents.
David knows that from Whitestone to Westerleigh, Mill Basin to Middle Village and Throgs Neck to Bergen Beach, our city’s mass transit system needs to be enhanced, improved and increased. As Comptroller, David will make a fully functioning public transit system a priority and will use the auditing powers of the Comptroller’s Office, in coordination with the State Comptroller, to hold the MTA accountable.
Small businesses make up the backbone of our city. They employ millions of New Yorkers and contribute to the character and diversity of our neighborhoods. Knowing that small businesses are vital for immigrants and middle-class families, throughout his career, David has worked to ensure our small businesses can thrive.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, David was one of the most vocal elected officials in New York City to call for the partial reopening of indoor dining, in order to help save the small and independent local restaurants that make up the lifeblood of our neighborhoods. The very next day after David pushed for the partial reopening, restaurants were able to resume indoor service.
As Comptroller, David will organize a Red-Tape Reduction Commission to eliminate the endless fees, fines and regulations stifling small businesses. These businesses need our help more than ever given the economic fallout of the pandemic. Our city government should be helping these businesses grow and succeed, not stifling them.
Immigrants are the lifeblood of New York City. As a Council Member and Assembly Member representing Queens, the most diverse county in the country, David knows firsthand how truly wonderful the power of diversity is. The merging of cultures, languages, cuisines and religions is what makes New York City so unique and has been a major key to our city’s success over the years.
Unfortunately, too many ethnic and racial minorities are locked out of economic opportunity. From communities that are underserved by banks with no access to financing and capital, to groups of people who have typically been left out of government contracting, David recognizes that the Comptroller’s Office can be doing so much more to improve this situation.
As Comptroller, David will establish a New American, Diversity & Inclusion Task Force that will examine and correct the shortcomings regarding access to capital and financial services for underserved communities, improve contracting opportunities for Minority and Women Owned Businesses, and enhance the ability of immigrants to build careers and businesses by opening up opportunities and eliminating roadblocks to success.
As New York City’s top fiscal watchdog, David Weprin will make it a priority to safeguard our hard-earned tax dollars and ensure that they are used for the programs and services we need. Our tax dollars should strengthen our schools, improve our public transit and enhance our quality of life, not be spent on bloated administrative budgets, unnecessary and redundant bureaucracy or programs that don’t help New Yorkers.
David’s Fiscal Watchdog Plan will save the city tens of millions of dollars annually, enabling us to reduce the fees and fines burden on small businesses, lower the property tax burden for homeowners, and allocate these funds to better uses that help all New Yorkers.