Hevesi Versus McCall

Two Comptrollers Take Wildly Divergent Positions on Rudy’s Fiscal Follies

McCall's current report emphasizes a laundry list of Giuliani fiscal follies that get less attention from Hevesi: Spending grew 5.2 percent—twice the inflation rate—from 1997 to 2000. It will grow 9.6 percent this year. The city has added almost 25,000 employees since 1997, raising the workforce to the highest in history, thousands more than when Giuliani took office. The mayor's plan now calls for $1.3 billion in agency cuts over the coming years—the equivalent of 20,000 positions—and actually recommends a reduction of 1200 cops.

In biting language that has no equal in the Hevesi report, the state comptroller concludes: "In any event, the City will have little choice but to cut spending to balance the budget. That could involve difficult choices, since most of the budget is devoted to core municipal services such as public safety and education."

Both the McCall and Hevesi reports hammer the skyrocketing increases in capital-construction spending by Giuliani, with Hevesi noting that the city is spending 90 percent more now than it did last year. They also question Giuliani's reliance on uncertain one-shot revenues like the Off-Track Betting Corporation sale, as well as his insistence on a labor set-aside that only covers the cost of two-year contracts when the current agreements are for five years.

But Hevesi is the most muted of the fiscal watchdogs, with little bark or bite. He once wooed Giuliani, and is still a favorite of such Giuliani champions as Randy Mastro, Bruce Teitelbaum, and Ray Harding. He knows that Giuliani's budgetary record, despite the Wall Street boom that hiked the city's bond rating, is a threat to his own potential mayoralty, yet he reviews it with such a flair for understatement that he gets no press. His passivity may have no political motive, but it does have a political consequence.

Unless Alan Hevesi challenges Giuliani's policy, it may be assumed he will continue it.

Research: Robbie Chaplick, Jesse Goldstein, Laurence Pantin, and Theodore Ross

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