New York Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio named Dean Fuleihan, a former fiscal adviser to state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, as director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Fuleihan, 62, will oversee a $70 billion spending plan and face the immediate challenge of trying to find a way to pay raises to 300,000 municipal employees whose contracts have expired. He replaces Mark Page, who served under Mayor Michael Bloomberg for 12 years.
The new budget chief served more than 30 years in state government, including 16 as a policy aide to Silver, a Democrat. He was also secretary to the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, where he was chief staff negotiator for New York’s $130 billion budget.
“During the hardest of times, when we had a Republican governor and state senate determined to leave New York City’s most vulnerable to fend for themselves, Dean Fuleihan stood his ground,” de Blasio, a 52-year-old Democrat, said in a statement. “Dean is a true progressive who understands not only our limits, but our possibilities. He will ensure our priorities live up to both our responsibilities and our values.”
After leaving government in 2011, Fuleihan joined the State University of New York’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering as executive director for strategic partnerships, according to a biography on the college’s website. The college says it’s the first in the world dedicated to nanoscience and nanotechnology, or the manipulation of matter on an atomic molecular scale.
As the first Democrat to run the biggest U.S. city in 20 years, de Blasio will be challenged to pay for his programs while taming health-care and debt costs and maintaining the city’s AA credit rating from Standard & Poor’s, higher than those of Los Angeles and Chicago.
Retroactive raises for city workers, some of whom haven’t gotten one since 2009, could run as high as $8 billion.
A budget director with ties to the legislature may help de Blasio, who will have get lawmakers’ approval for his signature campaign proposal, providing universal early childhood education funded by a tax increase on the city’s top earners.
Fuleihan received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Alfred University and studied public finance at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.
The current mayor is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.
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