“We’re able to make all of those commitments as a result of years of fiscal care, foresight and a constructive partnership with the City Council, as we began setting aside savings and reducing spending well before most other city and state governments heeded the economic storm warnings,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “But they’re also the result of our efforts to diversify the City’s economy. In the not-so-distant past, a drop like the one we saw this year in Wall Street profits would have been a debilitating blow, but the hard work we’ve done to diversify our economy has done a lot to offset its effects. Our efforts in the tech, TV and film, tourism and higher education sectors are producing results, with private employment now at its highest level ever in the city, exceeding the record set back in 1969, and we expect this growth in private sector jobs to continue.”
And even before Mr. Bloomberg had laid out his budget to reporters today, those you want his job starting in 2014 went on the decry it for harsh cuts to social services.
Every budget is about choices, and behind every line item are real New Yorkers with real needs. The proposed cuts in daycare and after-school programs just underscore how out of touch this budget proposal is with the daily struggles of middle class and working families. These are dollars that allow parents to go to work and pay taxes; cutting them will only force more families to seek public assistance and add to taxpayer costs.
“We should stop this phony budget dance and stop treating working families as pawns in this annual charade,” said Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer. “We should continue to root out waste, fraud and abuse on outsourced contracts, and we must stop balancing the ledger on the backs of New York City’s working families.”
John Liu, who had his own private briefing with Mayor Bloomberg this morning, called attention to the agreements with outside contractors and suggested Mayor Bloomberg seek to cut waste from the government.
“In this challenging economic environment one of the best ways to maintain critical services for New Yorkers like daycare, fire protection, and libraries is to strengthen our fight against the waste of taxpayer funds and wasted subsidies to large corporations.”
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio says that the budget will backfire in the longrun.
“New York will pay the price for shortsighted budget decisions long after the Mayor leaves office,” he said. “The disinvestment in childcare and after-school programs proposed by Mayor Bloomberg will hurt thousands of working families. For 47,000 vulnerable children, these cuts mean lost opportunities and a longer, harder road to the middle class. We know these programs work, and we know the social and economic costs of cutting them. Every dollar we invest in early education saves $13 in the long-run. The Mayor is handing down a hefty bill that will come due in future budgets and future generations. After four years of deep cuts, we simply cannot allow any further eroding of our City’s early childhood education system.”
And Council Speaker Christine Quinn too says she has concerns about the budget, but she mixes in high praise for the mayor’s approach.
I am pleased to see that despite the halting economic recovery, the Executive Budget addresses several important Council priorities raised in our response to the Preliminary Budget. Specifically, we saved nearly 2,600 classroom teachers, and I am thrilled that the Department of Education has been funded at a level that avoids any further reduction in teachers. This response to our call keeps school budgets whole and prevents classroom sizes from rising further, which is a critical priority that we are happy to see is shared by the Administration and reflected in the Executive Budget.
“However, I am deeply concerned about cuts to childcare programs. Two major programs, EarlyLearn and Out-of-School Time (OST), have suffered unacceptable cuts and are being implemented in ways that create tremendous disruptions for families, communities, and providers. The EarlyLearn program, as presently funded in this Executive Budget, reduces overall childcare capacity by 8,200 seats and cuts funding to areas of the City with significant high-needs populations. Many working families will no longer have access to low-cost, quality childcare.
The Executive Budget also leaves 20 fire companies on the chopping block, needlessly endangering our city’s public safety.
“Let me be clear – although I am grateful for the progress we’ve seen in the Mayor’s Executive Budget, I still have deep concerns about how the remaining cuts will impact the lives of working New Yorkers and their families.
“As we always have, the Council will work in the coming weeks to ensure the adoption of a budget for fiscal year 2013 that protects the most vulnerable, ensures public safety, and provides all of our citizens with the kind of City in which they can flourish.”
But Kathy Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City, approves of the budget and wants Mayor Bloomberg and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to continue to push for mandate relief.
“Continued fiscal restraint by the City has allowed for expanded investment in our public school system, without raising taxes, but more can be done if mandate reform is made a top priority,” she said. “State and federal mandates continue to eat up resources that the City needs to maintain essential services. Reducing some of the City’s non-discretionary costs would make additional expansions of public services possible. Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg’s efforts to pursue mandate relief are vital to relieving some of the fiscal burden on the City and allow for further investment in vital City services like education.”
The budget reduces city controllable expenditures by $110 million while adding $300 million in education spending, money that will only be realized in the City and the United Federation of Teachers agree on a teacher evaluation system that meets State and federal requirements. The budget also increases the five year capital plan by $800 million.