NEW YORK—Mayor Michael Bloomberg cut to the chase in Albany on Monday. He testified in front of the state Legislature, saying that the budget Governor David Paterson proposed last week would cut $1.3 billion in funds for New York City and cut 19,000 jobs.
The governor's proposal “utterly fails the test of fairness,” said Bloomberg. “And that is why I am here this morning—to tell you that the people of New York are counting on you in the Legislature to help create a budget that is both responsible and equitable.”
One of the main points addressed in Paterson's $134 billion proposal is for the state to close a $7.4 billion budget gap. Among other cuts to education, health care, and state agencies, the proposal also raises taxes on cigarettes and sugary drinks. The budget still faces revision in state Legislature, which must give it approval.
Over 10,000 public workers and over 8,500 teachers will be cut from the workforce if Paterson's budget proposal is signed into law by the Legislature, said Bloomberg. Approximately $500 million would be cut from the city's education plan under the governor's proposal.
Among the public workers, approximately 3,150 police officers will be laid off “reducing the NYPD’s operational strength to 1985 levels,” said Bloomberg.
Around 1,050 firefighters would be laid off, causing the close of firehouses and 900 correctional workers in jails and prisons would be laid off “which is only possible if we simultaneously reduce our daily inmate population by almost 1,900 prisoners,” said the mayor.
Other than personnel cuts, the city would cut garbage can pickups by about half and curbside garbage pickup would be reduced by about a third due to the cuts. Overall, funding for the city's various agencies other than education would be reduced by $656 million.
“Not only does the budget impose new mandates without real mandate relief. And not only does it impose unfair burdens on city agencies compared to those placed on state agencies,” said Bloomberg. “It also eliminates—let me say that again, eliminates—state revenue sharing for New York City, and New York City alone.”
New York City produces approximately half of all revenues for the state, but would not get a proportionate amount of funding from the state. The state and the city depend heavily on taxes generated from Wall Street revenues, which suffered heavily during the recent financial downturn.
Bloomberg touched on free student MetroCards, which the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is planning to phase out. The governor's budget proposal would mean a significant cut to the funds that could keep the free student MetroCard system afloat.
“We’re disappointed that full funding for student MetroCards has not been restored in the executive budget, as the governor promised it would,” said Bloomberg.
“For years, the city, state, and MTA had an agreement to fund student MetroCards,” the mayor said. “This year, the state has dramatically cut its share of the funding, which could force children and their families to pay thousands of dollars a year in school transportation costs.”
On the topic of education, the mayor also called for legislators to lift the cap on charter schools, saying that around 36,000 school children in New York City are waiting for “firstrate education.”
On Tuesday, New York City's Panel for Educational Policy will vote to close around 20 schools around New York City. Bloomberg added that 500 workers will be cut from the city parks system, 500 soup kitchens will be closed, and 15 senior centers will be shut down.
Bloomberg said he will further address this during his budget proposal for the city on Thursday. Questions remain on whether or not the mayor will take the governor's proposal into account when outlining his plan.