Council Budget Hearing Gets Heated
Lawmakers joined members of the public Monday in a final effort to blast the mayor's budget and its many proposed cuts to city services. NY1's Michael Herzenberg filed the following report.
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Even before the scheduled time for the public to address the City Council Finance Committee Monday, three different groups disrupted the hearing.
The groups protested public school and CUNY cuts as well as various housing issues. But City Council members sounded off as well.
"We don't even have written testimony by the way, create some sort of a farse of a testimony and refusing to answer some basic questions that we have on behalf of our constituents and you ask us to vote for the budget based on the the greater good of New York according to Mayor Bloomberg shame on all of you," said City Councilman David Greenfield.
Council members grilled the mayor's budget director on everything from child care cuts to teacher layoffs and from fire company closures to reduction of the public library budget.
The anger spilled into fear on the streets in front of the Council hearing.
"I think they're penny wise and pound foolish," said one demonstrator.
"I'm concerned because the budget as proposed by the mayor includes pretty severe cuts to arts and cultural," said another.
Back inside, City Budget Director Mark Page defended the proposed cuts, citing a bleak economic outlook.
"Unfortunately when we find ourselves collecting less from the tax base, getting less support from the state, getting less support for the feds and having less money in the piggy bank we have less money to spend. And that is in fact what we're up against," said Page.
A fiscal challenge was just about all the Council and the mayor's office seemed to agree upon Monday. Both sides will have to figure out how to surmount the loss of revenue by the budget deadline at the end of the month.