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Mayor Blames Albany For Massive Teacher Layoffs

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Thursday that the city will be forced to cut nearly 11,000 jobs, including 6,400 teaching positions, in its 2011 fiscal year budget, due to what he calls "Albany's irresponsibility."

Among the teacher cuts, 4,419 will be through layoffs and 1,995 through attrition.

Three-hundred non-teaching positions will be cut as well.

Additionally, Bloomberg said the New York City Fire Department will cut 400 firefighters and reduce its fifth firefighter in 60 Engine companies. The mayor said 50 senior centers will also be forced to close, as will four city pools and at least 10 public libraries.

The city has not seen cuts like this since the 1970s.

Under union rules, teachers are laid off according to seniority, which means the newest hires will go first.

However, one agency that will not be affected is the New York City Police Department. The mayor's preliminary budget in January had called for 892 officer cutbacks in the department through attrition.

This reversal comes after a recent spike in crime and, of course, the attempted bombing in Times Square.

The four-year executive spending plan outlined by Bloomberg from City Hall totals $62.9 billion, without any tax increases. However, it is contingent on the assumption that state aid will be cut by some $1.3 billion.

The mayor blamed the state's inactivity with its own budget as the cause for such drastic measures.

"Unless the Legislature acts, New York City residents will pay the price for Albany's bad decisions," said the mayor. "And I will remind everybody who unfortunately may lose their jobs, that it is because of Albany's fiscal irresponsibility for the last dozen years. and because of what they're doing this year, treating New York City disproportional to the rest of the state."

State Budget Director Robert L. Megna fired back at the mayor's accusations.

"The mayor's budget uses the state as a scapegoat to shirk responsibility for their own budget choices," he said in a statement released during Bloomberg's budget address.

Megna said that this doomsday budget "uses selective accounting to vastly overstate the local financial impact of the State's Executive Budget. Moreover, the City also appears to vastly understate the positive benefit of the additional federal Medicaid funding it expects to receive in fiscal year 2011. Taken together, these factors bring into serious question whether many of New York City's proposed cuts will ultimately be necessary – especially given the fact that the City expects to end the current fiscal year with a $3 billion surplus."

The state is five weeks past its budget deadline.

The mayor's budget proposal now goes to the City Council for hearings and approval.

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