Though the passage of the marriage equality bill dominated the airwaves last week, the budget deal was sealed last Friday, setting the course for the city’s immediate future. NY1’s Grace Rauh filed the following report.
With a brief embrace Friday between City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the budget deal was sealed. The annual tradition always makes headlines, but this year's breakthrough was overshadowed by other news out of Albany.
With a vote of 33 to 29, a bill to legalize gay marriage passed the State Senate. Word that the City Council and mayor managed to avert thousands of teacher layoffs and keep fire companies open was lost in the shuffle.
However, Bloomberg said the $66 billion dollar deal doesn't mean the city's in the clear.
“Anybody that thinks the budget problems have been solved — they're not,” said the mayor. “We are going — in this next budget there are layoffs, and we are going to continue to have to downsize.”
Budget watchdog Carol Kellermann of the Citizens Budget Commission isn't thrilled with the outcome. She thinks the city could have done more to prepare for the future.
“It doesn't do enough structurally to stop some of the same kinds of doom and gloom next year,” said Kellermann.
There's a $5 billion deficit projected for next year, and the economy doesn't appear to be rebounding quickly enough to dig the city out of that hole.
“Probably next year we are going to have to do more layoffs,” said Kellermann.
Days after the deal was first announced, the nitty-gritty details are still unclear. More than 1,000 city workers are set to be laid off under the agreement, but it’s uncertain exactly which jobs are on the chopping block.
The City Council's list of earmarks hasn't surfaced yet either. It needs to be published at least 24 hours before the budget vote, which is expected Tuesday night.
What is known, though, is that most of the layoffs will hit members of a single union: District Council 37.
The union's executive director lashed out at the administration Monday. She said City Hall pitted workers against one another and failed to adopt reasonable solutions to the city's fiscal problems.
City Hall has signaled that some of the layoffs could still be averted with union cooperation.