Teachers, firefighters and police officers are all spared from layoffs in Mayor Michael Bloomberg's $69 billion budget proposal, but within the plan are cutbacks that advocates are fighting to avoid. NY1’s Grace Rauh filed the following report.
For those who keep close tabs on budget plans from City Hall, it almost sounds too good to be true. Mayor Michael Bloomberg found a way to plug a $2 billion budget gap without raising taxes.
Layoffs for teachers, firefighters, police officers and sanitation workers are also off the table.
“We've spent years planning ahead, making government more efficient and saving for a rainy day,” said Bloomberg.
The mayor noted that the city has made several rounds of cutbacks over the last few years to soften the budget blow.
The outlook is also helped by some changes the mayor expects to be made to the city's pension bill. If they go through, the city will have an extra $425 million to play with.
That said, the mayor did sound his usual alarm over the city's growing pension obligations. He said the city cannot afford to offer the same benefits to new employees going forward.
“Right now our pensions system is fairly described, I think, as a ticking time bomb,” said Bloomberg.
This year's preliminary budget may not merit the same dramatic headlines we've seen in years past, but that does not mean the council will accept it without a fight.
For starters, 25 companies are on the chopping block, and the budget slashes funding for libraries, cultural institutions and child care. Advocates say more than 40,000 slots in day care and after-school programs would be cut.
Even before the mayor presented his plan, some council members rallied outside City Hall.
“We want to see a humane budget that really protects the most vulnerable and really protects the working poor in this city,” said City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito.
Domenic Recchia, the chairman of the City Council's finance committee, said the budget proposal was better than expected.
“It's balanced. It's fair. No teacher layoffs, which is a big win. No new taxes. So we'll see where we wind up with this,” said Recchia.
The city's next fiscal year begins on July 1.