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Sunday, March 30, 2008

More disinformation from the city on the budget cuts

According to today’s Daily News, the Bloomberg administration is arguing in Albany that the Assembly’s proposal to erase the Governor’s cuts to education but also to require the city to refrain from making its own cuts would instead force even more draconian reductions than currently planned to other essential city services, like policing and sanitation.

This argument flies in the face of at least three realities:

1- There is no city deficit that necessitates any cuts. In fact, surpluses in the city’s budget are expected until at least 2010 – according to the Independent Budget Office’s analysis here.

2- At the same time the administration is proclaiming that declining revenue obligates them to make these cuts, they are also insisting on reinstituting property tax cuts and rebates amounting to $1.25 billion – more than enough to fulfill the city’s promise made last year to increase funding for our schools.

3- Education is the only area that the state’s highest court deemed so underfunded as to deprive our children of their constitutional rights – and the administration’s promise last year to increase education spending over four years that now Bloomberg wants to renege on was made to address these illegal deficiencies.

Thanks to Pigs and Fishes Art Services for the inspired visual.


Anonymous said...

I'm no fan of the DOE, but the Mayor is required by law to present a balanced budget not only for the current year but also for the next four "out years." And it's fiscally responsible to apply surpluses in one year against potential deficits for future years, particularly given where the economy is headed. The Mayor might be able to spare education using those resources today but end up in a position of having to massively cut services (in education and elsewhere) if current forecasts for 2010 and beyond hold -- and especially if they worsen as is likely to be the case (the January budgets were not a recession forecast and we're almost certainly heading into a recession if we're not already there). That's with or without the property tax rebate, which the Mayor may be holding as a hedge against economic realities that are potentially worse than what was forecast in January (or even in the OMB's revised forecast for March). The Mayor and Council can spare education altogether, or reduce cuts, but to do so they will likely have to make deeper cuts to other agencies like fire and police. Those two agencies plus education make up the bulk of the city's budget by far. Then there are a million little agencies that do things we all care about, like providing services to the homeless, keeping libraries open, underwriting cultural organizations, etc. The economy is in bad shape. That's a real situation.

Leonie Haimson said...

Anonymous: No matter how you want to spin this, the truth is that there would be no need for any budget cuts if the Mayor didn't insist on reinstituting property tax cuts worth $1.25 billion at the same time. These property tax cuts were supposed to be temporary -- and only for a time of multi-billion dollar surpluses.

Clearly, for Bloomberg tax cuts are more important than keeping his promise to our kids.

And don't tell me about 2010 and beyond -- as far I know he won't be around then, and hopefully we will be in the hands of a Mayor who cares about his responsibility to provide a constitutionally adequate education to NYC children.