Monday, February 7, 2011

AIM Funds Stir Controversy

One of the recurring topics at Monday's budget hearing was the allocation of Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM) funding, which was cut by two percent to all municipalities, except in New York City, which lost all of its money.
Mayor Bloomberg, Comptroller Liu and member of the New York City Council all struck the same note about the AIM money. They said that after being cut from last year's budget, politicians in the city had been promised that the funds would be restored for the 2011-2012 fiscal year.
In his unveiling of the budget, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's position on this money was that the city wasn't entitled to it and that he wasn't cutting their budget because it had been previously withheld. He also noted that the city had many other sources of revenue so they would be able to absorb the hit.
This idea was reiterated by Democratic Member James Brennan, who argued that the city shouldn't have expected this money because of how bad the state's fiscal crisis was. He essentially argued that people shouldn't trust the state when things get tough, because when the goings get tough, the state basically writes checks it can't check.
NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn said the city had to plan on getting the money, or then the state would have had no reason to even consider giving them their funds. "WE would have been chumps not to put it in," said Quinn. She went on to say that the AIM cut was just another example of the state's inequitable treatment of a city that it has taken for granted.
To this point, Quinn warned that it could get worse for the city when the Medicaid Task Force finally reports, because they could disproportionately hurt the city. She said people were talking to the taskforce on behalf of NYC, but revealed that they had no stakeholders for HHC hospitals in the room. "Unfortunately they do not have a seat at the table," she lamented.
Former Finance Chair Carl Kruger expressed his apologies for his failure to deliver on the promise he made while in the majority. "It was our intention for this to be a one-year cut," he said. "That commitment is not being honored...It is being totally ignored."

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