Monday, February 7, 2011

Bloomberg on the Budget

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg came to Albany on Monday to testify about the governor's proposed budget, which he suggested represented a valiant effort by Cuomo to tackle the state's problems.
"These times require fiscal discipline,” said Bloomberg, who noted that he strongly supported large portions of the budget, like the wage freeze, merging of 11 agencies, consolidation of prison beds and closing of juvenile justice facilities. He acknowledged that cuts to the city are inevitable and promised to carry their portion of the pain.
This did not mean that he was happy about a repeated elimination of AIM funding, which they had been told they’d receive in November of 2010. He explained that these promises are very important, as his city budgets years in advance and assumes the state will honor its pledges.
He said the city was promised a restoration of the funds for this upcoming fiscal year. “Our citizens won’t let this become the new norm,” he warned. We’re responsible for 50 percent of the state’s funds, said Bloomberg, who noted that revenue sharing gives his city flexibility and announced that they wanted equitable treatment. He said, “We shouldn’t be punished for our frugality.”
“This year more than ever we need your help,” posed Bloomberg to the committee. He said they were facing the prospect of heavy layoffs, especially to the schools. While acknowledging that layoffs were inevitable, the mayor said it was important that they could break from the "last hired, first fired" model, so that bad teachers would be shown the door instead of young ones.
Regarding the building aid formula, the mayor said it would be very painful and could contradict court rulings on class sizes. On the juvenile justice system he said the closing of certain facilities was a good first step, but argued that shifting the savings back into the failed system was a mistake and urged the committee to give the city control of their own program. Concerning the future of Medicaid, Bloomberg endorsed cutting administrative costs and cautioned against cutting services.
Bloomberg espoused his budgeting philosophy, which is that it is first essential to determine what society needs and then figure out how to pay for it. He suggested that to preserve the economic engine of the state, which is the city of New York, it needs money and the removal of antiquated mandates.
“We have alternative ways,” he said. “It’s not having our cake and eating it too.”

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