New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s final budget proposal includes the loss of more than 6,000 teachers.
“The governor has already said that next year’s budget for him, which would be in our next fiscal year, he expects another $500 million cuts to education. If the state was still paying 50 percent or even close to it, we would not be talking about laying off teachers. But sadly, that is just not the case,” Bloomberg said.
Other city funding cuts announced Friday would include 15 percent for parks and recreation, nearly 12 percent for libraries and 9 percent for the children’s services agency.
The fire department would take about a 2 percent hit, and the police department would lose about 1 percent of its city funding.
“These are very tough times for many New Yorkers and thinking about the families who most depend on city services makes the decisions in this budget even more difficult for all of us,” Bloomberg said. “Our goal is to make sure that we have a strong city and that we protect vital services and the social safety net that keep our communities healthy.”
Bloomberg said he reduced the number of city employees by 16,000 during his administration, while at the same time seeing crime reduced by 35 percent and deaths by fire fall to an all time low.
The independent mayor must negotiate with the City Council to pass a balanced budget by June.
“We had hoped that Albany would restore more education funding, they did not. We had hope that Albany would treat us equally with the rest of the state when it came to cuts, they did not. And we hoped that Albany would adopt mandate relief measures that would’ve saved us hundreds of millions of dollars at no cost to the state, they did not,” Bloomberg said.
The mayor said that while the proposal for Fiscal Year 2012 “presents a balanced budget, New York City will still face budget gaps of approximately $4.8 billion in Fiscal Year 2013, $5.1 billion in Fiscal Year 2014 and $5.3 billion Fiscal Year 2015.”
“The state has made a decision to reduce spending on education. Here in the city, we are increasing spending on education to make up for that cut, but even New York City cannot cover the entire hole,” Bloomberg said.
The mayor said despite the cuts, mandated programs and pensions are sinking the city’s financial ship.
“Next year we will pay 8.3 billion for pension costs. Up from 1.2 billion in 2002. That is a seven billion dollar increase in ten years,” he said.
The mayor admitted in his speech that he expected criticism. The teachers’ union promptly complied.
“Same smoke, same mirrors, same attempt to blame others for his decision to lay off thousands of teachers, despite increased state aid, hundreds of millions in new revenues and a surplus that has grown to more than $3.2 billion,” United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said in a statement.
The 2012 budget also calls for a 10 percent reduction in the city’s ten-year capital construction projects.