Firehouses and criminal justice services left out again
By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
In what is described as a dysfunctional “budget dance,” every year Draconian budget cuts are made to some of New York City’s essential services, including afterschool programs, firehouses, senior centers and libraries.
And every year the City Council wastes time and political capital restoring these cuts. Advocates have long called for consistent and predictable funding –- called baselining -- for these crucial programs.
On Friday, in a joint statement, Speaker Christine C. Quinn and Finance Committee Chair Domenic M. Recchia, Jr. said that that some, but not all, of these services have finally been baselined.
“We are pleased the Administration has finally recognized the budget priorities of the Council by baselining funding for vital programs such as childcare, Out-Of-School Time programming, HASA Supportive Housing and libraries. Today’s announcement is an important first step that will help finally end the yearly budget dance and ensure New Yorkers have access to the critical services that they need,” Quinn and Recchia said.
The budget gaps haven’t been entirely filled in, however –- and many services are still left out in the cold.
“We remain greatly disappointed that funding has yet to be provided to keep fire companies open and to fund domestic violence prevention programs, legal and criminal justice services and other programs,” the Council Members said. “We must ensure that the safety of our City, and of all New Yorkers, is guaranteed and we urge the Administration to provide funds for these vital programs.”
Mayor Bloomberg announced with great fanfare on Thursday that he has balanced next year’s budget, before de Blasio takes office. “We’re now handing over a balanced budget for the first time in the city’s modern history,” the Mayor said.
Comptroller John C. Liu, however, says the Mayor’s budget is not as balanced as the Mayor makes it out to be.
“The Mayor’s math doesn’t add up. The facts are clear, not only will the next Administration not inherit a balanced budget but it will also be greeted on Day 1 with a fiscal mess of historic proportions -– 300,000 employees working with expired contracts.”
Bloomberg’s 2014 budget does not include retroactive pay for contract settlement with the unions, who are hoping for $7 billion in retroactive payments.
Liu said Bloomberg balanced the budget using one-shots like selling city property and depleting the Retiree Health Benefit Trust.