By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The sequester battle in Washington could result in casualties here in New York, according to City Councilman Domenic Recchia Jr. (D-Coney Island-Gravesend), who said he’s concerned the automatic spending cuts will hurt the effort to rebuild from the destruction of Hurricane Sandy.
Recchia, chairman of the council’s Finance Committee, issued a statement on March 5 about the implementation and effects that the federal sequestration would have on the city budget:
“Today, as we begin our annual hearings on the mayor’s preliminary budget for FY14, looming over our discussions is the inevitable impact that the federal sequester will have on our city. Although the effects will not be immediate, over the next few weeks and months, the shortage of hundreds of millions of federal dollars will be felt by our schools, our police and firefighters, our seniors, and our children living in poverty,” he stated.
“In addition, the sequester will cause federal aid for Super-storm Sandy for New York City to be reduced by as much as $500 million. This cut would potentially leave a hole in next year’s expense and capital budgets of $225 million and would reduce the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funds by over 25 percent. It will also imperil the ability of our communities to rebuild and make a full recovery,” Recchia stated.
The Coney Island portion of Recchia’s council district sustained enormous amounts of damage in the Oct. 29 hurricane and residents are still struggling to rebuild. Recchia’s district office was also flooded in the storm.
“While the direct effects of the sequester are deeply troubling, of equal concern and magnitude is the ripple effect that these cuts will have on economic growth and the rate of unemployment throughout the city. Nationally, it’s been estimated that the sequestration could cost as many as 750,000 jobs and anywhere ranging from a .25 point increase to a 1.5 point increase in the national unemployment rate. Here, in New York City, a spike in unemployment is of significant concern because our rate of unemployment, at 8.8 percent, is already higher than the national average, 7.9 percent,” Recchia said.
Sequestration is the automatic series of spending cuts – some $1.2 trillion over 10 years – that are being put into effect due to the fact that President Barack Obama and congress couldn’t agree on a federal budget. The president and congressional leaders agreed last summer to install sequestration starting March 1 if a budget deal was not reached.
Recchia recently announced that he plans to run for congress in 2014 against US Rep. Michael Grimm (R-C-Brooklyn-Staten Island). The district Grimm represents, the 11th Congressional District, covers Staten Island, Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights. The district also includes parts of other Brooklyn neighborhoods such as Bensonhurst and Gravesend.