Hard times = budget cuts

November 16, 2009 2:06:18 PM PST
Sure the stock market is up, and the companies that got bailed out with taxpayer money seem to be turning things around.

So good for them.

And good for those who had the cash and chutzpah to keep investing in a down market, and keep buying to help drive the market up.

But for the rest of America - which is to say 99 percent of the population - the recession is still very much alive, thank you very much. Good for rich investors that the market is up, but if you're out of work - and millions are, with unemployment at 10.2 percent and still climbing - times are still tough.

You can see it in the way people are still slashing their household budgets. I know we recently took another scalpel to ours, and when I called the phone company to cut a landline and the cable company to cut a service, the reps there told me they were regularly fielding calls by people making small but real cuts in their monthly expenses.

And you can see it in the restaurants that still are scrounging for nightly dinner business.

And you can see it in government budgets. The one in Albany is a mess. And the one in New York City, while a lot less messy, isn't very pretty. Mayor Mike Bloomberg, fresh from his less-than-stellar re-election two weeks ago, announcing today that the "local economic outlook remains uncertain," and calling for more budget cuts. And no sector is spared, although schools, fire and police departments won't be as hard hit as everyone else.

Deep slashes overall in the next two years - with 5.5 percent for education, 6 percent for police and fire, and 12 percent for all other City agencies.

Officials are focusing on spending cuts because revenues are clearly not pouring in. The recession may be over in technical terms - the economy may not be continuing to shrink as drastically and in fact may be growing ever-so-slightly - but jobs aren't being created, and people who are getting jobs are taking them for lower wages than the jobs they lost.

And that means lower revenues for government.

We'll have the latest on the dire budget projections, tonight at 11.

Also at 11, an incredible story from our investigative reporter Jim Hoffer. In the months before the Sept. 11 terror attacks, back when it was easier to get a marriage license, scores of Middle Eastern Men, from Pakistan, Egypt, Yemen, Jordan and Syria, came to a small town in Westchester County to get married. Married, in some cases, to the same bride. Was it a way to gain legal status? Was it all a scam? Is it a security risk that still exists today. Jim's disturbing story, at 11.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.