Bloomberg budget to cut teachers, fire companies

May 6, 2011 2:33:31 PM PDT
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced his 2012 budget plan Friday.

On the chopping block are 20 fire companies and thousands of teachers who are in danger of losing their jobs.

The mayor began his budget announcement by saying that the city's economy is in much better shape than it was one or two years ago, but we have a long way to go. He blames the state and federal governments for shortchanging the funding to New York City by $6 billion.

"These are still very tough times for many New Yorkers, which makes the decisions in this budget even more difficult," Bloomberg said. "Our goal is to make sure we continue to have a strong city, and that we protect vital services and the social safety net that keep our communities healthy."

Disinvestment by Washington, D.C. and Albany have left city officials with difficult budget decisions, Mayor Bloomberg said. One such question is how to fund necessary social services when the money just isn't coming in the way it once was.

"You'll see that a lot of those are programs that are mandated by the state, and the state's cut the money," he said.

Bloomberg said the state balanced its budget on the backs of the counties. So every New York City agency is having to do more with less. His budget proposal includes the loss of more than 6,000 teachers.

"There will be layoffs, and unfortunately, last in-first out just isn't the way to run the school system," he said. "It's just an irrational way. There are great teachers at all levels of seniority, and we have to make sure that we keep the great ones."

City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio released a statement saying the mayor is making the wrong choices when it comes to the future of the children. He said, "Even a cursory look at the millions we spend on teacher recruitment and technology consultants shows that the administration has not made a real effort to strip down other expenses before firing teachers."

Also on the chopping block is nearly two dozen fire companies and some police cuts. The mayor acknowledged the death of Osama bin Laden and the city must always be protected.

"These things have to go on and they cost money," he said. "And I've said repeatedly, we are not going to wait to do the things to keep this city safe until we get the money. We are going to do it, and then find a way to pay for it."

The mayor's plan balances the budget with no tax increases for New Yorkers. The independent mayor must negotiate with the City Council to pass a balanced budget by June.

"We are forced to do the best we can with what we've got," Bloomberg said. "The state has shifted the burden from them to us."

On the upside, the city will hire new police cadets. The now-empty Police Academy will get a new class in July, as the city plans to hire 1,400 new officers.

The hirings will ease, but won't stop, the department's declining manpower.

"This is a reflection of the very difficult economic times the city finds itself in," NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said.

All told, the mayor is expected to slice an additional $400 million from city agencies.

"Do I anticipate big layoffs?" Bloomberg said. "We're going to do everything we can to try and maintain this city, but we have a fiscal responsibility. There's only a limit to what we can do."