Mayor Bloomberg Unveils $65.7B Budget; Sticks to Threat to Cut 6,000 City Teachers

NY Daily News - May 07, 2011

by Adam Lisberg

Mayor Bloomberg is sticking to his threat to get rid of 6,000 city teachers by next fall.

He unveiled a $65.7 billion budget Friday morning that cuts another $233 million from city spending, on top of the firehouse closings, social service cuts and teacher layoffs he has demanded for months.

"It is a budget that is less than last year's budget," the mayor said. "It is not just less after inflation or less than the projected growth, but less money, total, period."

Bloomberg blamed the state and federal governments for slashing their payments to the city, saying Albany pushed its bad budget decisions onto the people of the city.

"This thought that 'Oh, the city has plenty of money, they can make up for anything' is just not realistic," the mayor said. "What is the benefit of being fiscally responsible if you save your money and they're just going to cut you back?"

The mayor's spending plan increases school spending by $2 billion to make up for state and federal losses, but still lays off 4,666 teachers and loses another 1,500 to attrition.

His aides are pressing Albany to scrap the last-in, first-out rule that lays off teachers based on seniority, saying that could help limit the damage.

Bloomberg said no final decision has been made, but he was vague about promising to save any of their jobs even with help from Albany.

"It could be done if the unions could come up with some savings," the mayor said. "If Albany would change LIFO that would mitigate the impact on the education system.

"But we'll have to see."

Friday's budget was the first update since February, when Bloomberg laid out similar grim news.

The new spending plan adds $35 million to uniformed services since February, but cuts $40 million from health and welfare agencies - including $36 million from children's services and $30 million from homeless services.

Not all the news was bad: Bloomberg said he saved 16,000 daycare slots for poor children by finding an extra $40 million infusion.

Critics, though, said his math doesn't work, since the city used to pay $100 million for the same services.

"It's really a shell game, because instead of eliminating seats, they've cut the payments," said Brooklyn City Councilman David Greenfield. "They're really only restoring 40 cents on the dollar."

The City Council will negotiate a final spending plan with Bloomberg over the next month, before the new fiscal year begins July 1.