Mayor Michael Bloomberg delivered a gloomy budget proposal last week with a matter-of-factness that made his news easier to digest. His message was clear: Tough times lie ahead.
His plan calls for the city to eliminate 20 fire companies, increase the cost of truck parking on Manhattan streets by 25 percent, close swimming pools two weeks early and close a 24-hour center for the homeless.
But the plan will not raise taxes and although there will be some city worker layoffs, most of the labor reductions will be realized through attrition. When employees retire, they will not be replaced. Although the mayor said his plan would not affect the level of service, it is hard to imagine agencies will not have to make painful adjustments.
Teachers will not get the raises they deserve, some firehouses may close and sanitation will reduce pickups to once a week.
Then the mayor talked about how bad it could get if the state Legislature approves the billions of dollars in reductions in state aid to the city proposed by the governor. The mayor’s people handed out a separate “Contingency Plan for Proposed State Budget Reductions” that details the consequences of Gov. David Paterson’s proposal. Our hospitals and schools would be devastated.
Each year, the city gives more to Albany than it gets back. We urge readers to push their state Assembly members and state senators to tell Paterson his city cuts are unacceptable.
Good News for 9/11 Heroes
Thankfully not all the budget news last week was bad. In a surprise turnaround, the White House said it would boost the funding available for treating ailing 9/11 responders. The White House said it would more than double the money that would be set aside for these heroes in 2011.
The news that the funds for treating 9/11 responders came only after the administration rejected a permanent plan for the responders. President Barack Obama got an earful from New York politicians that he normally counts as friends. And rightfully so.
The firefighters, police and others who risked their lives sifting through the rubble in the terrible days after the Twin Towers collapsed should never have to worry how their medical bills will be paid.