Mayor Bloomberg’s Budget To Cut 6,000 NYC Teachers

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg

NEW YORK — A $2.1 billion boost in projected tax revenue will keep the city from planning new cuts to services, but the city is forging ahead with previously announced cuts that would slice more than 6,000 teaching jobs, reduce library hours and pull millions of dollars for youth jobs, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Thursday as he announced his budget proposal for next fiscal year.

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Bloomberg is banking on $600 million in state concessions to balance the $65.6 billion city budget, saying that city agencies and schools will face further cuts if the state doesn’t come through on education aid, revenue sharing and retirement payments. Bloomberg called on the Legislature to require all the state’s cities to equally share in cuts to revenue-sharing funds, a move that would save the city $200 million, as part of the concessions he’s asking from the state.

“We have planned ahead and we have helped guide New York through the deepest national recession in decades,” the mayor said, but warned the cuts would be more severe if the state concessions didn’t come through. “We don’t deserve to be penalized for our responsible management.”

The mayor proposed laying off 4,666 teachers and cutting another 1,500 jobs through attrition. Those losses, representing roughly one out of every 12 teachers in the nation’s largest public school system, are the same cuts Bloomberg initially proposed in November in response to a multibillion-dollar budget shortfall.

Another 2,000 city jobs would be lost, mostly through attrition, under the preliminary budget, and previously announced cuts to city libraries and forced furloughs for some city workers would go forward. Twenty fire companies would be shuttered.

The city declined to step in to keep open more than one-third of the city’s senior centers, serving roughly 7,000 seniors, which are slated to close after a proposed state funding change. Additionally, a federal shift is expected to eliminate about 17,000 publicly funded child care slots.

New York City’s combined tax revenue for the fiscal year ending June 30 and the one beginning July 1 is projected to reach $81.9 billion, up from the $79.8 billion announced in November. But the mayor said the $2.1 billion boost was not enough to outweigh state and federal cuts and budget shortfalls.

The budget proposed Thursday is only an initial offering for the fiscal year beginning in July. The mayor usually makes a revised proposal in May, and that may undergo further changes before it wins approval from the City Council.

Council Speaker Christine Quinn said Thursday she was pleased to see there were no new cuts but sounded a note of caution.

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“The Council has serious concerns” about the teacher layoffs, loss of child care and fire company closings, she said in a statement. “As we continue to work toward balancing our strained budget, we will make every effort to protect many of these services that New Yorkers depend on.”

Bloomberg says Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed state budget would cut $2.1 billion in aid to the city, but the Cuomo administration disputes that number, saying the city will get just $660 million less than last year. Bloomberg’s tally takes into account the state’s earlier projected increases in spending. Cuomo has called such projected spending formulas a “sham.”

On Thursday, Bloomberg said he would push the governor for a reprieve on $200 million of the planned education cuts. He is also seeking state approval to save $200 million by reducing or eliminating $12,000 yearly payments received by some retired police officers and firefighters.

The governor “

looks forward to working with the mayor during these difficult times,” Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto said Thursday.

Bloomberg has been pushing the state government to allow the city to lay off teachers without regard for their seniority, arguing that merit is more important. Currently, the city is required to lay off the most junior teachers first.

United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said the city already has lost nearly 5,000 teachers to attrition in the last two years and class sizes are “skyrocketing.”

“Given the city’s growing revenues, along with the governor’s clear statement that the state budget should not require local layoffs, the mayor’s insistence on teacher layoffs becomes more and more bizarre,” Mulgrew said Wednesday night in a statement.

He said it was time Bloomberg “joined us in fighting for the children of our city” and stopped focusing on “a bogus strategy to lay teachers off.”

The mayor argues the city has more than doubled its education funding in the last decade, although, he says, it has not been enough to make up for cuts in state and federal funding. Under the proposed budget for 2012, the city would spend $13.6 billion on education and cover 62 percent of non-federal school funding – up from 51 percent in fiscal 2002.

“Education is our No. 1 priority,” he said Thursday. “I think we have demonstrated that year in and year out.”

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