Bloomberg bad at saving money, everyone weirdly upset
by Will Speros
Mayor Bloomberg released his budget proposal for the Fiscal Year 2014 and, unsurprisingly, a lot of people are pissed. Annabel Palma, Chair of the City Council’s General Welfare Committee, led a rally on the steps of City Hall on March 18, along with many other advocates and clients, protesting Bloomberg’s decision to slash millions of dollars from social services.
The $70.1 billion proposal puts some of the city’s most vulnerable populations in danger of losing the public services that thousands of New Yorkers rely on everyday as a bridge out of poverty or struggle.
Educators as well as students from low-income families are among those getting hit the hardest by the Mayor’s proposed budget cuts. 1,800 teaching positions are expected to be cut by the end of the year. Last year, City Council negotiated for the early childhood education program, EarlyLearn NYC, to receive increased baseline funding and over $58 million to go towards discretionary seats and 4,500 vouchers for the children of more financially-strapped families. Unfortunately, the Mayor’s budget proposal does not include the $58 million that City Council fought so hard for. In fact, the Mayor’s final Preliminary Budget includes the slashing of up to $217.9 million in funding for children and their families.
Another group that will suffer as a result of Bloomberg’s shortsighted plan are the homeless. The number of homeless individuals sleeping in shelters every night has increased 19% since last year. While the Mayor’s proposal mercifully includes $69.5 million to accommodate the increased capacity, the plan still includes some money-saving shortcuts that will negatively single homeless adults. The budget proposal calls for a diversionary measure that will reassign individuals who do not utilize their assigned shelter for more than 30 days. The Human Resources Administration are also going to take some major hits, partially due to the increasing food and poverty costs. The reduction of food assistance funding has struck many City Council members, like Stephen Levin, as completely absurd and unfair.
The HIV/AIDS Services Administration, which falls under the HRA, is also likely to lose $5 million in funding if Bloomberg’s proposal actually goes through. The HASA provides supportive housing contracts and case management for people living with AIDS, and the budget cuts would ultimately put 4,500 of their clients at risk of losing their specialized care, and may even leave some without a place to live at all. The mayor plans to continue paying 50% of broker fees for all benefit recipients, including HASA clients, after having previously paid 100% of the fee.
In the meantime, several other members of City Council have agreed to continue working with Councilwoman Palma to restore the millions of dollars slashed in the plan for 2014.