For the seventh time in four years Mayor Bloomberg has announced from upon high that city agencies must trim the fat off their books. Just like he did earlier this year, Bloomberg has declared that almost all city agencies need to cut off two percent of their budgets for this fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2012. Crazier, he expects them to trim an additional six percent next year. That should save about $500 million this year and $1.5 billion next year. So maybe now is not the time to quit your job to follow your dream of being a low-level city employee?
"The mayor has directed that all hiring be frozen for the foreseeable future," city Budget Director Mark Page wrote in a memo yesterday. "Only hiring for positions immediately impacting public health and safety positions which help maintain budget balance through this period may be exempted by the mayor on a case-by-case basis." Which is to say that this time (unlike previous years) schools and uniformed services are also going to have to see some full on cuts. Agency heads have until October 18 to submit their lists of cuts. You can imagine how well that is going over with the unions!
"We're going to be in court. We're going to do some things ... We're not sleeping," Lillian Roberts, head of District Council 37, told the News. "[Bloomberg] thinks he can just lay off [workers] and they go away, but he's destroying families. He's placing that burden on all of us." Teachers Union president Mike Mulgrew was also on the offensive on the topic, quipping that "If he would rather cut schools than continue the millionaires tax, I think he’s making an error in judgment."
And of course, Hizzoner's nemesis, Comptroller John Liu, chimed in on the story too. He argues that this round of "cuts" is just a part of the Mayor's modern budget negotiation cycle. "It’s not even a different play from the playbook," he said. "It’s been done dozens of times. The economy is not as rosy as it was just a few years ago, but neither is the sky falling." He suggested things would calm down when the City Council gets involved, which they plan to do in the coming weeks. Plus, this'll give Christine Quinn a good chance to look like she stands up to her mentor Bloomberg!