Gotbaum Says 40 Percent Budget Cut Is ‘Payback’ From Quinn for Term Limits

Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum said her office will be cut by 40 percent in the budget being passed by the City Council this afternoon because of her opposition to extending term limits, and called it “political payback from Speaker Quinn,” the Council speaker.

A spokesperson for the speaker, Christine Quinn, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. Quinn does not have a media availability scheduled today and is set to pass the budget at 12:30 p.m.

Gotbaum, in a press conference outside City Hall just now, said she’s so angry that she will no longer preside over meetings of that legislative body.

The budget for the public advocate’s office will go from $2.8 million this year to $1.7 million next year, according to Gotbaum, who is leaving office in January and not running for a third term. She said she will not lay off any of her 40 employees, but may leave some positions vacant in order to save money for whomever succeeds her.

“I believe this is political payback from Speaker Quinn to my spirited opposition to extending term limits without a referendum,” Gotbaum told reporters.

The cut was proposed by the mayor, but Gotbaum said the Council traditionally restores those cuts, and did fully restore cuts proposed to the borough presidents’ offices, she said.

“I find it appalling that the speaker could not find the money to restore my budget but did have $17 million to hand out. The speaker can get the money from wherever she is parking those funds.”

Video on the way.

UPDATE: A spokesperson for Quinn called to say they will have a media availability before today’s budget vote. Gotbaum’s accusation, presumably, will be one topic that comes up.

UPDATE: Quinn responds, calling Gotbaum’s complaints “ridiculous.”