Mayor Michael Bloomberg presented a bad-news budget last week that would cut personnel, including teachers and firefighters, and popular services, like libraries and senior citizens’ centers. If you don’t think the shenanigans in Albany affect the city, think again: Many of Mr. Bloomberg’s painful cuts can be traced to the scandalous dysfunction of state government.
Albany has yet to agree on a budget for the new fiscal year—the budget was due on April Fool’s Day. The city could face sharp reductions in state aid when Albany gets around to passing its spending plan, leaving Mr. Bloomberg with little choice but to patch a $5 billion deficit with layoffs and service reductions—he wisely chose not to raise taxes on a citizenry that already is burdened with every tax imaginable.
Some 6,700 public-school teachers may be laid off, along with 400 firefighters. The cuts in school spending come at a time when the city actually needs more (and better) teachers, as Schools Chancellor Joel Klein has pointed out.
Albany’s dysfunction has a trickle-down effect on every neighborhood in New York City. What a shame that Governor Paterson and his aides have decided to ignore the presence of their hand-picked lieutenant governor, Richard Ravitch, an effective mediator and problem-solver who has been relegated to the sidelines amid all the bickering and posturing in the capital.
Mr. Paterson showed a flash of steel in ramming though an emergency spending plan this week that calls for furloughs of 100,000 state workers. He ought to build on that accomplishment by brainstorming with Mr. Ravitch and demanding that legislative leaders get serious about delivering a budget—now. Every city and every county in New York is suffering because of Albany’s broken system of governance. This simply has to stop.
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