With Mayor Bloomberg out monitoring the snowstorm, Council Speaker Christine Quinn filled in for the Friday morning slot on John Gambling’s radio show and said that everything is on the table as the city continues to grapple with a budget hole.
“Given that we are on ninth round of budget cuts and that we face big cuts from Albany there aren’t any ideas as it relates to budget cuts that are going to disappear and never come back,” she said. “We are not at a point anymore–and I know New Yorkers know this–where you can just say waste, fraud and corruption, that’s going to balance the budget. We have done nine rounds of cuts. That said, I still believe we can find other choices in the budget that make the impact on New Yorkers less severe. We are making the choices between things that are good and things that are great and that is what we are going to continue to do until the economy finally rebounds.”
Earlier this week the Council and the Mayor reached a deal to keep firehouses open by getting rid of some Department of Education contractors.
Gambling asked Quinn if she would would say that new taxes are off the table. Quinn said they were, noting that property taxes–which the Council controls–are at their highest rate since after 9/11.
“We are not in a place where we can raise taxes to get ourselves out of this,” she said. “There is a point where you just simply push to far and people will put their homes up for sale and move somewhere else.”
Some members of the Council’s Progressive caucus have called for city to tax the wealthy at a higher rate in light of the break that they got when the Bush-era tax cuts were extended.
Quinn and the Council are in the midst of some high-profile battles these days. Besides the budget fight, the Council is gearing up to hold hearings on the Bloomberg snow removal effort next week at City Hall and, later, around the five boroughs. Plus, legislation to allow Wal-Mart to come to the city and to lift the city’s minimum wage are coming down the pipeline.
Quinn said she did not expect politics to enter into the hearing on Monday, but added, ” Usually we handle snow pretty well and people have had an appropriate expectation that big storms are disruptive but that we get through them in a very efficient way. To then see it go so off-course you kind of really can’t understand what happened. New Yorkers need to know ok, exactly what is the city’s emergency snow protocol? Did something change from last February’s blizzard, which went very well, to December. If something didn’t change, then at what point did we diverge off-plan and why?”