Speaker Quinn Cuts In On Budget Debate

After Mayor Bloomberg released his bad-news budget several weeks ago, we argued in this space that City Council Speaker Christine Quinn—another mayoral aspirant—had to do more than complain about cuts to popular programs. If she wanted to be taken seriously, we argued, she had to provide an alternative vision.

She did just that the other day, unveiling an alternative school budget that seeks to minimize the mayor’s plan to eliminate 6,100 teaching positions, most of them through layoffs. Ms. Quinn’s plan calls for $75 million in spending cuts to other programs, including the Department of Education’s transportation budget.

Ms. Quinn’s plan would reduce, but not eliminate, the need to shed teaching jobs. And some of her proposed cuts, including a 1 percent reduction in the department’s $1.5 billion transportation budget, could entangle the city in a lawsuit over school bus service.

Nevertheless, the speaker’s plan can and should be the beginning of a public debate and, perhaps, a private negotiation. And Ms. Quinn had the good fortune to release her plan when one of her potential mayoral foes, Mr. Weiner, was in the process of committing career suicide, and another, Mr. Liu, was engaged in a politics-as-usual love fest with special interests.

With this alternative spending plan, Speaker Quinn elevated her stature and seriousness of purpose. Let the debate begin.