Those one-shot revenue enhancers helped the mayor avoid some tough decisions, including the possibility of eliminating nearly 2,500 teaching positions through attrition. There was some thought, too, that there would be more widespread layoffs, possibly including firefighters and police officers, but those drastic measures have been taken off the table thanks to the one-shots.
Still, it’s not as though the mayor is throwing an election-eve party with the city’s treasury. He is following through on an extremely unpopular promise to close 20 fire companies around the city. Closing firehouses is not for the faint of heart, as any number of mayors will acknowledge. Nevertheless, with the number of fires in New York hitting record lows, it seems clear that some reorganization of FDNY resources is in order.
The mayor also has proposed cuts to child-care and after-school programs subsidized with city funds. Critics say that the move will lead to sharp reductions in those services. Some 47,000 children, critics say, will be denied access to child care or to after-school programs as a result of the mayor’s proposal.
The City Council, predictably, has vowed to restore the child-care and after-school subsidies while also finding funds to keep open the fire companies that the mayor wants to close. That’s fine—but it is incumbent on Councilmembers, especially Speaker Christine Quinn, to explain in detail what programs they will cut in order to fully fund the children’s programs and the fire companies. Governance is about choices, often difficult choices. But Ms. Quinn has not demonstrated an ability to make those kinds of choices as she ramps up her mayoral campaign.
Mr. Bloomberg’s budget isn’t perfect, but it at least further solidifies the new expectation that New York will not resort to tax hikes in lieu of hard decisions.