Lew Fidler was the subject of much praise this morning at a breakfast for the New York Building Congress, a construction industry group, because he's asked Michael Bloomberg for more infrastructure money.
Fidler, as Building Congress President Dick Anderson explained, has been the leading voice in the Council to protest the 30 percent cut in the city’s capital plan, which puts billions each year into the city’s schools, police stations, sewers and other infrastructure. Earlier this month, Fidler got 42 members of the Council to join him in sending a letter to Michael Bloomberg urging him to strike the proposed cuts from next year’s budget.
“We believe that the time to cut back on capital spending to reign in debt service is when the private sector is back at work and our economy has recovered sufficiently,” the members wrote. “Doing it now will only deepen our recession and put more people out of work.”
The Bloomberg administration proposed the major cuts after years of pouring money into the capital budget. All the while, the city’s debt load grew rapidly, meaning that more money each year has to go toward debt service. In tough times, when revenues shrink, those payments stay the same, taking up a larger portion of the budget.