Watching the yearly New York City budget process unfold under the Bloomberg Administration is a lot like watching a soap opera that somehow always has a happy ending.
Such is the case of last week’s $66 billion spending plan that Bloomberg and the City Council hammered out last week.
Leading up to the agreement, Bloomberg threatened to lay off some 6,500 teachers, along with other workers, close firehouses, take away some 11,500 day care slots from the working class and working poor, close day care and senior centers, and slash funding, hours and employees from libraries, parks and other services that make the city both safer and a more enjoyable place to live.
The City Council responded with rallies bigger than Christian tent revivals.
Then, usually in the last 10 days or so before the June 30 budget deadline, miracles that would make Moses blush start happening. Both Bloomberg and the City Council finds extra money, and almost none of the cuts happen and everybody claims victory.
Locally, I give points to City Council members Letitia James and Charles Barron, who both have repeatedly suggested using several billion dollars from a “rainy day” fund to make up for any budget shortfall. They rightfully have said that with the economy in the doldrums the rainy day is now upon us.
Kudos also goes to Councilman Al Vann, who has kept his eyes on the daycare cuts and remains vigilant that Central Brooklyn does not have to absorb more cuts than the rest of the city.
Of the losers in the city budget is the DC 37 union, which will take the bulk of the 1,000 or so city layoffs. It is unfortunate that this union did not follow suit of the teachers union and negotiate a little more with the Bloomberg Administration in regards to concessions.
One thing the city can’t do is raise taxes on the rich or anyone else as this must be done on the state and federal level.
For this, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers in Albany deserve a failing grade. While many are cheering same-sex marriage and rent control legislation, it behooves the state to raise taxes on the wealthy – those individuals or families making over $250,000 or even $500,000 a year.
This is not to make class warfare an issue, but logic dictates that in tough economic times everybody must contribute a little more.
Which brings up the last budget fiasco.
The Obama Administration in Washington is currently locked in a battle with Republican lawmakers to raise the federal debt ceiling, which is currently at $14.3 trillion (and you thought you had cash flow issues).
What raises the stakes in this budget poker game is if Washington defaults on their debts it could spell even more problems for the world economy.
The crux of this problem is Republicans won’t sign off on raising the debt ceiling if only there is reductions in spending – mainly on social entitlement programs.
President Obama is willing to wilt to some reductions, but would also like to repeal some of the tax breaks for wealthy corporations, such as oil companies, as well as individuals and families earning more than $500,000 a year.
On this issue, I hope Obama stands his ground.
In tough times, everybody must pull together.