June 26, 2011
By Kismet Barksdale
Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced an agreement on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 budget on Friday June 24, 2011.
Speaker Christine C. Quinn stated, “Even in these difficult fiscal times, New Yorkers expect us to protect the most vital services without putting our future economic stability at risk. Those New Yorkers can rest easy tonight knowing that our children will still have great teachers, our seniors will still have great centers to visit, and our neighborhoods will still have great firehouses to keep them safe.
I’m incredibly proud that the City Council, under the leadership of Finance Chair Domenic M. Recchia, Jr., was able to do all this without using any additional dollars from our Health Care Trust Fund. I want to thank Mayor Bloomberg and all of my colleagues for coming together to make tough choices, and produce a budget that is both fiscally responsible and responds to the needs of real New Yorkers.”
The Council decreased its total amount in restorations to the budget by $10 million compared to FY 2011. In order to preserve vital programs and services, the city identified extra revenues and recognized funds that had been allocated and not needed.
Speaker Quinn and the City Council made preventing teacher layoffs a top priority during budget negotiations and successfully reached an agreement to save thousands of teachers from the chopping block. Nearly one-third of the cost of averting layoffs will be self-funded by the United Federation of Teachers. Further funding was found within the Department of Education, with decreases to school bussing contract costs and other efficiencies.
“This budget protects jobs and vital services without mortgaging our future,” said Councilman Domenic M. Recchia, Jr., Chairman of the Finance Committee. “We saved teachers, firehouses, seniors, libraries and child care, and we did it without crippling our ability to deliver a budget next year. I want to thank Speaker Christine Quinn for her leadership, as well as Mayor Michael Bloomberg, for working with us to deliver this budget. We didn’t always agree, but we all had the best interest of New York City at heart. I also want to thank our Finance Division, my colleagues in the City Council, and most importantly, the public. They called our offices, they flooded our inboxes, they showed up in force at our hearings, and they told us exactly what was important to them. This was a collaborative process, and considering the challenges we faced from a struggling economy and reduced government aid, it was a success.”
The Council also successfully prevented the closure of any fire companies and protected senior and child protective services. Existing senior centers, as well as ten new innovative senior centers, will be fully funded. And while the Administration for Children’s Services will face layoffs, the Council restored funding to maintain the staffing levels of experienced case workers, those on the frontline of protecting the city’s most vulnerable children. Funding for several programs was successfully baselined, meaning future budget discussions about these programs will begin from a higher fixed level of funding. Sexual Assault Response Teams (SARTS), District Attorneys, senior centers and CUNY will all have portions of their budgets baselined.
The City Council is expected to vote on the FY 2012 budget plan early next week.