February 21, 2011
By Annabel Palmer
In order to appropriately address New York City’s dire fiscal realities, visionary leadership and a commitment to shared sacrifice are necessary. Unfortunately, the Preliminary Budget Proposal reveals that the Administration has failed on both accounts. The $300 million dollars in cuts to Social Services outlined today are an assault on our City’s working families, our City’s working poor and our City’s most vulnerable.
The Mayor’s proposed budget outlines nearly $600 million dollars in potential cuts, with over $300 million to Social Service programs, which will significantly impact the already-strained services that our working families and our poor have come to rely on for survival. These cuts will result in some of the most serious Social Service reductions in the history of our City and will directly and negatively impact everyday New Yorkers. Of particular concern is the Mayor’s plans to cut childcare subsidies for 16,624 children in the coming fiscal year. This proposal contradicts the Mayor’s previous statements of support for working New Yorkers and demonstrates his lack of commitment to early learning opportunities for children. These cuts come in addition to the approximately 14,000 child care slots that have been lost since 2006 and mark the single largest cut to childcare services since the 1970s.
If the Mayor’s proposal becomes a reality, thousands of working families will be left scrambling for child care and tens of thousands of children will enter school ill-prepared. Unfortunately, the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) is also facing devastating cuts at both the city and state level, jeopardizing its ability to adequately provide shelter and services to homeless individuals and families. State cuts to DHS’ Advantage program will mean fewer low-income New Yorkers will be given the tools to lift themselves out of poverty. Eliminating the Advantage program without alternative housing placement and rental assistance options will result in extended shelter stays and an increase in shelter capacity.
The Governor and the Mayor are attempting to close our budget shortfalls by squeezing every last dollar dedicated to supporting struggling New Yorkers It is my sincere hope that both the Governor and the Mayor will step up to the plate by providing sensible alternatives to their current budget proposals.