Bloomberg takes out the budget ax for
By Pham Binh and Lee Wengraf | December 13, 2002 | Page 2
REPUBLICAN MAYOR Mike Bloomberg's budget plan for New York City could be summed up in just a few words: Cuts, cuts and more cuts. The billionaire mayor's plan, which was approved by New York's majority Democrat city council earlier this month, adds up to $780 million in cuts to city services.
Bloomberg's budget ax is poised to hit needed city services. Bobbie Sackman of the Council of Senior Centers and Services of New York City described to the City Council the toll these cuts will take on NYC's poor and elderly: "This will wipe out about 75 percent of the funding won over the last four years. [Take someone like] Mrs. M., an 86-year-old widowed woman who lives alone. She is frail and in need of assistance with meal preparation due to blood cancer. Mrs. M. has been on a waiting list for home-delivered meals since November 2001."
Bloomberg's budget would shutter 11 senior centers that the elderly rely upon for meals and basic services. "The budget is more than numbers--it's human beings," Sackman said.
New York City workers will also pay the price with their jobs. Hundreds of layoffs have already taken place in departments such as Sanitation and the Board of Education. In addition to cuts in service, the mayor is seeking at least $500 million in union concessions.
And more budget misery is yet to come, as Republican Gov. George Pataki gets ready to unveil his state budget cuts in January. Pataki has promised massive cutbacks to the City University of New York system.
These cuts come as social services are already stretched to the breaking point. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 300,000 more New Yorkers were in poverty than were a decade earlier. The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that among major metropolitan areas, New York had the second highest unemployment rate. According to the Center on Budget Policy Priorities, over the last 20 years, the poorest 20 percent lost 5.9 percent in average income, while the richest 20 percent gained a staggering 54 percent.
Bloomberg claims he needs to make more cuts to close $5 billion "budget shortfall." Yet Bloomberg--a billionaire CEO--refuses to raise taxes for the rich or wealthy corporations.
Bloomberg is following the lead of the bosses' best friend, George W. Bush--who after the Republican victories in the mid-term elections, announced plans for another tax break for the rich. At the same time, he's planning a war on Iraq, the cost of which--in lives and social spending--will be forced on the backs of workers.
Workers shouldn't be forced to pay for the bosses' wars or their budget crisis.