The Mayor’s FY 2013 preliminary budget comes against the backdrop of a slowly improving economy. However, this preliminary budget still contains substantial and unacceptable cuts to services for the families and communities that need them the most. As it currently stands, these cuts fall particularly hard on our children through cuts to childcare, further reductions in the number of teachers in our classrooms due to attrition, and a nearly 50 percent cut to after school programs. These cuts will lead to lower graduation rates, a higher incidence of youth violence, and diminished prospects in the future. We simply cannot afford to shortchange the next generation.
Schools: At our recent preliminary budget hearing, Chancellor Walcott said that the Executive Budget will result in no budget cuts to schools in FY ‘13. We are heartened by this statement and look forward to an executive budget without cuts to teachers and other school staff.
Childcare: Next week, the Early Learn RFP awards will be released. Unfortunately, the Council’s position remains that the RFP suffers from several structural flaws in addition to being under-funded. The Council stands ready to work with the Administration to fix these flaws and provide adequate funding to protect the existing number of child care slots.
Youth: Funding for our city’s after school programs (Out-of-School-Time, or OST) have been cut nearly in half for Fiscal Year 2013 in comparison to FY ’12. OST and other after school programs such as Beacon Schools and the Cornerstone program must be fully funded.
It is important to make the right investments in our children. We must at the same time protect public safety. A strong neighborhood police presence that is sensitive to New York’s diverse communities is a must. To ensure our city’s neighborhoods continue to experience a decline in crime, the Council strongly urges that 500 uniformed officers currently performing tasks eligible for civilization be re-assigned to increase the department’s patrol strength. This can be done at a relatively low cost to strengthen the city’s enforcement presence while reducing the cost of performing civilian and clerical tasks where law enforcement training and experience are not required.
“The smart decisions made in past budgets have left us in a strong position to make the right choices for New York’s future,” said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “We look forward to receiving the Mayor’s Executive Budget and working with the administration to adopting a budget in June that reflects our optimism for our City’s future.”
“It is an undeniable fact that protecting our children and keeping our streets safe should be of the highest priority to this city,” said Councilman Domenic M. Recchia, Jr. “The sharp decline of teachers in City schools over the past four years has resulted in a significant increase in class size, therefore I believe it is imperative that we continue to advocate on behalf of students and teachers. Additionally, in order to ensure the safety of all residents it is crucial that the 518 uniformed officers currently performing tasks which are eligible for civilianization, be returned to enforcement duties as soon as possible and that new civilians be hired in their place. Lastly, the offices of the District Attorney are underfunded for the scope of its mandate. We need to rectify this funding inequality to make certain the protection of our city’s resident’s remains of the highest importance. I look forward to the Mayor’s Executive Budget and hope that he takes into account the needs of all New Yorkers.”