Bloomberg to Albany: You Cut Our Budget, Now Cut Our Costs
By Kiratiana Freelon on February 2, 2011 4:42pm
By Jill Colvin
CITY HALL — A day after Gov. Andrew Cuomo dropped his budget ax, the mayor insisted he had no hard feelings — but he did call on Albany lawmakers to help compensate for the nearly $2 billion in funding he said the city's lost.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who had initially slammed Cuomo for what he described as unfair treatment, turned the page Wednesday, ramping up his efforts to get the governor to sign on to a package of reforms that he argued would help alleviate the cutback pain.
"We need help from Albany to deal with the budget cuts the governor has to make," Bloomberg told reports at a press conference at City Hall, where he insisted he had no ill will toward the governor, whom he had endorsed during campaign season.
"The governor inherited a terrible situation," Bloomberg said. "Why would I feel 'had'? This guy's going to do a great job."
The city is slated to lose $518 million in state education aid in 2011-2012 compared to the previous year, according to the state budget plan unveiled Tuesday.
But Bloomberg said that based on commitments the state had made to the city in the past, Cuomo’s budget actually stripped the city of $1.4 billion in education aid, plus an additional $300 million in lost revenue sharing, for a total cut of $1.7 billion.
In order to make up the cash, the mayor has been calling for a set of changes to state law, including changing hiring practices to make it easier for the city to hire and fire workers and new pension rules that would allow the city to hike the retirement age and put an end to holiday bonuses.
Bloomberg said that even if he gets what he wants, city workers and residents should still brace for cuts.
"There will be thousands of layoffs," Bloomberg warned, predicting pain across every agency.
"There certainly is going to be inconveniences and a lot worse," he said, adding that some services would be "decimated."
Critics, including United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew, who opposes the pension and firing reforms, have argued that the city can pass a balanced budget without firing anyone by turning to other sources of revenue, such as extending the so-called "millionaire’s tax" on high earners.
Even if enacted, Bloomberg's proposals would likely result in minimal savings in the coming year due to existing contracts, an aid has acknowledged.