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Bloomberg Pleads With Lawmakers on Cuomo Budget Cuts

Monday, February 07, 2011

Mayor Michael Bloomberg detailed a doomsday scenario for the city during a visit to Albany Monday in an attempt to get officials to restore funding that was slashed by Governor Andrew Cuomo when he unveiled his lean state budget last week.

The mayor, who recently said Cuomo's budget will "hurt all parts of the city" and force "thousands" of layoffs, plans to ask lawmakers to restore hundreds of millions of dollars in education money and municipal aid. The city is losing $300 million in aid to municipalities -- a 100 percent cut compared to just a two-percent cut the other 57 counties absorbed, he said.

"We will have layoffs of teachers," Bloomberg said Monday before a joint meeting of Senate and Assembly members. "I don't think anybody at this point can tell just how many, but make no mistake about it. We're going to have to have a teaching force smaller in size because of all the cuts."

Bloomberg said he will have to lay off 10,000 teachers, police, firefighters and other city workers if the state doesn't eliminate an annual holiday bonus for retired city workers that adds up to almost $1 billion annually. The mayor has also been pushing for a change in teacher rules that would allow him to lay off teachers based on merit rather than seniority. 

United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said in a statement that Gov. Cuomo had suggested his cuts would not require layoffs. The union leader suggested the mayor is looking for an excuse to lay off teachers.

In a statement, UFT President Michael Mulgrew says Cuomo had suggested his cuts would not require layoffs, and he suggests the mayor is looking for an excuse to lay off teachers.

The mayor also pressed lawmakers to make changes that he says would help the city out of its own budget crisis, like allowing city officials to once again negotiate pension and health care benefits with public employees. "The process of state-elected officials setting pension benefits for city workers, and city taxpayers picking up the tab, must end," Bloomberg said.

The state budget is due April 1. Bloomberg is slated to deliver his preliminary budget on February 17.

Reporting by Azi Paybarah

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