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Councilman Recchia on NYC's Budget

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Welcome to Politics Bites, where every afternoon at It's A Free Country, we bring you the unmissable quotes from the morning's political conversations on WNYC. Today on the Brian Lehrer Show, Domenic Recchia, Chairman of the Finance Committee and New York City Council Member (D-District 47) representing Coney Island, Bensonhurst, Brighton Beach and Gravesend, responded to Mayor Bloomberg's budget proposal and previews the ongoing budget negotiations with the City Council.

Mayor Bloomberg unveiled his budget on Friday which includes 6,000 teacher layoffs, de-staffing 20 fire stations and significant cuts to city libraries. He said the reason education is taking such a big hit in his plan is because the federal and state government have made big cuts to city funding. Now the ball is in the City Council's court to propose an alternative.

Avoiding teacher layoffs

Finance Committee chairman, Domenic Recchia said education is a priority to the city council and though he understands the mayor's difficult position, Recchia will do everything he can to prevent the teacher layoffs. To start, he said attrition will likely bring the retirement of 1,500 to 2,500 teachers so this would already lower the proposed number of layoffs.

We're just looking at all the numbers closely and we are trying to figure out where we can get the funding and how we're gonna save the teachers. This is a work in progress...If this cut goes through it's going to be devastating to the people of the city of N.Y. and to the children.

If the cuts go through, Recchia said there will be larger classes, less after school programs, less tutoring, less special reading attention from teachers as well as fewer after school programs at libraries.

Where does the money come from?

We can't mortgage our future. We have to be responsible and we have to save as many jobs as possible because when we lay off teachers it winds up costing the city additional money so we have to keep all of this in our minds throughout the whole process. 

But raising taxes isn't the answer, he said, something the City Council's Progressive Caucus is suggesting.

We cannot raise taxes at this time...We have to prevent businesses from leaving the city...The economy is in bad shape and we need to send a message that we are not going to raise taxes and we can work this all out if we examine the spending, if we look at our outside contracts and in addition to that if we really look hard to come up with new revenue ideas.

Recchia said if principals could work together and share technical consulting and other outside contracts for their schools, as opposed to each school having their own, this could be one way to save money.

One of the problems with the Department of Education today is that years ago, you had districts so the districts were responsible for the funding and the districts could oversee all their 30 or 35 schools they were in charge of and they could hire one contractor for everybody and get a better deal. The way it is now, it's every man for himself and it's a problem.

Do YOU have any ideas?

Recchia said he's talked with unions, in particular the United Federation of Teachers, and they're ready to make some concessions. Hearings on the budget will start on Thursday May 12th and go through June 6th and he's looking to the public for help. The hearings are open he'll be there to listen.

At about 4:00, the public can testify before the Finance Committee and I stay there and I hear everyone and we need to hear from New Yorkers on how this budget affects them and how they feel these cuts can not be made. And if anybody has any idea in any other areas that they think we can save money or cut, we would love to hear their ideas...If we hear a really good idea, a recommendation, we will look into and see if maybe we can make it work.

The good stuff

Mayor Bloomberg did do a few things in the budget proposal that were to Councilman Recchia's liking.

I was happy that he put a new class of 1,400 police cadets to start July 1. We were very happy with that. He added some money for the district attorneys which needed it desperately. There were some good things in this executive budget and in addition to that there's about $4 million for a new senior initiative on opening about ten new senior centers.

And Recchia's final plug — if you want to know the schedule of hearings for the Finance Committee, go to drecchia.com where you can also read testimony.

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Comments [11]

mg

THE UNIONS IN THIS COUNTRY ARE FILLED WITH GREED. THE GOVT DOESNT OWE YOU ANYTHING BUT A JOB., YOUR PENSIONS ARE WAY OUT OF WACK. WHY SHOULD I A TAXPAYER PAY YOU FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. WHY??????/ MY JOB DOESNT GIVE ME A PENSION. ARENT YOU ASHAME OF YOURSELF BECAUSE ITS LIKE BEING ON THE DOLE. THE ONLY PEOPLE WHO I WOULD PAY A PENSION TO IS THE NYPD ABND FDNY. PERIOD TEACHERS ARE WAY OVERPAID FOR THE RESULTS THEY ACCOMPLISH WHICH IS POOR.

May. 11 2011 06:39 PM
jerry from brooklyn

Mr. Recchia is a self serving politician. He supports the big developers like Thor Equities and not the little guy. He's turing Coney Island into a rich man's playground.
In my opinion he's far from being a statesman he thinks he is.
He's looking to become crowned the next Brooklyn Borough President.
Hopefully a true servant of the people will come out of the woodwork to fill the current Borough President's shoes.

May. 11 2011 06:11 PM
Senior1944 from New York, NY

Council Member Recchia should not be quoted or voted for. This guy is a bum who does not meet with seniors, nor firefighters, nor people from his district. What a waste. Mr. Recchia, we know your record and it is not for the people.

May. 11 2011 04:06 PM
martin steadman

People need to know that currently the Fire Department has 609 feewer firefighters than it had on th morning of the attack on the World Trade Center. Now the Mayor wants to cut another 500 firefighters and fire officers. The Independent Budget Office warns that would bring the total to only 10,282 in Fiscal Year 2012----more than a thousand fewer than we had on that fateful day 10 years ago. The shame is the city has the money. There is $1.5 billion in unassigned funds in one of the Mayor's piggy banks. He thinks paying down future debt is preferable to adequately funding Public Safety. He is stubbornly wrong and the City Council needs to tell him so.

May. 11 2011 06:18 AM
A Hagan from NYC

I was disappointed that Chairman Recchia failed to address the proposed cuts to public safety. In the end we need to remember that the first responsibility of government, and the basis of the ancient "social contract', is to provide for the physical safety of the citizens.

The proposal to close fire companies is civic insanity!

May. 11 2011 04:52 AM
RBC from Brooklyn

Class sizes has always been huge in NYC. We should be lucky that its 34 students. When my mom went to school in the '50s and '60s class sizes were busting at the seams!! Her kindegarten class had 50 kids! Her junior high school had 30 8th grade sections. When she went to high school, the teacher had to give up her desk to a student because there weren't enough desks. This is nothing new.

May. 10 2011 12:01 PM
CL from NYC

Oh, come on! The notion that the city can take on high tech developments itself is pure stupidity. The knowledge and skills simply do not exist within the city ranks. In fact, although contractor abuse is certainly responsible for many of the problems in recent years, the city's inability to understand the ins and outs of these projects is also partly to blame. What an irony, given the mayor's professional background.

May. 10 2011 10:40 AM
lisa from nyc

how much does the useless (and somewhat idiotic) testing cost the NYC school system? probably enough to keep teachers and improve Ed standards at same time.

May. 10 2011 10:38 AM
Leah from Brooklyn

If this guy is steering the ship, I'm jumping overboard.

May. 10 2011 10:36 AM
Chris from South Bronx

Class sizes will go up, "from 24 to 28" students? I teach at a public high school in the Bronx (a "small school") and I have 4 classes of 9th graders, each of which is at the legal limit of 34 students. What happens when class sizes go up -- where do those students go? Legally, you can't cram any more students in my class. If anything, we need to REDUCE class size. You are severely limited with how much time you can devote to each student when you have over 130 students to teach each day.

May. 10 2011 10:32 AM
bernie from bklyn

this is a bit off subject but i'd like to know the council member's stance on the mayor's proposed sanitation facility on the waterfront in bensonhurst and if he's aware of the live munitions found in gravesend bay.
thank you.

May. 10 2011 10:26 AM

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