Cindy Rodriguez is the Urban Policy reporter for New York Public Radio.
IBO Puts out Alternatives for City to Save and Generate Revenue
Friday, April 27, 2012
The city's Independent Budget Office issued a report Friday that included a list of 72 ways the city can save and generate revenue.
On the list are old favorites that are often discussed but never implemented, such as restoring a commuter tax and increasing personal taxes on the rich. But there are newer, more controversial options this year, such as ending summer school for tens of thousands of city students for a savings of $28 million , according to the report.
The IBO said that students who fail state math and english exams must attend summer school. The only problem is test results aren't available until August ― after summer school ends. That means the DOE must predict who will fail. Last summer, DOE sent roughly 34,000 kids to summer school ― 7,000 ended up passing state exams and didn't need to be there. Another 9,000 students didn't progress in summer school and had to repeat a grade anyway.
The IBO report suggests retesting students in June after an extra month of instruction that would likely allow more students to pass the state english and math exams.
IBO Director Ronnie Lowenstein said whether you're for or against cutting summer schools depends on how you view the 4-week summer school. "If there's real learning going on there then I would argue, even if a child who was on the cusp was required to attend, even unnecessarily, there's a lot of good going on," Lowenstein said. "If not that much gets accomplished in the 4-weeks then that's another story".
The Department of Education said the IBO’s recommendation of retesting would eat into any savings. "The extra instructional time students receive in summer school can be critical for ensuring they have the foundation and skills needed to achieve success," DOE spokeswoman Barbara Morgan added.
Among the more obscure proposals for saving city tax dollars is eliminating some outdated perks. According to the IBO report roughly 3,000 DOE administrative employees receive 20 minutes of paid banking time every 2-weeks in which they may go cash paychecks. Eliminating this perk would save $1 million, according to IBO.
"It's not a lot of money but how that has persisted for so many years while all of us are out there using our ATM's is not clear to me," Lowenstein said.
The IBO also said the city could save $131 million by eliminating 35 minutes that police officers receive to “wash up” and debrief after their shifts, although the report does acknowledge the time can be valuable.
Another way to raise money from the report would be to tax tickets to movies and Broadway shows. The IBO thinks that would generate $68 million.
City Hall has said it would not be raising any taxes.