This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
Barnes, Republican City Councilman from Queens, answers questions about transportation and New York City.
Marvin Sleeper moderates.
Panelists: Flo Casey, Paulette Singer, and Jim Farrell
New York City has become a welfare state, perhaps the foremost example of a welfare state in the entire world. There is no residency requirement to receive welfare benefits. This is changing the face of New York City. Long discussion of welfare laws and his political ideas about the service. Indirect costs of welfare: board of education, police department, fire department, hospitals, and housing projects. Individual charity organizations could help those people who don't meet the requirements of a residency bill. 2nd Avenue subway, Utica Avenue line, and Nostrand Ave extension were approved, but the money has been mostly squandered. Number of Republicans and Democrats in the City Council. The taxpayer is overburdened, particularly the small homeowner. There would be a reduction in taxes within the first year of any new administration. Need to do away with part time jobs getting full time pay. Departments of Commerce and Public Events should be abolished. Don't need fancy departments to entice businesses.
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 72252
Municipal archives id: LT7073
This is a machine-generated transcript. Text is unformatted and may contain errors.
As we'd like to become a welfare state the city government cost too much when York City ever have a Second Avenue Subway for the answers to these and other questions listen out to campus press conference drive scribe program in which college editors interview prominent personalities on the news here now to introduce the panel is our moderator Marvin sleeper award winning reporter for The New York Journal American and I was Mr sleeper Good afternoon and welcome to another edition of campus press conference our guest today is City Councilman Robert E. bowings from Queens the city council is made up of twenty five men elected every four years one councilman is elected for each of the state Senate districts within the city at present twenty three of the twenty five are Democrats Mr Barnes along with veteran minority leader Stanley Isaacs was alone Republicans in the council right now and although that's next to the smallest minority you can get Mr Barnes and his colleagues managed to keep the twenty three Democrats off balance whenever there is an issue that captures the public's imagination Mr Barnes is again a lot of things a majority is for and usually comes up with a few issues of his own that start off a lot of fireworks at council meeting that the boss of the freshman councilman but he's learned to swing on the political trap ease with a great deal of ease during his first term so let's find out what's on his mind these days here to ask the questions our campus press conference report is long K.C. of the Hunter College Arrow what Singer the N.Y.U. square Journal and Jim Ferraro the former I am and what about the first question from you Jim Kallstrom environs has New York City become a welfare state. Jim I thank you touched on one of the major problem that the city of New York is faced with I do believe that no York City had become a well fast state that had the almost example of a well fast state in the entire world what do you mean by well the statement of mines. Well being specific we happen to be one of the only states in the union where are you or anyone else could go this evening and if you were need you could apply for relief and welfare and obtain it no other state that I know of would give you this right for most states have a residence requirement for relief and welfare as a characteristic of being a welfare state a bad one in your mind. Yes I do think this is a bad characteristic of the welfare state because I don't believe this is changing the entire face or picture of New York City Well first what but what do you mean by residence law how would how does that differ another state from what we have here well most states have a residence requirement meaning that prior to any one applying for relief and well fat they must reside in that particular state or city for at least one yet many states have and many cities they have residency requirements greater than one year but the minimum is a year what about in your account in your relief here while the New York City and we are unique in this particular instance you need have no residency requirement whatsoever should a stranger or a My grand come into the city of New York tonight Never having set foot here before and if he or she was in need he could apply at the nonresident welfare center of the welfare department of the city and receive aid how much of an increase on the total relief well do you think the lack of this residence live it would be very difficult to say and I would think that if we ever reactivated a residence requirement in New York City we would have a period of time when we would more or less have to work out our problems we did have a residence requirement you know up until nineteen forty one and I think ever since then we've been engaged in this welfare theory of government and I say that it's really a political theory of government which places too great a burden on those who pay the bills why would you know it by our political power. Well I believe it's a political theory of government. I would say it must be only this past year they assembly up in Albany and the Senate passed a residence requirement bill which would require a one year for applicants for relief and welfare but Governor Harriman saw fit not to sign it so it didn't become law why was the old New York law drop I don't know I wasn't interested too much you're active in politics at that time why it was dropped I'm not sure I do know that it was a mistake what do you think of conditional coffee's contention that such a president's law would prevent people from coming to New York those people who are interested in coming to work to find jobs and he contends that most of the people that come here are interested in working not on getting not in getting on leave Well I don't agree with Commissioner McCarthy whatsoever I don't see where residents were requirement for relief would prevent anyone from coming to the city of New York to seek employment I say the New York City should open its arms to such people I do think however we should hesitate to accept them or those who come here with the knowledge that they can go on relief and welfare and need not be self-sustaining but wouldn't you agree that this factor is a reassuring one even though these people may not intend to get on leave automatically it still gives and some security in coming here Oh I think it does give them a feeling of security and I think it does influence them in coming here I think the very fact that no other states. Are in the same position as New York is indicative that something is wrong with Commissioner McCarthy's reasoning for many of these new arrivals are on the relief well. It's difficult to say but the nonresident welfare center in the city has an average of some ten to twelve thousand persons per month on relief and welfare now that means that these people have lived in the city of New York for less than one year a lot of use that there's more than one hundred twenty thousand maybe about one hundred fifty thousand a year that come in who are eligible for relief as soon as they're here is that right I would think those figures indicate and prove that because at the end of the year that doesn't necessarily mean that these people are removed from the relief rolls what happens is their merrily transferred from the nonresident welfare Santa to another center in the city of New York so it seems to me there's an average of ten or twelve thousand people coming into New York City every month and going on relief at this rate of the residents wasn't passed out of New York to pay for its welfare program much less the rest of the programs Well I'm sure that the only way they can pay for these welfare theory. Items of government is to continue to raise the taxes as they have done year in year out for the past ten or so years incidentally I do believe that it's a very serious problem in the past three years the city of New York has had a natural loss of some seventy eight thousand people now this means in the face of the of the fact that we know we have had newcomers coming into law city totaling perhaps a hundred and fifty thousand in those three or four years it means that we have lost close to two hundred thousand people and I say that we are losing our middle class families. These are the families who no longer can bear the burden of the rising tax bills in New York City who can who is around to bear the burden that they leave to pay for this program while I think if we continue this program and we have no residence requirements for relief and welfare I think we're going to find ourselves in great trouble some day I'm reminded of the words of a very great liberal named a burly who only recently in a published article said that if New York City continues its welfare policies it's going to end up as a city of great extremes the very rich on the one hand who can afford the tax burdens of the city and the very poor on the other those who cannot leave the city because their beneficiaries of it's a councilman How do your city's relief wells compare with those of us in the country I think that much greater than any comparative section of our country would you explain this by the lack of the residents law or are there other factors involved. Well I'm sure that the residence bail isn't a cure all for the entire picture but I do think that it's one of the main reasons for the continued heavy relief load that the people of the city of New York awful us to bad incidentally may I say this and I don't want to continue to long on it but. If you're only talking of the direct costs of relief and welfare the indirect costs are fantastic the indirect costs no one can estimate you find them in our Board of Education you find them in our police department you find them in our fire departments and especially in our hospitals they're also found in our housing projects we have a tremendous cost indirectly by reason of the lack of a residence requirement What do you mean by indirectly well by indirectly I mean simply that our hospitals for instance are overcrowded in the city of New York. We have a great number of people who come to the city of New York mainly because they know that here they can get the help that they can't get elsewhere but of course someone must pay that bill and that again comes down generally speaking to the small homeowner the small taxpayer in the city he's bearing the burden of paying the bills for instance maybe I could make it clearer by pointing out in the Board of Education. A very serious problem we have and one which I do believe warrants a little help from all the name we have in the city of New York according to the figures of Mr Silver of the Board of Education some forty thousand non English speaking students in our public school system this necessitates the city hiring teachers who speak a language other than English. This particular item I believe cost us cost the taxpayer of the city about five million dollars a year I think here Albany ought to step in and increase or help us with state aid in that particular god they have not as yet councilman if you succeeded in getting a president requirement law passed what would happen to people who in New York City who have been living here less than one year and who find themselves in need of some assistance Well of course we've always had and I trust always will have the individual voluntary charitable organizations and cherry churches who have always helped such people I do believe as I said before that if we had a residence Bill reenacted we would have to have a period of. A period in which we would have to work out the problem the quote because we would on down Hedley have a great number of people here who lived lived here less than a year and people would who would have to be helped now what would you advocate sending them back to the to their original communities our then surely when the residence bill would be in force for a year or so I would certainly do that because every state in the union does it today to follow a Burley's idea of the way though if this residence bill is not put through how long can the rejects stream remain there outvoted continually by their beneficiaries and that's a problem I guess it depends on how rich they are. I think would come to the point where something would have to be done with their retirees their practical this is the idea that they're practical they couldn't stand too much no matter how rich they really are it wouldn't stand too much well as I say that might be I don't know how long that standard but that come a breaking point there's no doubt about it now let's get on to the overall budgetary problems with. You're one of the advocates of our economy and in our city what do you suggest at this point with your request for capital budget outlays coming up in August well on the capital budget. I'm glad you brought that up because it does come to mind that we could do a number of things in the city of New York which would have a great help upon the overburdened taxpayer and one of the things we should do and do it quickly as we can is to turn over the pay is in New York Harbor to to lead to the Port Authority I believe sincerely that the Port Authority can maintain and run these piers at a great saving to the people of the city we are now planning to spend some two hundred million dollars on the pages of the city and the Port Authority has said to the city don't make this expenditure of money we will do it we will rehabilitate the piers and in addition to that we will pay you the city of New York and income for each of the piers we take all that do you think it's political that the city doesn't do this or have been want to do in the past of course it's political it would mean the doing away with a number of political jobs and clubhouses in the city of New York survive by political jobs. This would do away with a lot of political hacks shall I say Well how significant is this income that the Port Authority would offer New York City I would say that it would be a reasonable income and I think that it would it would operate to the to the benefit of the city we could use these two hundred million dollars that we plan to spend in the city by on the pay as in the next year or two we could use it because we need a new a new school we we could use it because we need hospitals we need many things we don't need politicians but we need many things because one of the repeated cries of Commissioner O'Connor your innovation is that the current donations to the city and the ways of rents and leases for port of Port Authority Police Property is not that significant is not as significant as it might be say of New York would operate its own Hello courts Well of course commissioner McCarthy has on a selfish interest dying gas if we gave the pay is over to the Port Authority had the out of a job do you mean commissioner a car Oh I beg your pardon I mean Commissioner I'm O'Connell Well what about the the debt service that we have in the city that's getting pretty big now you understand that you're pretty alarmed about how fast it's growing and I'm very much alarmed about the debt service in order to understand the picture you have to recognise that ten years ago the city of New York ran itself with a budget of some seven hundred million dollars in ten show ideas that budget has increased so that the new budget we are now operating under is one billion nine hundred and seventeen million dollars This is an increase an obvious increase of one billion some two hundred million dollars as. You know we're inclined to forget what a billion dollars is a billion dollars is a thousand million dollars and our budget has increased by a billion two hundred million in ten years a council and hasn't this problem of the debt service been worsened by the payments by the advantage of the Second Avenue Subway and yes it has