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Budget

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New York and the New Budget

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

WNYC
It’s easy to demonize someone when they’re cutting, because it hurts. Everyone is screaming for cuts because we have to stop the spending. But they just don’t want their program cut. That’s the political nightmare, if you will, for someone who does want to stand up and do the right thing for the country.

— Congressman Michael Grimm (R-NY13) on the Brian Lehrer Show.

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The Takeaway

The Budget: What Would You Cut?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

President Obama released his 2012 budget Monday, but that covers spending that doesn't start until October of 2011. This week, House Republicans are debating more than $100 billion in cuts from last year’s Presidential budget request. Americans agree that the budget needs to be cut, but when it comes down to specific programs, things get complicated. Below we've compiled a selection of proposed cuts. Check off the ones you'd be willing to see go. Chop away!
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WNYC News

Financial 411: President Obama Details $3.7 Trillion Budget

Monday, February 14, 2011

President Barack Obama has released his $3.7 trillion budget for 2012. It's a mix of spending cuts and tax increases as well as funding for programs the president says will keep the U.S. competitive.

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WQXR News

Obama Proposes Domestic Spending Freeze

Monday, February 14, 2011

President Barack Obama has introduced his budget proposal, touting investments in ideas that will "out-build and out-innovate and out-educate, as well as out-hustle" the rest of the world. He delivered his budget plans at a middle school in Baltimore on Monday.

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Transportation Nation

Rail, Transpo Projects Face GOP Ax in Spending Bill

Monday, February 14, 2011

(Washington, DC -- Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation) Transportation projects are set to take a massive, immediate hit under a spending bill headed for the floor of the House of Representatives this week.

Republicans are aiming to cut nearly $15.5 billion from the section of the budget carrying transportation and housing funding. The money comes out of highway projects, infrastructure investments, and particularly high-speed rail.

The bill, what’s known in Washington as a continuing resolution, funds the government from March 4 through the end of September, 2011. Overall it contains around $63 billion in immediate cuts from current spending levels across the government. It’s all part of Republicans' pledge to reduce immediately reduce spending, and it could go even further by the time the bill is done being amended on the floor.

It’s also prelude to a broader budget fight hitting Washington this week. President Obama unveils his Fiscal 2012 budget plan Monday morning. That covers spending beginning October 1, 2011, and its big transportation highlight--$53 billion in high-speed rail funding—is already attracting Republican derision.

“We’re broke,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), said on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday morning. He repeated the refrain all week as Democrats, and even some Republicans, complained about the pain such immediate cuts could cause.

Before we look at specifics, keep in mind: After passing the House, this bill still needs to get through the Senate, where Democrats have a majority and lawmakers overall are considerably less enthusiastic about immediate discretionary spending cuts than are their House colleagues.

Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), a conservative member of the Appropriations Committee and a spending hawk, acknowledged late last week that the aim of the deep-cutting House bill was two-fold: To fulfill Republicans campaign promises and to go into negotiations with the Senate “with as big a number as possible.”

A good chunk of that big number will come out of high-speed rail, if the House GOP gets its way. The continuing resolution hitting the House floor this week goes after $2.475 billion in funding already sent out to rail projects under stimulus and from other sources. It also seeks to hold back another $2.5 billion in high-speed rail funding yet to go out the door.

But rail isn’t alone. The bill cuts $600 million in general “national infrastructure investments," and takes another $600 million-plus from Federal Aviation Administration. Highways take a major hit as well, with $650 million slated for cuts to the Federal Highway Administration’s general fund and another $293 million in cuts to “surface transportation priorities”.

Democrats are predictably incensed at the GOP package. Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) accused Republicans of taking a “meat axe” to the federal budget. House Democratic Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), responded to the GOP proposals by backing a quick, and ultimately failed floor attempt to renew “Build America Bonds” for infrastructure funding.

“When you say they want to cut transportation, we know right away that’s a false economy,” Pelosi said to an organized labor crowd including members of the United Steel Workers on Thursday.

But the House’s cuts in general, and high-speed rail cuts in particular, are music to the ears of many Senate Republicans, at least publicly. Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, the senior Republican on the Budget Committee said Thursday that high-speed rail projects were not efficient at stoking economic growth and should be killed.

The continuing resolution is set to hit the House floor Tuesday for at least two days of debate and amendments, possibly more. Conservative lawmakers are promising attempts to cut even more from federal spending right away. According to Boehner, if successful amendments lead to even deeper immediate cuts this week, “that’s fine.”

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The Takeaway

This Week's Agenda: Middle East, Budget, G20 Summit

Monday, February 14, 2011

With protesters in Egypt successfully overthrowing President Hosni Mubarak, following successful protests in Tunisia, we take a look at Yemen. That country has seen protests all weekend — not from the opposition but from the youth of the country, who have organized primarily via text messaging. Noel King, managing producer for The Takeaway, looks at why the U.S. should be keeping a close eye on what's happening in Yemen, as well as in Iran. 

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The Brian Lehrer Show

A State of Bankruptcy

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Nicole Gelinas, contributing editor at the Manhattan Institute's City Journal and author of After the Fall: Saving Capitalism from Wall Street and Washington, talks about her congressional testimony on the fiscal woes of state and local governments - and whether bankruptcy should be an option. 

→ Read a Recap and Join the Conversation at It's A Free Country

Transportation Nation

Republicans Announce Proposed Spending Cuts; HSR and Amtrak Take Hits

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) The Republicans released their list of spending cuts earlier today, proposing slashing funding to a wide swath of programs -- including transportation. Among the $74 billion worth of potential reductions: cutting Amtrak's budget by $224 million, and slashing funding for high-speed rail by $1 billion.  The bill will be formally introduced tomorrow.

The Wall Street Journal points out that "it’s difficult to determine the actual level of cuts from current federal government funding levels since the cuts are proposed against President Barack Obama's fiscal 2011 budget request, which was never taken up by Congress."

The list can be found below or here.

From the US House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations:

CR Spending Cuts to Go Deep

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers today announced a partial list of 70 spending cuts that will be included in an upcoming Continuing Resolution (CR) bill. The CR legislation will fund the federal government for the seven months remaining in the fiscal year and prevent a government wide shut-down, while significantly reducing the massive increases in discretionary spending enacted in the last several years by a Democrat majority. A full list of program cuts will be released when the bill is formally introduced.

The total spending cuts in the CR will exceed $74 billion, including $58 billion in non-security discretionary spending reductions. The statement by Chairman Rogers on these cuts follows:

“Never before has Congress undertaken a task of this magnitude. The cuts in this CR will represent the largest reduction in discretionary spending in the history of our nation.

“While making these cuts is hard, we have a unique opportunity to right our fiscal ship and begin to reduce our massive deficits and debt. We have taken a wire brush to the discretionary budget and scoured every program to find real savings that are responsible and justifiable to the American people.

“Make no mistake, these cuts are not low-hanging fruit. These cuts are real and will impact every District across the country - including my own. As I have often said, every dollar we cut has a constituency, an industry, an association, and individual citizens who will disagree with us. But with this CR, we will respond to the millions of Americans who have called on this Congress to rein in spending to help our economy grow and our businesses create jobs.”

The List of 70 Spending Cuts to be Included in the CR follows:

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WNYC News

NYC Failed to Collect $3.3 Million in Taxes, Says City Comptroller

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

The city says it needs more money from Albany even though it's overlooking millions of dollars at home, according to an audit by the city's comptroller.

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WNYC News

Bloomberg Takes Aim at Special Ed Costs

Monday, February 07, 2011

Mayor Bloomberg called on state legislators Monday to make it harder for special education students to attend private schools at taxpayer expense.

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WNYC News

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.

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WNYC News

Financial 411: Gov. Cuomo Unveils State Budget Plan

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Markets

A positive report on factory activity sent markets sharply higher today. The Institute for Supply Management says its index has hit its highest level since 2004. Firms surveyed by the ISM said January brought a growing backlog of orders.

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Transportation Nation

NYC MTA: Budget Cuts Will NOT Mean Service Cuts or Fare Hikes This Year

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

New York's transit cuts (photo by Azi Paybarah/WNYC)

From the NYC MTA:

"We understand that the State’s fiscal crisis requires sacrifice from every area funded by the State, including the MTA. Because the MTA has already taken unprecedented measures to reduce costs, finding an additional $100 million in 2011 will be very painful, especially with sizable deficits still projected for 2012 and 2014. As we continue cost-cutting, further reductions become harder and harder to achieve.

"But we must fill this gap, and we will fill it without resorting to fare and toll increases or service cuts, because our riders have already been hit with these painful measures over the past year. Instead, we will work to find additional cost-savings through efficiencies and improved productivity throughout our company. We are hopeful that this year we can work with our labor unions to find productivity improvements that protect jobs even as we reduce costs.

"Making these cuts will be painful, but we can only spend as much money as we have. Given the financial pressures facing the State, local governments, and every New Yorker, our only choice is to manage the MTA so that every dollar counts."

And the Straphangers Campaign sends this along:

"Governor Andrew Cuomo's proposed state budget has mostly good news for New York City-area transit riders in these tough economic times.

"It's true that the 2011-2012 State budget proposed to diverts a net of $100 million from funds originally passed for and dedicated to the MTA. In the view of the Straphangers Campaign and many other groups, those funds should be used to meet transit needs.

"However, the MTA says it will not have to turn to service cuts or fare increases to make up the shortfall. That's very welcome after an unprecedented three years in a row of higher fares – as well as last year's service cuts, the worst in memory.

"The MTA says that it will have to take "painful" actions. The Straphangers Campaign and other groups will monitor the agency's response closely to see that the transit system has adequate resources to provide safe, reliable, well-maintained, secure and clean service."

More analysis on the way.

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WNYC News

Cuomo Proposes Across-the-Board Cuts in First Budget

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Governor Andrew Cuomo's first budget presentation to state lawmakers includes across-the-board cuts, a consolidation of 11 state agencies, a warning of 9,800 layoffs and "one new fee" on horse racing. 

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Previewing Andrew Cuomo's Budget Address

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Hakeem Jeffries, New York State Assemblyman (D-57) representing central Brooklyn, and Senator John J. Flanagan, New York State (R) 2nd Senate District, preview the New York State budget announcement later today.

Note: Today at 1pm watch the budget address live online at the It's A Free Country homepage.

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WNYC News

Cuomo Revises Approach to Budget

Monday, January 31, 2011

Governor Andrew Cuomo is set to release his state budget Tuesday, and it is likely to contain some deep spending cuts. But now Cuomo says the budgeting is more complicated than he’d thought.

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WNYC News

Albany's Top Republican: I Back Cuomo's No-Tax Budget Talk

Friday, January 28, 2011

Governor Andrew Cuomo is set to announce his budget proposal next week, and he's getting some rhetorical backing from Albany's top Republican: Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.

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WNYC News

Queens Library Turns the Page on Buying New Books

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Queens Library, one of the city's public libraries experiencing the budget squeeze, is taking an unprecedented step in its 104 year history and has stopped buying books.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Nassau County Takeover?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Geoffrey Walter, editor of the Mineola Patch, and Newsday columnist Joye Brown report on the possibility that Nassau County's finances will be taken over by the Nassau County Interim Finance Authority.

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Transportation Nation

California Budget: On Balance, Not Bad for Transportation

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

(San Francisco–Casey Miner, KALW News) Governor Jerry Brown’s budget proposal is devastating to many services across the state. But it would bring funding for transportation back to about what it was last year – and on balance, transportation advocates say that’s all they could ask for.

“We don’t love it, but it sets a baseline,” said Randy Rentschler, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. “Bringing stability to transportation is a very good thing.”

If enacted, the budget would reinstate a complex fuel tax swap that allocated about 75% of fuel excise tax revenues to public transportation funding. Last fall’s passage of Proposition 22 prevents the state from raiding that money to reimburse the General Fund, and Governor Brown’s budget proposes to use truck weight fees to fill the resulting budget gap – rather than making additional transportation cuts. So while the new budget doesn’t exactly shower the transportation sector with cash, it would restore enough funding for local agencies to maintain current service.

“If the budget stands, AC Transit, BART and other agencies will actually do a bit better,” said Rentschler. “Is it going to save them? No. But is it helpful? Yes.”

Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter.

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