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NYC Faces $1 Billion in Budget Cuts

February 15, 2011
NEW YORK—On Sunday, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) published a report analyzing the proposed Republican budget plan, which will be voted on this week.

The congressman said that while there is a deficit that needs to be reduced, this plan is cutting the wrong corners.

“We have found that nearly a billion dollars worth of services that are provided by different government programs are getting cut. Yet programs like [those of] the Department of Defense are held almost entirely harmless,” Weiner said.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers has stated that the total debt has run up to $14 trillion.

“This legislation includes the largest reduction in discretionary spending in the history of our nation, five times larger than any other discretionary cut package ever considered by the House,” Rogers said in a press release. “The CR contains over $100 billion in cuts compared to the president’s request—fully meeting the spending reduction goal outlined in the Republican ‘Pledge to America,’ while providing common-sense exceptions for our troops and veterans.”

Rogers added that the decisions were difficult, and that every community will be affected.

If the Republican budget goes through, the impact on New York City will be fairly evident, noted Weiner. Federal grants to the New York Police Department would be decreased by $40 million, which would result in a loss of about 150 officers from the streets. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority would lose $73 million of funding, while education-related programs will suffer a $270 million loss—over $35 million from Title I funding for primary and secondary schools, $210 million in Pell Grants, and over $1400 per child from the Head Start Program.

“There are smart ways and not-so-smart ways to reduce that budget deficit,” Weiner said. “We noticed, for example, that in their budget they still continue the rather obscene tax breaks for oil and gas companies [and] things like large tax cuts for the very wealthy.”

Because the cuts target programs like public transportation and public education, big urban areas such as New York City would be hit the hardest.

The proposed budget also includes major cuts in air traffic control, a safety measure of national concern that translates into an estimated $24 million loss for John F. Kennedy International, LaGuardia, and Newark Liberty International airports.

“It seems mind-boggling that when you say you’re going to protect safety and security, that you would cut the air traffic control systems. It’s clearly a problem,” Weiner asserted. “People of all economic [levels] should be concerned.”

The congressman urged President Barack Obama, who had served an urban district as a senator, to fight for the needed programs. “There are certain programs that really are the difference in many people’s lives in being able to survive,” he said. “You have a high cut here [in the Republicans’ proposal] for the low income heating grant [Low Income Heating and Energy Assistance Program Contingency Fund]; many seniors use this grant to be able to pay the heating bills throughout the wint1er. The president also proposed a cut in this grant, but it was much less draconian.”

Weiner added that he will be proposing some budget cuts of his own, including cuts in oil and gas subsidies, aid to non-democratic countries like Saudi Arabia, and programs that have been overlooked for years that still receive substantial funding with little results.

“If we’re not careful, we will wind up taking [away] some of the safety programs to buffer down the economic times; you start slashing them, and you’re in a very bad place,” Weiner said. “A lot of these programs—like nutrition programs for senior citizens and the police department [programs]— these are things that you want to make sure stay steady even in tough economic times, because they wind up saving a lot of money. Otherwise, you will end up with spikes in crime or seniors becoming ill quicker, which will cost our budget a lot more down the line.”

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