Queens faces major cuts in Cuomo’s budget

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The $132.9 billion budget proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo was not kind to the city, especially Queens, as tens of millions in cuts would be affected if his agenda moves forward.

Cuomo’s budget, a starting point in negotiations between the governor and the state Legislature, includes the second consecutive year that the city will not be getting $300 million in aid to municipalities, or AIM, funding.

The governor argued the city, unlike other cities and towns and villages in the state, has multiple sources for generating revenue, including a personal income tax.

During testimony Monday in Albany, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Cuomo’s budget plans reduce aid to the city by $2.1 billion, including a $1.4 billion cut in public school aid, $380 million in cuts and cost shifts in social services and $300 million in AIM funding.

Bloomberg said Cuomo’s budget was unfair to the city, which the state heavily relies upon for revenue.

“As you may know, New York City produces roughly half of all state tax revenues — we give far more than we get back,” the mayor said. “So eliminating these $300 million in state funds would worsen an already pronounced imbalance of payments between New York City and Albany. It also would aggravate an already difficult budget season in our city.”

Bloomberg also told the Legislature the city faces “the prospect of heavy layoffs, especially in our schools,” but he said it is too early to tell how many city jobs would be lost under Cuomo’s plan.

In Cuomo’s budget, virtually no program was spared from cuts — ranging from Medicaid to education and senior centers.

Under Cuomo’s plan, the city’s university system — which includes Queens College, Queensborough Community College, LaGuardia Community College and the CUNY Law School in Flushing — would be cut by $37 million.

State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Higher Education Committee, said Cuomo’s plan would be devastating for Queens’ CUNY institutions.

“This has gone on for many years. It’s been a slow erosion of state support for higher education over the last 30 years,” she said. “The result will be smaller class sizes, fewer courses offered, fewer full-time faculty and it will take even longer for students to graduate.”

Also included in Cuomo’s budget is a $27 million slash in funding to senior centers across the state in a time when the borough’s centers are struggling to survive.

“As far as I’m concerned, funds to needy populations should always be preserved,” said Carol Hunt, executive director of the Friendship Center in Jamaica, which recently won a battle with the city to stay afloat. “If [the state] is not going to do it, who’s going to do it? I feel it is their responsibi­lity.”

City Comptroller John Liu told Albany that the city has had to “tighten its budgetary belt many times over the last few years and has made the necessary and difficult cuts to balance its budget.

“Further cuts to the city’s budget will require painful reductions in many core service areas. The most immediate and worrying of the reductions would be the elimination of thousands of pedagogical positions in New York City’s public schools,” he said. “If the governor is truly interested in maximizing economic development investments, he should look no further than the investment in our children’s education.”

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Updated 10:41 am, October 12, 2011
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