U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills) said the budget proposal unveiled by congressional Republicans would devastate Queens if enacted, saying $167 million in aid to the borough would be cut if they had their way.
“The news is very bad for the city of New York and particularly Queens,” Weiner said Monday as he stood outside Queens College, where he announced that $57 million in Pell Grants, which help low-income residents attend college, would be slashed.
Weiner said the Republicans’ proposed cuts to Pell Grants would make it difficult for 168,000 borough students to attend college.
“Without these Pell Grants, many Queens students are going to find they won’t be able to go to college,” he said.
Weiner said the maximum cut would be $845 per student this year.
“For some students, that will be the difference if they can come back for another semester or not,” the congressman said.
Gabriella Berrezueta, president of Queens College’s Student Association, said she ran her campaign on fighting tuition hikes and Pell Grant reductions.
“It’s not acceptable to cut them, especially in a time of economic crisis,” she said of the grants.
Weiner said the GOP’s budget plan also slashed $47 million from the Public Housing and Capital Operating Fund, which means the borough’s housing projects, such as the Pomonok Houses, would have to put off capital upgrades like new boilers and elevators.
“This tactic going after a city like New York ... is real folly,” Weiner said.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority would see a $20 million cut in funding under the GOP’s plan, Weiner said, meaning the authority would not have money for rail and bus infrastructure and security projects.
The GOP’s proposal also slashes $200,000 in funding for the borough’s senior nutrition programs, the congressman said, which need monies to provide meals.
The congressman said he agrees that spending must be restrained, but argued the country needs to invest in education, and that there are better ways to trim the deficit.
“We all recognize that over the long term, debt and deficit is unsustainable,” Weiner said.
If the Republican plan were to be approved, the congressman said, Queens precincts would lose $12 million in funding — a 40 percent cut from last fiscal year, which would mean 42 fewer police officers would be patrolling the borough’s streets.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz
©2011 Community News Group
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