Last week Mayor Bloomberg took the first step in the City’s Fiscal Year 2013 “budget dance” by releasing his Preliminary Budget proposal. While the proposal did not contain new cuts to human services, it reflects $185 million in lost funding for human services because of budget modifications made in November as well as the automatic removal of funds restored by the City Council in the adopted budget last year. A comprehensive list of those cuts, totaling $154.37 million and the summary of cuts enacted in November 2011 can be found here. These cuts come after approximately $165 million in lost human services in the last two adopted budgets ($45 million in FY11 and $120 million in FY12).
Service cuts not only hurt people in need, but the low wage workforce that serves them. HSC estimates that we have lost a total of 5,500 jobs based on previous cuts and can expect to lose an additional 6,200 jobs if the proposed cuts of $185 million go through. We need to re-invest in programs that are proven to be cost-effective and help people become and remain employed. Human services help people get and keep jobs; they stabilize families by securing food, healthcare, housing, afterschool, child and elder care, and more. These services also promote work-readiness through literacy programs, employment and training services, resume and job search assistance and other career preparation. We hope that this time, the budget negotiation process reflects a recognition of the role human services play as employers and as agents in removing barriers to work for struggling families.
The next steps in the process include City Council preliminary budget public hearings in March and the development of a formal public response to the Mayor’s proposal outlining the Council’s budget priorities released in April. In early May the Mayor will put forward his Executive Budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2013. The Council will hold more public hearings and prioritize restorations. This is when the approximately $150 million in human service programs that gets cut year after year will either be added to the budget or disappear forever. By the end of June a new budget will be adopted in time for the start of the 2013 Fiscal Year, which begins on July 1, 2012.
Tell your Council rep and the Mayor that you care about human services and urge them to prioritize funds for these critical work support programs. Everything you need to reach out is here. Who Cares? You Do!
Contributed by Allison Sesso of the Human Services Council