Mayor de Blasio is set to send out layoff notices Monday, but trimming the city workforce won’t come close to addressing the ginormous fiscal and economic challenges ahead.
Consider the July jobless figures out last week: 15.9 percent statewide, 20 percent (one of five workers) in the city. In The Bronx, 25 percent were jobless, a rate last seen during the Great Depression.
New York’s numbers are far worse than those for the nation, which saw only 10.2 percent of employees off the job. And don’t blame it all on COVID: Last week, the state was posting the third-lowest number of new cases per capita — 22 per 100,000, or almost 90 percent less than Mississippi’s 202 per 100,000.
Do blame Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio for their endless, bizarre, non-science-based COVID rules, particularly in the city: Indoor dining is still banned, theaters closed and even gyms can’t open until Wednesday. All despite scant COVID.
Add to that the post-George Floyd rioting, homeless encampments, surge in violence and general lawlessness, and it’s no wonder hundreds of businesses remain closed, some never to reopen — leaving thousands without work.
The economy’s collapse, meanwhile, deprives the city, state and MTA of enormous tax and fare revenue, popping multibillion-dollar holes in their budgets.
Yet both Cuomo and de Blasio seem to want to keep the economy down, as they fantasize about a federal bailout — and, in the mayor’s case, borrowing billions and saddling future generations with debt. (Sadly, at least one of the leading candidates to replace him, Speaker Corey Johnson, is on board the borrow-it-all train.)
The always-entitled unions aren’t helping. On Wednesday, de Blasio said he’s open to pay freezes or cuts and that the unions are, too. Yet Teamsters Local 237 boss Greg Floyd, who reps a host of city employees, shot back: “I don’t know who he’s talking to,” saying that he won’t go along with any such thing.
Similarly, as MTA head Pat Foye warned of service cuts and fare hikes just to keep anything running, labor vowed “confrontation” if the agency seeks pay or rule changes. To “ask us to step up by opening up our contracts,” huffed union boss John Samuelsen, is “utterly unthinkable.”
De Blasio and Cuomo need to rethink their options: Borrowing shifts the problem, and a DC bailout isn’t likely soon.
The Citizens Budget Commission (and others) offer better ideas:
l Make deeper budget cuts: Even the 22,000 planned layoffs will leave the city with 9,000 more workers than when de Blasio took office.
l insist on union givebacks: Private-sector workers have seen layoffs and pay cuts — why should government workers be spared?
The most effective budget fix? Get the economy going. Fast. Allow indoor dining. Crack down on crime to make businesses safe. Don’t raise taxes — lower them.
Yes, COVID remains a threat. But it’s no longer New York’s biggest worry. The economy is. Focus on that.