NYTimes: New York’s Children Shouldn’t Pay the Price
Mayor Michael Bloomberg this week put out his revised proposal for the next city budget — a $68.7 billion plan that spares teachers, police and firefighters but slashes vital programs for needy children. That is not the way to balance a budget.
The mayor’s budget and other changes will result in losses of about $150 million to city day-care and after-school programs. The programs are a lifeline for the working poor — without them many parents would have to give up their jobs and stay home to care for their children. They are also vital for children and young people who need the extra preparation the programs provide. The City Council can usually be counted on to restore some of these cuts. But it must fight even harder to expand the programs, not allow them to diminish every year.
The city’s child-care and after-school programs have been cut from 137,000 places in 2009 to 94,000 today. The new budget would reduce that further to about 53,000. In these hard economic times, the need, and the waiting lists, are growing.
Mayor Bloomberg on Friday announced that a program called Early Learn NYC would cover about 43,000 of the 50,000 children now in city child care and Head Start programs. The program sounds promising, with nutrition and health care provided along with childhood education. But 7,000 children should not be dropped from the rolls.
On Thursday the mayor boasted that this budget had no new taxes and no cuts for teachers, police officers and firefighters. When pressed about the cut in children’s programs, he said, “The city cannot do everything for everybody.” That is true. But Mr. Bloomberg and the Council need to do a lot more for the city’s neediest children.