It’s budget season for many cities, including New York, most of which start fiscal year 2013 on July 1. I like this summary of the NYC budget process, which seems pretty universal:
Every year, the mayor proposes cutting certain vital city programs and then, at the last minute, the City Council comes to the rescue by restoring at least some of the money.
Council members look like heroes and the mayor gets himself a point or two toward future favors.
It’s a little like professional wrestling.
Of course, some years the mayor means it, and then it’s a little like the war on terror.
One of the proposed victims of cuts this year, is the city’s after-school programs, and no one seems to know whether these are for real:
When it comes to cutting, it’s hard to know which mayor will show up to the budget dance, Fred Astaire or Sweeney Todd. “I know the budget dance,” said Michelle Yanche, a leader of the Campaign for Children, an advocacy group. “I’ve been watching budget dances for 20 years. This is not your normal budget dance.”
Ms. Yanche said an indicator of the mayor’s seriousness was that since 2009, he reduced money going to after-school programs by $30 million. Along with the proposed cuts, it means that 58,000 fewer children will be in after-school programs than in 2009.
The mayor is committed to balancing the budget without raising taxes, [spokesperson] Ms. Collins said, and even with the cuts, more children would be accommodated than when Mr. Bloomberg was first elected a decade ago. “We are hopeful that the initiative will grow and thrive when more prosperous economic times return,” she said.
Much of the article is devoted to exposing the Kafkaesque logic that such cuts (particularly in education) seem to follow: the best program, the one used as a model for evaluating all the other programs, is slated to be closed.