Runaway & Homeless Youth Services and Council-Funded HIV Rapid Testing will not face cuts in FY 2011 Financial Plan

January 6, 2010, New York, NY – As a result of extensive negotiations over the past six weeks, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn and Finance Committee Chair Domenic M. Recchia Jr. today announced that the Council and Administration have reached a budgetary agreement on the Fiscal Year 2011 financial plan. The agreement will achieve the same level of spending reductions proposed by Mayor Bloomberg in the November financial plan, but will restore certain cuts that the Council believed would be particularly harmful.

The agreement includes a full restoration of funding for drop-in and outreach services for LGBTQ youth and a full restoration of Council-funded HIV rapid testing. The Council had outlined a number of problematic cuts that had been proposed within the November Plan and worked to prevent these services from being cut. The Council, including Youth Services Chair Lewis A. Fidler then lobbied for alternative cuts that could be made, a number of which have been accepted by the administration.

The Council proposed alternative cuts and sources of savings in order to pay for its proposed restorations. Together, the alternative cuts and identified savings achieve the Council’s goal of reducing spending while preventing cuts to programs that serve New York City’s most vulnerable groups.

“I am thrilled that the Council has been able to restore these services to runaway & homeless youth, so many of whom who are LGBTQ. While I recognize the difficult times we face, I absolutely oppose balancing our budget on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens,” said Speaker Quinn. “We can – and must – do better than this for our children. We worked to secure funding for programs that serve the most vulnerable new Yorkers and to find alternative savings in order to reach a fiscally responsible budget that meets the needs of all New Yorkers.”

“On behalf of the 3,800 runaway and homeless youth who sleep on our City streets every night, I say thank you,” said Youth Services Committee Chair Lewis A. Fidler. “This cut was one of the cruelest cuts on the list. I am overjoyed that we were not only able to restore the City tax levy cuts to these services, but the State cuts as well. Thanks to Speaker Quinn and LGBTQ advocates for their steadfast support and advocacy. This action represents “doing the Right Thing” with a capital R and a capital T. I hope that the advocacy we have seen in recent weeks is just the beginning of a movement to show the political will and muscle that will allow us to get services to every child who is homeless on our city’s streets.”

The Council’s efforts were successful in preventing proposed budget cuts including:

• Department of Health – Funds for Rapid HIV testing, Child Health Clinics and developmental disability clinics have been restored.

• Youth Programs – runaway homeless youth programs, serving youth who often have nowhere to turn for help, will be fully restored. Additionally, important afterschool and literacy programs have also been saved.

• The Administration for Children’s Services – the Council prevented the layoffs of well over 100 ACS staff, including child welfare workers, child and family care specialists and child protective services staff. All of these agency workers serve on the frontlines of protecting New York’s vulnerable children.

• Senior Services – case management services will be fully restored. Case management services are a vital resource seniors depend on, the gateway to services that they turn to when they are in need of any assistance from finding food programs and delivery to health benefit programs.

• Fire Companies – proposed nighttime closures of firehouses have been deferred in the November Plan but will be further evaluated in future budgets. The Council recognizes the city may still face the possibility of closures once further budget cuts need to be made. Over the next several months, the Council will be evaluating this closely, with a particular focus on how potential closures would impact public safety.

• Parking Meters – increases to parking meter rates outside of Manhattan and above 86th Street in Manhattan have been deferred.

• Recreation Centers – membership fees will remain at their current rates, and will not double as was proposed.

The Council, fully recognizing the need for budget reductions, identified responsible means of funding the programs and services that were protected. Over the past several weeks, the Council has examined each agency’s spending and proposed alternative cuts or sources of savings in the City budget. After weeks of negotiations between the Council and Administration, the two sides agreed on a package of alternative cuts and identified savings to fund the restored services. Included in the Council’s budget reductions are:

• $4.5 million reduction in Department of Education contractual services, including IT consultant contracts and professional development services contracts
• $200,000 reduction in spending on evaluation of Center for Economic Opportunity programs
• $16 million in underspending; including tuition payments for City students enrolled in upstate community colleges; worker’s compensation payments; and mental health hearings to determine competency to stand trial, among others
• $4.5 million in additional agency personal services budget savings.

The FY11 Financial Plan was released on November 18th. The Council held hearings on the cuts presented in the plan, totaling 13.5 hours of public testimony and questioning. Negotiations with the Administration continued throughout the following weeks, resulting in the agreement announced today.