11:31 am Sep. 21, 2012
Michael Bloomberg came in for some criticism this morning for not doing more to change the structure of the city's budget, and for leaving his predecessor the same deficit he inherited when he took office in 2002.
He was also faulted for using the revenue generated from fines to pay for city expenses.
The criticism from Nicole Gelinas, a budget analyst with the Manhattan Institute, was published in the New York Post, and was sparked by the mayor's latest call for reductions in agency spending. The money saved there will later be used to plug the budget deficit, a maneuver some say is a band-aid on top of a problem that needs more permanent changes, like a renegotiation of pension benefits for union workers and wholesale cutbacks in social service spending.
Gelinas also criticized Bloomberg for including in his last budget togethermoney he expects to get from the sale of taxi medallions, an initiative that is currently mired in litigation.
On his radio show this morning, Bloomberg defended his budget practices as prudent.
"Somebody wrote a column on one of the blogs," the mayor said, paraphrasing the critique as, "'Oh, we shouldn't have relied on one-shots.'
"Well, what are the one shots?" he asked rhetorically. "When things were good, we put money away for when things are tough. That's not a one-shot, that's intelligent planning. You do the same thing in your personal life. You save money." He said ultimately, "That's not bad policy."
Bloomberg also defended how revenues from fines are used as part of his budget.
"When the newspapers [complain] 'They're using fines to raise revenue'--okay. What's wrong with that? It is better than a tax because you don't have to run through a red light, but you do have to pay your taxes."
Generating revenues from fines is one of the common complaints from potential mayoral candidates, including Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
The mayor, an independent who once considered running for president in 2008, also criticized lawmakers in Washington for leaving the capital this week without doing more to help the economy. The mayor's co-host, John Gambling, said it was the earliest the Congress has gone into recess before an election since 1960.
"If I tried to do that, could you imagine?" Bloomberg said. "You'd be all over me. The New York press would be all over me."
Bloomberg, who is reportedly going to announce his support for a package of austerity measures at a Conservative Party conference in England next month, faulted American lawmakers for spending federal money to create jobs that the private sector should be generating.
"I love this," the mayor said. "The Democrats want more public sector jobs. That's their solution to everything. Republicans say, 'Oh that's terrible, we should let the market place work,' and then they go and spend federal monies to create jobs. It's private sector but it's public money and they build weapons the military services don't need."
"It is," the mayor said, "not a lot of difference in all fairness."