ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
This is All Things Considered from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel. In New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled his preliminary budget for next year. And unless something changes, Bloomberg predicts, New Yorkers will pay more in taxes, and more than 20,000 city employees could lose their jobs. Here's NPR's Robert Smith.
ROBERT SMITH: There is a classic strategy to presenting a proposed city budget. You have to make it realistic enough to actually implement but frightening enough so that hopefully someone, somewhere will come to your rescue. Mayor Bloomberg has the scary part down.
Mayor MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (New York City): New York City, we're forecasting 300,000 job losses. It is very worrisome. If you have these number of jobs lost, revenues go down.
SMITH: Luckily, the city saw it coming and last fall cut $2 billion from its budget. Now comes the really hard part, Bloomberg has to make up $4 billion more in next year's budget.
Mayor BLOOMBERG: You can only get so much blood out of a stone and after that, this is a headcount thing.
SMITH: Which of course is a polite way of saying layoffs. Mayor Bloomberg painted the picture of New York City in the year 2010 - a smaller police force, fewer sanitation workers picking up more garbage on every route, fire engines with four men instead of five. And as for the classrooms - well, the state of New York will cut hundreds of millions of dollars in school funding for New York City and Bloomberg says, he has little choice on how to make that up.
Mayor BLOOMBERG: What does the $770 million translate to? Well, it translates to roughly 14,000 teachers.
SMITH: Holding a budget gun to the head of city teachers has a way of getting people's attention, and Bloomberg did have some ransom demands. The Federal government or the state could step up and provide more money. City unions could make concessions on health care and pensions, and he could raise the city sales tax by a quarter of a percent. But the future of those 14,000 teachers and the other city workers, Bloomberg said, is essentially out of his hands.
Mayor BLOOMBERG: Nobody knows what the economy is going to do, what the state is going to do or the Federal government is going to do.
SMITH: At least New Yorkers can't say they weren't warned. Robert Smith, NPR News New York.
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