Last week, Mayor Bloomberg and the New York City Council agreed upon a $68.5 billion budget covering fiscal year 2012-13, several days ahead of the June 30 deadline. The new budget is noteworthy for its restoration of $150 million for early childhood and Out of School Time (OST) programs, along with restorations for a range of other services within the city.
Previously, Bloomberg had proposed cutting after-school programs for elementary and middle school students by 43 percent, plus additional cuts for childcare vouchers and high school OST programs. Had the cuts been implemented, childcare and after-school programs would have been eliminated for 47,000 children. However, nonprofit service providers and their supporters launched Campaign for Children in reaction to the proposed cuts, advocating for restoration of the funding through a high-profile series of rallies, press conferences, and letter-writing campaigns.
After weeks of protesting by parents, teachers, and service providers, it was announced that funding for these programs would be fully restored for the new fiscal year. In fact, $75 million more will be added to childcare and OST programs than was included in the previous year's budget. It should be noted that out of the restored funding, only $41 million will be base lined, while the remainder of the money will come out of the City Council's discretionary funding. Discretionary funding is only assigned for a one-year period, meaning that the funding could possibly be in jeopardy again for next year's budget. The specifics on how the 2012-13 discretionary funding will be distributed to individual programs is still unknown.
Meanwhile, funding for the city's public libraries has also been a contentious issue for the 2012-13 budget. Library funding had been at risk for a $90 million cut that would have resulted in the closing of 12 branches. As things currently stand, Mayor Bloomberg has stated that the libraries will be receiving approximately the same amount of funding as last year, while Councilman Dominic Recchia Jr., head of the finance committee, has suggested that the amount would be somewhat less.
You can find out more about funding for city services by browsing Schedule C of the new budget, available online. In addition, the New York Nonprofit Press has published a very in-depth article on the restoration of funding for children's services, and even more budget coverage can be found on NBC New York and New York Amsterdam News.
-- Tracy Kaufman
Foundation Center-New York