The COVID-19 pandemic that has taken over our nation has caused a decline in our economy by disrupting the city’s businesses, and more importantly, our schools and public services. For months, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and state budget officials have warned that New York and local governments would have to make extreme cuts to essential services including law enforcement, fire departments, and schools due to lack of additional federal stimulus money. Within these cuts, primary education is the most recent victim of the cutbacks, causing local school districts to announce possible layoffs and moving to more remote learning in order to save money. The City University of New York schools were among the first of the university institutions within New York State to experience budget cuts, those of which equated to about $270 million in late June. CUNY officials blame the Professional Staff Congress, the labor union who represents 30,000 CUNY faculty and staff, for the laying off of nearly 3,000 adjuncts who were not asked to return for fall semester simply because the union would not extend the deadline for returning teachers on limited-term contracts. The implications of the budget cuts in New York hit CUNY schools when Brooklyn College’s administrators requested that departments cancel over 25% of fall courses, and when the two-year academic CUNY program that aids students in receiving special support to help them transition into the workforce or a 4- year college, ASAP, had to cut its funds.
These budget cuts have affected the jobs of important service workers such as EMTs, as New York City has been left with no choice but to lay off 400 emergency medical workers. According to Business Insider’s article by Bill Bostock, “Bill Neidhardt, a City Hall spokesperson, told NBC News that the city ‘does not want these layoffs to happen, but this is the hole we are in without a stimulus or borrowing authority. Our EMTs and firefighters save lives every day and we are working with their unions to find personnel savings to avoid layoffs, but unfortunately all agencies will face layoffs,’ the spokesperson said. ‘Without a stimulus or borrowing authority, EMTs and firefighters will have to find personnel savings’.”
New York received $5.1 billion from the federal government to cover COVID related costs and has already spent $2.2 billion so far, but the state’s budget plan estimates that the remaining aid will be spent by the end of the year. According to Times Union’s article by Amanda Fries, she states “De Rugy and New York University Economics Professor Nicholas Economides say rather than doling out more federal aid to state and local governments, leaders should identify where expenses can be reduced, and productivity increased with fewer employees.” Economides gave their input on Cuomo’s calls for federal aid by stating, “It seems to me like the governor has put all his hope on the federal money, and getting money from the federal government, and that’s extremely dangerous. It’s possible to do technological changes that allow you to do things more efficiently, and that seriously needs to be taken into consideration.”