LIBRARIES, BUDGETS, AND POTENTIAL BANKRUPTCY

March 21, 2019 at 5:00 am

New York City could be heading toward bankruptcy, yet Mayor de Blasio’s new budget seeks a three billion dollar increase, with cuts to libraries and many other city agencies.  Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer is here with a plan to help ensure these vital services will remain unscathed.

Aired on March 20, 2019.

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>>> FINANCIAL ANALYSTS ARE
WARNING THAT NEW YORK CITY IS
JUST A SINGLE RECESSION AWAY
FROM BANKRUPTCY.
YET, DESPITE THE WARNINGS MAYOR
de BLASIO HAS PROPOSED TO
INCREASE THE BUDGET BY
$3 BILLION.
AND EVEN THOUGH AT THE SAME TIME
THE MAYOR DID CALL FOR CITY
AGENCIES TO CUT THEIR BUDGETS,
IS IT TIME TO TIGHTEN THE PURSE
STRINGS EVEN MORE ACROSS THE
BOARD OR SHOULD INSTITUTIONS
SUCH AS PUBLIC LIBRARIES BE
EXEMPT FROM ANY POTENTIAL CUT
BACKS?
JOINING US WITH ANSWERS TO THAT
AND OTHER QUESTIONS IS JIMMY VAN
BRAMER, THE CHAIR OF THE
COMMITTEE OF CULTURAL AFFAIRS
AND LIBRARIES.
COUNCIL MEMBER, THANK YOU FOR
JOINING US ONCE AGAIN.
>> THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.
>> GIVE US A SENSE OF WHAT
LIBRARIES WOULD DO BEYOND
LOANING BOOKS AND GIVING QUIET
SPACE FOR STUDY.
>> WELL, LIBRARIES ARE THE
COMMUNITY CENTERS AND REALLY THE
HUBS OF NEIGHBORHOODS ALL ACROSS
NEW YORK CITY AND ALL ACROSS THE
COUNTRY.
THEY ARE SO MUCH MORE THAN BOOKS
AND MATERIALS, ALTHOUGH I MYSELF
STILL LOVE TO READ BOOKS, SO DO
MANY OTHERS.
IT IS WHERE IMMIGRANTS COME TO
LEARN HOW TO READ, WRITE AND
SPEAK ENGLISH FOR FREE.
IT IS WHERE PEOPLE WHO ARE
LOOKING FOR JOBS GO FOR RESUME
WRITING WORKSHOPS AND TO BE
ASSISTED IN THAT SEARCH.
IT'S WHERE HOMELESS INDIVIDUALS
GO OFTEN TO FIND A WARM PLACE TO
SIT.
IT'S WHERE SENIORS GO.
IT IS WHERE EVERYTHING GOOD IN A
NEIGHBORHOOD THAT CAN HAPPEN
REALLY COMES TOGETHER.
SO LIBRARIES ARE MORE IMPORTANT
THAN EVER.
THEY WILL ALWAYS I BELIEVE BE
CRITICAL CIVIC INSTITUTIONS AND
A PART OF THE INFRASTRUCTURE
THAT MAKES FOR GOOD COMMUNITY.
>> MAYOR de BLASIO HAS ALREADY
ALLOCATED IN HIS PROPOSED
BUDGET, HE HAS ALLOCATED
$388 MILLION FOR THE NEW YORK
CITY LIBRARIES.
THAT SOUNDS LIKE A LOT BUT IT'S
ACTUALLY A CUT FROM THE PREVIOUS
YEAR, CORRECT?
>> YEAH.
SO WE'RE LOOKING AT ABOUT A 3%
CUT FOR A PUBLIC LIBRARY SYSTEM.
AND ABOUT $2.5 MILLION FOR
QUEENS AND BROOKLYN, MORE FOR
THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY
WHICH HAS THREE BOROUGHS.
LIBRARIES ARE ESSENTIAL EVERY
DAY, IN ALL TIME.
I WOULD ARGUE THIS IS NOT THE
TIME TO CUT BACK ON THE VITAL
PROGRAMS AND SERVICES THE PUBLIC
LIBRARIES PROVIDE.
IN FACT, WE SHOULD ACTUALLY BE
SEEKING TO EXPAND THOSE
SERVICES.
>> AND THE LIBRARIES ARE WITH
YOUR SUPPORT THEY'RE ASKING FOR
$35 MILLION MORE.
WHAT ARE THEY GOING TO USE WITH
THAT MONEY?
>> WELL, ONE OF THINGS THEY WANT
TO DO IS TO CONTINUE TO PROVIDE
THE SERVICE BUT EXPAND THEIR
SERVICES IN WAYS THAT WOULD
ALLOW PEOPLE TO GET MORE HELP
AND MORE ASSISTANCE.
SO CERTAINLY THEY NEED TO KEEP
PACE WITH THE RISING COSTS.
LIBRARIES ARE NOT IMMUNE TO THE
COSTS OF MATERIALS AND STAFF
TIME AND ALL OTHER KINDS OF
EXPENSES, BUT WHAT WE NEED TO DO
IS TO SEE IF WE CAN INCREASE THE
HOURS AND DAYS OF SERVICE.
IN ORDER TO DO THAT, YOU NEED
SOME MORE RESOURCES TO BE ABLE
TO ALLOW PEOPLE TO GET TO THE
LIBRARY WHEN THEY NEED IT.
LIBRARIES OPEN DURING THE MIDDLE
OF THE DAY IS CERTAINLY HELPFUL
TO SOME OF OUR CITIZENS BUT MANY
FOLKS ARE WORKING AND CAN ONLY
GET TO THE LIBRARIES LATE IN THE
EVENINGS OR WEEKENDS.
>> CORRECT ME IF I'M WRONG, BUT
I THINK IT'S FAIR TO SAY THAT
MAYOR de BLASIO HAS BEEN PRETTY
FRIENDLY TO THE LIBRARIES AND
HE'S CONTINUALLY INCREASED THE
BUDGET EXCEPT FOR THIS YEAR.
HAVE THE LIBRARIES USED THE
MONEY THAT THEY HAVE BEEN GIVEN
WISELY?
>> OH, MY GOODNESS, YES.
FIRST OF ALL, LET ME SAY I
BELIEVE THE CITY COUNCIL HAS LED
THE FIGHT FOR THE LIBRARIES'
BUDGETS TO BE INCREASED BUT I
WILL BEGRUDGE THE ADMINISTRATION
FOR HAVING SHOWN SUPPORT FOR
LIBRARIES AS WELL.
AND LIBRARIES USED THE MONEY
WELL?
LIBRARIES GIVE YOU THE BEST BANG
FOR YOUR BUCK IN MUNICIPAL
GOVERNANCE.
WHEN IT COMES TO THE AMOUNT OF
PEOPLE SERVED, WE ARE TALKING
ABOUT TENS OF MILLIONS OF PEOPLE
STREAMING INTO THE LIBRARIES IN
NEW YORK.
OVER 200 LIBRARIES.
WHEN WE SEE THE USAGE, WHEN WE
SEE THE DIFFERENCE THEY'RE
MAKING IN THE LIVES OF
IMMIGRANTS, IN THIS CITY, AND
WE'RE TALKING ABOUT ALL
IMMIGRANTS, RIGHT?
THIS IS A SANCTUARY CITY.
LIBRARIES WERE THE ORIGINAL
SANCTUARY IN THE SANCTUARY
CITIES, ALLOWING UNDOCUMENTED
AND DOCUMENTED ALIKE TO COME IN
AND GET BOOKS, TO READ, WRITE
AND LEARN HOW TO SPEAK ENGLISH
FOR FREE.
THAT'S IMPORTANT IN A CITY LIKE
OURS THAT CLAIMS TO BE
PROGRESSIVE.
>> AS I SAID IN THE INTRODUCTION
AS YOU WELL KNOW, SOME FINANCIAL
EXPERTS ARE SAYING NOW THAT
WE'RE JUST ONE RECESSION AWAY
FROM BANKRUPTCY AND IN HIS
BUDGET PROPOSAL THE MAYOR WAS
PRETTY GRIM IN THE OUTLOOK.
FIRST OF ALL, DO YOU AGREE WITH
THOSE ASSESSMENTS OF OUR
ECONOMIC SITUATION?
>> I DO NOT AGREE THAT WE ARE
CLOSE TO BANKRUPTCY.
I AGREE WITH THE MAYOR THAT THE
BOND RATING WAS RATED HIGHER AS
A SIGN OF OUR PRUDENCE AND
FISCAL STRENGTH IN THE CITY.
OBVIOUSLY WE NEED TO BE PRUDENT
IN THE FACE OF THE POTENTIAL FOR
THE ECONOMY TO SLOW DOWN.
I THINK WE HAVE DONE THAT WITH
ESTABLISHING SOME RESERVES OVER
THE LAST SEVERAL YEARS WITH THE
COUNCIL AND THIS MAYOR WORKING
TOGETHER.
CERTAINLY WE CAN DO MORE, BUT
IT'S IMPORTANT NOT TO CUT THE
SERVICES THAT THE MOST
VULNERABLE NEW YORKERS RELY ON.
>> YOUR COMMITTEE OVERSEES ARTS
AND CULTURAL ACTIVITIES IN THE
CITY.
ACCORDING TO THE CITY OF
CULTURAL AFFAIRS THE BUDGET FOR
2019 WAS THE HIGHEST EVER AT
$189 MILLION.
IT HAS BEEN CUT FOR FISCAL YEAR
2020.
IS THAT AN AREA THAT YOU CAN SEE
IF NECESSARY SOME POTENTIAL
CUTS?
>> SO CULTURE AND THE ARTS LIKE
LIBRARIES REALLY SUSTAINS US AS
A CITY.
CULTURE AND THE ARTS ACTUALLY
DRIVES INCOME TO THE CITY OF NEW
YORK.
WE KNOW 65 MILLION TOURISTS A
YEAR COME TO NEW YORK CITY.
77% OF THEM RATE CULTURE AND THE
ART AS THE FIRST OR SECOND
REASON WHY THEY COME TO THIS
CITY AND THAT GENERATES BILLIONS
IN REVENUE.
YOU CUT THE ARTS, YOU'RE CUTTING
OFF YOUR NOSE TO SPITE YOUR
FACE.
>> ALL RIGHT.
COUNCIL MEMBER VAN BRAMER, THANK
YOU FOR JOINING US AGAIN.
>> THANK YOU.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

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