Chaz wrote yesterday about the city having ended the fiscal year with a record surplus of close to $6 billion according to Comptroller Scott Stringer. In May, just two months back, the Independent Budget Office was projecting a city surplus of only $3 billion for the fiscal year that just ended in June.
It is not that surprising when actual receipts come in ahead of forecasts but to almost double the surplus from the projections in just over two months seems a little unusual.
Notice there isn't much talk about this in the press. All we could find in a search was the Daily News piece that Chaz cited. Everyone seems to want to hide the fact that the city has so much money.
We will once again take the opportunity to criticize Michael Mulgrew for claiming that the cupboard was bare when he sold us his austerity style contract with 10% salary increases over 7 years plus one month for UFT members and also taking the 4% +4% the city owed us from 2009-2011 in delayed payments that will stretch to 2020. Throw health benefits concessions into this contract and worsening conditions for Absent Teacher Reserves and it is truly a lousy deal. The fact that Mulgrew was not able to make any real working condition gains under these circumstances truly shows how badly the UFT was taken to the cleaners by the city. Whether it was incompetence or a true sell out is up to readers to decide. It's difficult to swallow that Mulgrew and company could legitimately make the case that the city was in bad shape financially.
Instead of continuing to look back, let's try to look ahead. Why are school budgets not at full funding for this year? Look at this from the Department of Education budget page for schools:
"The transition from the 2014-2015 school year to the 2015-2016 school year ensures that schools are allocated the same base-lined funds they received in the prior year with adjustments only for changes in the number and needs of students, and for changes to the citywide average salary."
Translation: School budgets are frozen and, as I read this, budgets might even be cut if the average salary goes up because schools will have a higher cost per employee but the finding is the same as last year.
How is this possible when the city is swimming in black ink and the state is supposed to be providing an increase in school aid?
Why are we still operating basically under austerity conditions in the schools?
Where is our union to expose this? Oh I forgot, they have their seat at the table. We wouldn't want to get Mayor Bill de Blasio or Chancellor Carmen Fariña angry.
Only groups opposed to Mulgrew's Unity Caucus such as ICE and MORE along with some parent organizations and other education advocates are fighting back. If you have thirty seconds, you might want to sign this petition to lower class sizes. The city can certainly afford it and has plenty of Absent Teacher Reserves available to staff the classrooms.