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Bloomberg unveils leaner, $65B NYC budget

Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Friday unveiled a shrinking budget that would cut corners throughout New York City -- from classrooms, where public school children stand to lose one out of 12 teachers, to jails, where officials are saving pennies by cutting items like bread, pepper and ketchup from the menu.

The $65.72-billion budget, which is likely to change before it wins approval from the City Council, also calls for a 12 percent cut to the city's libraries, the closure of some city swimming pools and the loss of 20 fire companies -- a step that the city's fire commissioner said would slow firefighters' response times.

Bloomberg placed the blame for the city's financial woes on cutbacks handed down by state and federal legislators, and on what he said was a national movement against funding government efforts. Business tax revenue has surpassed the level they were at before the collapse of the financial sector, he said.

"We are not an island. We are not immune to the reality in Albany and in Washington," he said. "Both places are keeping more of our tax dollars to close their own budget deficits."

The loss of 6,166 public-school teacher jobs would include an anticipated 4,100 layoffs. It would be the first time the city's public school teachers would get pink slips since the 1970s.

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said Friday that class sizes could grow by two or three children, and Bloomberg said elementary schools in poor neighborhoods would be affected the most.

In his speech, the mayor said he expected criticism, and the teachers' union promptly complied.

"Same smoke, same mirrors, same attempt to blame others for his decision to lay off thousands of teachers, despite increased state aid, hundreds of millions in new revenues and a surplus that has grown to more than $3.2 billion," United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew said.

Bloomberg and the council must agree on a balanced budget by June. While this year's proposed budget -- for fiscal year 2012, which begins July 1 -- is balanced, the mayor said the city faces projected budget gaps of about $4.8 billion next year and $5.3 billion in fiscal 2015.

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