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Budget cuts hitting bone, advocates say

<p>Since Carlos Valdez started going to the after-school center for teens at the Lower East Side’s Educational Alliance he’s gone from a C to a B+ student, his SAT scores jumped by 750 points and he was nominated for a scholarship.</p>

Since Carlos Valdez started going to the after-school center for teens at the Lower East Side’s Educational Alliance he’s gone from a C to a B+ student, his SAT scores jumped by 750 points and he was nominated for a scholarship.


In a couple of weeks, the SAT and college prep classes that helped his transformation may be gone.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 would slash Valdez’s program and a host of other social services including childcare, senior centers and libraries. Advocates are alarmed about long-term neighborhood impacts.


“I’ve really relied on this program,” said Valdez, 16, a rising senior who would be the first in his family to go to college. “It’s helping me become independent, but without it I would be lost.”


Every June there’s a “budget dance” where advocates rally against the mayor’s proposed cuts before City Council restores some programs. But this year is different, they say.


“We’re building off of years of cutting away slowly,” said Allison Sesso, deputy director of the Human Services Council advocacy group. “On top of that, there are cuts by the mayor that aren’t typically proposed, so the Council can’t restore everything.”


Her group wants a city sugar tax if the state’s does not pass or a 5-cent plastic bag tax to raise revenues.

 
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