Tolling Bridges, Taxing Rich, Chaining City Workers to Desks Among City’s Budget Options (Village Voice news blog)

The New York City Independent Budget Office has released its eagerly awaited budget options report – okay, eagerly awaited by some people – and I break down the highlights Hint: When raising income taxes looks like the good option, you know things aren’t going well.

This morning the city’s Independent Budget Office issued its annual Budget Options document, a sprawling list of ways for the city to either save money or raise revenue. In past years, this was the kind of thing that only got policy wonks’ hearts a-flutter; now, with the city staring down the barrel of $5 billion budget deficits, and Congress looking more interested in tax cuts than in riding to local governments’ rescue, some of the ideas in the IBO report may end up becoming reality quicker than you’d think.

The first thing that’s clear: There’s just not all that much to easily cut. While the IBO throws out plenty of ideas for savings – from “eliminate grass clippings from trash collection” to “replace late-night service on the Staten Island Ferry with buses” – most of these would save only a few million dollars, not even enough to pay more than a few hours’ worth of the city’s looming deficits… [read more]