MAYOR BARRY'S 1982 budget, which was made public last week, emphasizes three unimpeachable goals: more jobs, better housing and maintenance of essential public services. But it is one thing to note these universally admired objectives and another to observe the way the proposed budget would seek to reach them.
There can be no dispute that jobs, housing and the repair of city streets are areas that should receive a large chunk of the City's money. Yet the proposal does have startling deficiencies. There is, for instance, a lack of funding for public schools that cries out for argument. The cuts in the school budget would come at a time when Superintendent Vincent Reed is on the brink of pulling the schools out of years of trouble. Enrollment is declining, but inflation in increasing the cost of education. A budget cut now for the schools would be plain wrong, and it's not as if education were unrelated to the jobs goal the mayor has chosen to emphasize. Another unfortunate cut affects the city's prison population. It is in need of increased social services and guards. Recent breakouts and shootings at Lorton and a strike by guards offer proof.
Then there is the problem of how the mayor proposes to actually spend the money for jobs and housing. For example, he would give large amounts to agencies involved in job development, such as the Minority Business Opportunities Commission, the Summer Jobs Program and the scandal-ridden D.C. Chamber of Commerce. Instead of directing funds to afflicted programs such as these in the hope of revitalizing them, the city government would do better to use the money in its effort to attract industry. Tax breaks and zoning in its effort to attract industry. Tax breaks and zoning exemptions could also be used to get business to the city; blue-collar businesses usually want to train their own employees and prefer not to have to depend on the Chamber of Commerce or some government program. This approach would also cost the city less money, possibly freeing up funds for the schools and jails.
Overshadowing these failings, however, is one larger flaw: the mayor's budget fails to cut substantial numbers of city workers. In fact, the bureaucracy, but time and time again the cuts, which are, of course, politically unpopular among government workers, are not made. As a reulst, particular services, such as those associated with schools and the jails, suffer. Now is the time to make those cuts, Mr. Mayor.
The city council and Congress must now review the mayor's budget proposal. They could help by making demands for further cuts in the bureaucracy and supporting increased spending for the schools and jails.