The major is sanguine, the director of the symphony is worried, the school cafeteria director fears poor families will suffer and the head of the county hospital says President Reagan's proposed cap on Medicaid will simply make a horrible problem worse.
There is no way to calibrate precisely one city's contributions to Ronald Reagan's New Beginning, but in Albuquerque, as in all American cities, an audit of pain is under way. The effects of the Reagan revolution fall unevenly here, as they must all across the country. Suffering will be largely personal, muffled, invisible to the community at large.
"There's no doubt that some people, particular among the poor, are going to be hard hit," said Mayor David Rusk.
In some ways, Albuquerque may be in better shape to absorb the administration's budget cuts than other cities in the United States. New industry is pouring into the area, with the promise of 10,000 new jobs. The Department of Defense, through Kirtland Air Force Base, which houses the Air Force Weapons Center and the Air Force Evaluation and Testing Center, plus Sandia Laboratory, puts more than $1 billion annually into the community. Finally, Mayor Rusk, the son of former secretary of state Dean Rusk, gradually has reduced the city's dependence on the federal government.
"For the past several years, we've been weaning ourselves away from the feds," he said. Federal money made up 33 percent of the city's capital budget for 1979-80; and 1981-82, it will be just 9 percent. In 1978, there were 1,200 people in public service jobs; today there are 500.
Still, the impact of Reagan's cuts will be widespread, because this city is attached to Uncle Sam like strings to a puppeteer.
"We've been doing a lot of quick shifting," said Ida Pearle (Skootie) Jeffers, the city's capital budget director.
The Reagan revolution, if it succeeds, will do much more than simply redistribute money. It will redistribute power -- and not just from Washington to the local level, but from local officials to ordinary citizens. City priorities will be influenced less by the availability of federal matching grants than the approval of local citizens. Hard choices will have to be made.
Washington paid 80 percent of the cost of Albuquerque's 82 buses and provides about 35 percent of their operating costs. Plans for an additional 50 buses may have to be scrapped, and the elimination of operating subsidies will force either highers fares or higher taxes. "This will be the clearest test of supplanting local effort for federal effort," Rusk said.
The construction of a $40 million airport for general aviation aircraft may be delayed for several years because airport construction grants are being phased out. Similarly, plans to resurface part of the main runway and build a new ramp and taxiway at Albuquerque International Airport may require local financing if the $16.5 million in federal money is lost.
The budget cuts may prevent the city from purchasing 8,100 acres of wilderness in the Sandia Mountains that Rusk had hoped to keep out of developers' hands. The city had worked out a deal that called for Albuquerque to put up $5.7 million and the federal government $18.8 million.
Last Tuesday, Rusk made a hasty trip to Washington to plead his case for continuing the deal in the face of Reagan's proposal to quit buying parkland. He came back pessimistic. Not only may the city lose the land, but it also could be forced to forfeit a $1.6 million parking garage signed over to the owners of the land to obtain the purchase option at a fixed price.
"I have no idea where it [the land program] will go from here," Rusk said.
Other cuts will mean other changes. Without a scheduled $60 million in federal money, the expansion and upgrading of the sewer system will be delayed. Without the Economic Development Administration, the renovation of Albuquerque's old Kimo Theater may be halted and a new downtown mall will have to look for other funding.
With education assistance coming in the form of block grants, support for compensatory or bilingual education could suffer. Without Comprehensive Employment and Training Act funds, the YMCA may have to raise the price of swimming lessons and the Catholic Social Security Services may cut back on its program to help immigrants. "We have 300 active cases and a long waiting list," said CSS director Hector Rodriguez. "We need more help."
Sharp reductions in federal support for the arts will cut into the New Mexico Symphony's touring schedule around the state and -- more troubling to symphony director William Weinrod -- may delay indefinitely the time when the orchestra can afford to put all its musicians on salary. "Some of our people . . . may find they cannot afford to be orchestra musicians in Albuquerque," Weinrod said.
If all of Reagan's proposed cuts go through, the future of services will fall to the citizens of Albuquerque.
"We have a steadily growing economy," Rusk said. "We have a unified tax base and we maintain a relatively moderate level of taxation. Where we have the will to do something, we have the ability. But it may come at the cost of a few incumbents like me becoming nonincumbents."
But Reagan's revolution falls harder on people dependent on the government for direct assistance, and there is little likelihood that the local or state govenment will take up much of the burden.
Albuquerque schools provide about 21,000 free meals to students each day and offer 4,000 at the subsidized rate of 20 cents each. Some of the students gettings subsidized lunches will be forced to pay the full cost of 75 cents (higher if the budget cuts require an overall price increase.) That will cost a family $73.50 a year per child, rather than $21. The savings from thhe administration's proposed tax cut for a family of four with an income of $10,000 would not even cover that cost.
"Oh, my God, yes, it will hurt," said Donald Manzanares, director of cafeteria services.
Food stamp cuts will fall most heavily on low-income families with children receiving free school lunches, according to Jane Cotter of the state's Department of Human Services.
"AFDC [aid to families with dependent children] people rely on food stamps to purchase all their food," she said, "so it will be felt.
Cuts in student aid designed to end government subsidies for wealthy families may have a different effect at the University of New Mexico, where the guaranteed student loan program provides about $4 million in aid. "It will be the next-to-needy families who will be affected most," said John Perovich, vice president for finance.
The unemployment rate in Albuquerque is about 8 percent, but because the city is in the Sun Belt, it would seem to be a good place to test the administration's proposed changes in unemployment insurance. Reagan's budget document argues that the current unemployment insurance system "discourages workers from seeking employment in new industries which, while they pay lower wages initially, hold the prospect of growing employment and new careers."
Here, there is a different view.
"We have no jobs that offer new careers," said Pat McCrossen of the state's employment commissions. "We have dead-end jobs that pay the minimum wage. Jobs here are going unfilled, not because people getting unemployment insurance aren't taking them, but because they require training or experience or both that the average unemployed person here does not have."
The one person in Albuquerque who refuses to worry about budget cuts is Bernalillo County hospital administrator William H. Johnson Jr., who gets 14 percent of his budget from Medicaid.
"I don't have any knowledge about any specific cuts for this institution," Johnson said. "But if you want me to say poor people are going to suffer, it won't happen. I run this place today on a shoestring; I'll run in on a thinner shoestring. I already provide $12 million in free medical care to freeloaders every year. I write off 39 percent of my [budget] in bad debts. fIf that rises to 41 percent, it will be tougher. I'll have to manage better. iBut I'm a manager. I'm not an administrator. We're not going to turn people away."
Reagan pledged that the truly needy will not suffer from his budget cuts, but it will take the determination of a William Johnson to make that a fact. Whether there are enough Johnsons in the Albuequerques of American will be the real test of Reagan's New Beginning.