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NYC Budget Deal Averts 4K Teacher Layoffs, Firehouse Closures

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- New York City lawmakers reached a budget deal Friday that will avert the layoffs of about 4,000 teachers and saved 20 city firehouses that were slated to close.

Friday night's deal represented the final revision of the mayor's $65.72 billion proposal that he issued in May. The handshake agreement must be followed by a formal vote before the end of the month, when fiscal year 2011 ends.

Part of the deal over teacher layoffs was reached through union concessions. The union agreed to cancel teacher study sabbaticals for one year and to place unassigned instructors in substitute teaching positions.

Officials also said the city won't pay to replace thousands more public school instructors who quit or retire this year. Additional funds were found through administrative cutbacks at the Department of Education.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn gathered with city lawmakers and the head of the teachers' union Friday evening to announce the roughly $66 billion deal.

A proposal to shutter 20 fire companies was also averted in the deal. In a statement, Uniformed Firefighters Association President Steve Cassidy thanked members of the city council for saving the firehouses.

"Closing any fire companies would have negatively impacted the safety of all New Yorkers.  2010 was the busiest year in the 145-year the history of the FDNY and the last 7 years have broken previous emergency response records," he said. "The Mayor and Speaker Quinn's announcement that the fire companies will not be cut shows that our city's leaders heard what their constituents demanded."

There have been numerous protests around the city since Bloomberg announced his original budget in May.

Dozens of rallies have taken place to save the 20 firehouses that were slated to close. Nearly 15,000 demonstrators marched over the Brooklyn Bridge earlier this month to protest the proposed closings. 

Teachers have also taken to the streets. Council Education Committee chairman Robert Jackson led a rally protesting teacher layoffs in front of City Hall and in May, the teachers union filed a lawsuit to stop the Department of Education from closing down 22 struggling schools.

"This is a budget that will keep our city strong, but it is also a budget that faces fiscal realities,'' Bloomberg said at the late-night press event, which was interrupted several times by raucous protests from city residents upset by the proposed cutbacks. The group gathered outside the Department of Education building as officials spoke inside.

The administration had been negotiating with an umbrella group of city unions in the hopes of drawing on a union health care fund to save additional jobs, but those talks fell apart Thursday. The mayor said he anticipated more than 1,000 non-uniformed city workers would receive pink slips, but officials said they couldn't yet say which departments would be effected.

What do you think of the new deal? Sound off below in our comments section...

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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