MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry warned Sunday that city budget cuts could have an unintended consequence: a spike in crime.
Speaking on The Melissa Harris-Perry Show, she focused particularly on New York City, where mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed budget cuts that could lead, she said, to tens of thousands of "low-income and working class children [being] pushed out of after-school programs."
"It's true that in tough times cities have to make cuts in order to stay afloat. But cutting too much can lead to unintended consequences," Harris-Perry said. "Last month New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed a budget that would cut the number of after-school program sites from 454 to 261. This will save the city $19 million—a fraction of the $67 billion dollar budget. It also leaves twenty-six thousand children with nowhere to go, parents having to choose between work and childcare, and a potential recipe for disaster."
"Kids out in the summer without programs sounds like, 'Let's please have a crime rate!'" she said to hip hop artist Jay Smooth. "It definitely sounds disturbing and it shows how skewed the priorities can be in a lot of ways," replied Smooth.
Indeed, research shows that investing in children through programs like early childhood education and after-school programs helps cut down on crime—which, in the long run, saves a lot of money. As thousands of New Yorkers protest on the steps of City Hall, it remains to be seen whether Bloomberg and other budget-cutting mayors across the country will heed this lesson.