Budget crisis extends to death

From the Associated Press:

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City’s medical examiner warns that proposed budget cuts could threaten Jewish and Muslim burial rites.

Dr. Charles Hirsch says the cuts could hamper his office in its efforts to expedite the burials of observant Jews and Muslims, whose religions call for burials within 24 hours of death.

The city has ordered the medical examiner’s proposed operating budget of about $80 million for the fiscal year beginning in July cut by $7 million. And the state has threatened to withhold about $18 million in reimbursements.

Hirsch told a City Council committee hearing Wednesday the budget cuts could delay the issuing of death certificates needed for burials and force his bureaus outside Manhattan to close.

The city’s Office of Chief Medical Examiner opened in 1918 and was the first such governmental agency in the United States.