City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and Mayor Eric Adams provided testimony at the New York State Joint Legislative Public Hearing for the state executive budget on Feb 15. 

The hearings discussed the governor’s executive budget for state fiscal year 2024 and its potential impact on New York City. The city’s leadership asked for state funding for items such as affordable housing, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), education, mental healthcare, and services for asylum seekers.

Mayor Adams began by highlighting parts of the executive budget he liked: funding for the promised NYCHA Trust, child care, and the Earned Income Tax Credit; expanding the speed camera program; and investments in minority- and/or women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs). He was also “extremely pleased” with the governor’s commitment to funding for affordable housing, public safety, and addressing New York’s mental health crisis.

“But while the executive budget contains many shared priorities, the cuts and cost shifts significantly outweigh the assistance the state is providing to address the asylum-seeker crisis,” Adams said in his speech. 

Adams added that those cuts and cost shifts will have a severe impact on schools, public transit, and Medicaid. He said that last year’s bill to reduce class sizes was passed without additional funding to build schools and hire teachers, and new education laws that increase charter school caps would cost the city $1.3 billion over five years. 

On the asylum-seeker crisis, which the city expects to spend about $4 billion on, Mayor Adams was questioned about receiving federal support since immigration is ultimately a federal issue. He maintained that in addition to comprehensive immigration reform, the “right to shelter” should be a statewide responsibility, not just New York City’s. 

In a brief Q&A, the mayor addressed former Department of Social Services (DSS) Commissioner Gary P. Jenkins’s decision to step down. Until Feb. 7, Jenkins had been at the helm of handling the homelessness and asylum-seeker crisis simultaneously. He said that Jenkins had done a remarkable job under impossible odds, but ultimately decided to transition out of that role.

Most controversially, Mayor Adams testified about public safety, bail reform, and cracking down on illegal cannabis shops. He said that changes to the least-restrictive standard for bail reform in the state budget will go a long way toward solving the recidivism problem. He spoke specifically about 2,000 “violent” individuals and 9,000 identified repeat offenders whom he feels are exploiting the criminal justice system.

“People who state that we’re criminalizing the poor, that [we go] after people who are repeat offenders—they’re wrong,” he said. “We’re going after and criminalizing the poor when poor and low-income New Yorkers are being unemployed because we’re losing those businesses in our city. We can’t allow repeat offenders to make a mockery of the criminal justice system.”

Speaker Adams said in her testimony that the state has relied on New York City too much to balance state budgets for decades. Similarly to the mayor, she spoke about the city’s grim economic outlook since the pandemic and the quickly diminishing federal COVID relief funding. 

She said she appreciated the state’s decision to build more housing, expand housing voucher programs, legalize basement apartments, and help convert commercial buildings to apartments. However, she advocated for more funding to develop and preserve “deeply affordable housing” and provide more dollars for NYCHA residents.

“I must also note the need for increased city-state efforts to preserve and expand homeownership,” Speaker Adams said. “Affordable homeownership is one of the best avenues to grow community stability and wealth that helps curb New York City’s significant Black population decline by increasing housing opportunities.” 

Senators on the hearing panel also highlighted an “exodus of Black residents” who have fled the city over the last decade, mainly because of the rising cost of raising a family, higher rents, and a lack of truly affordable safe housing.

The speaker asked for more money to be invested in colleges, higher education institutions, and early childhood education programs. She also encouraged the governor to continue providing local governments with the federal funding enhancements needed to cover Medicaid costs. 

“We also see opportunities to invest in proven safety solutions that prevent crime before it occurs to make us safer, including intervention programs, crime victim and trauma recovery services, pre-trial and recidivism-reduction programs, and funding for public defenders and DAs,” said Speaker Adams, who is more progressive on the topic of public safety.

All these issues are compounded by the asylum-seeker crisis, she said. She agreed with the mayor that the $1 billion in state funding for shelter services for asylum seekers was not nearly enough. 
Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about politics for the Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting

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