Speaker Adrienne Adams and the New York City Council released their response to the preliminary $106.4 billion city budget for 2023 and $102.7 billion for 2024. They are pushing back on the mayor’s cuts to essential services, libraries, and education.

“Since the start of this year’s city budget process, the council has made clear that our vision for the city is one that focused on putting people over everything and investing in the essential services that all New Yorkers rely on to be healthy, safe, and successful,” said Adams.

According to the City Council’s financial report, the preliminary budget implements a city-wide savings program aimed at reserving $551 million over the current and next fiscal years. Throughout March, the City Council held 26 budget hearings to assess what agencies needed. They found that in addition to staffing shortages, there were extenuating factors, such as the asylum-seeker crisis and inflated living costs, that have had a heavy impact on the city’s economy.

“Our budget response accounts for all of those risks, including costs related to labor settlement [that] were not accounted for in the preliminary budget,” said Adams.

The City Council identified at least $2.7 billion in additional tax revenue, projections that diverge from other agencies. They are asking for $1.3 billion in investments to offset proposed budget cuts and $1.4 billion to be put in reserves. 

The budget response prioritizes affordable housing; city services like libraries,

cultural institutions, food assistance, legal services, parks, and sanitation; filling staff vacancies; effective community-based safety solutions like Closing Rikers Island; and outstanding payments to early childhood education, youth services, and other education providers.

“More than simply an itemized list of income and expenditures, a budget is a moral manifest,” said Councilmember Justin Brannan, who chairs the council’s finance committee. 

Jonathan Bowles, executive director of the Center for an Urban Future, applauded the council’s budget response and investments in college education. “We applaud the Council’s call to restore baseline funding to expand the CUNY ACE program, which has boosted graduation rates for students from low-income backgrounds at CUNY’s four-year colleges,” said Bowles.

This week Mayor Eric Adams announced a 4% cut for all city agencies, slashing some initiatives that councilmembers were working on. Councilmember Crystal Hudson, who’s been an advocate for older residents through her NYC Aging programs, said that it was fiscally irresponsible to further exacerbate an already vulnerable system with these cuts.

“Rather than ensure our city is preparing for the massive rise in the number of older adults across the five boroughs, the Mayor is continuing to gut the budget of one of our smallest agencies that accounts for less than half of one percent of the city’s $103 billion budget,” said Hudson in a statement. “Every dollar cut means fewer meals for food insecure older adults, fewer case managers to provide services to vulnerable older adults, and fewer caregivers to support medically needy older adults.”

Meanwhile, the deadline to finalize Governor Kathy Hochul’s $227 billion state budget was April 1. It’s unclear when it will be passed. 

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said in a statement that she was “disappointed” that all parties couldn’t pass the budget on time.

“Today, we will be passing a short-term extender to ensure our public employees continue to be paid and state operations can carry on as usual while budget negotiations proceed,” said Stewart-Cousins. “We look forward to concluding our budget process and having a budget that represents the values of all New Yorkers.”

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 https://bit.ly/amnews1.

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