The People’s Plan gathered at City Hall (Contributed photo from People’s Plan)

Mayor Eric Adams has released his $106.7 billion fiscal year executive budget 2024, which focuses on fiscal responsibility and remaining balanced in the coming years. Of course, it was met with immediate backlash from some advocates and a mixed bag from others, the biggest issues being with NYPD, education, and library funding.

“Great things are happening in New York City. We’re taking strides toward a greener, more prosperous and just future,” said Adams at the budget press conference on April 26. “Now it is our responsibility to maintain New York City’s forward momentum. Our Fiscal Year 2024 Executive Budget prioritizes our working people’s agenda and keeps our city working for the benefit of all New Yorkers. It does so while addressing some of the storm clouds gathering on our horizon.”

The city budget must be balanced every year with a specific amount of revenue by law. If it looks like future years will be unbalanced, that means there’s a “gap” between revenue and expenditures that has to be corrected. How to do that is usually where all the hullabaloo comes in. 

Highlights of the executive summary of the budget include earned income tax credits, more Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid benefits, more free legal representation in housing courts, free internet access for New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments, improving the city’s climate resiliency, supporting mental health services, and $4.8 million in investments in the City University of New York’s (CUNY) Inclusive Economy Initiative programs

Adams said that the city is still facing billions in new costs despite “better than expected” tax revenues. The executive budget for 2023 and 2024 remains balanced, with outyear gaps of $4.2 billion, $6 billion, and $7 billion in fiscal years 2025 through 2027, respectively. The budget grew by $4 billion from the preliminary budget because of asylum-seeker costs and funding labor settlements with the city’s workforce, according to the mayor’s office. 

Most can understand the need for a Program to Eliminate the Gap (PEG) and save the city money, but what to prioritize is the question.

Among the real fiscal challenges, Adams cited the asylum-seeker crisis as a primary factor. The city anticipates that the cost of providing shelter, food, clothing, and other services for asylum seekers will be $4.3 billion. Immigration advocates haven’t particularly disputed the costs of the “right to shelter” for more than 57,000 asylum seekers who have arrived in the last year, but many have started to push back against the mayor for “scapegoating” migrants and asylum seekers during budget negotiations.

Library funding was also a huge rallying point when $36.2 million in cuts were initially announced in the preliminary budget last year, followed by an additional 4%, taking it up to $52.7 million in cuts this year.

Adams said that the city “did not cut a single penny from libraries or cultural institutions” and exempted them from those PEG saving targets to avoid cutting critical needs, meaning the city wasn’t going to enforce the additional 4% at all. This move seemed to pacify citywide library branch leadership, but librarians and some city council members are still upset about the remaining cuts. 

“The Brooklyn, New York, and Queens Public Libraries are grateful to Mayor Adams, a longtime champion of libraries, for sparing us from the latest round of funding cuts announced in April. This is an important step toward restoring library funding,” said Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) President Linda E. Johnson, Queens Public Library (QPL) President Dennis M. Walcott, and New York Public Library (NYPL) President Anthony W. Marx in a joint statement.

However, Lauren Comito, executive director at Urban Librarians Unite, said Adams and his office are “intentionally being misleading” about cuts to library funding. Comito has been a city librarian for the past 16 years. She remembers a previous round of budget cuts under former Mayor Mike Bloomberg, in which staffing efficiency and technology were critical to maintain adequate levels of client services. She said the city’s library branches are now an excellent example of efficiency if that’s the mayor’s concern.

“Libraries are the last space where communities can exist together without paying for it. The people, the staff who guide the library, work really hard to make sure that they’re meeting the life and recreational needs of the people coming in,” said Comito. “People come in to check out books, use computers, access social services, look for jobs, do their immigration paperwork.”

She said communities of color especially have organized and galvanized libraries, and every library system takes care to reflect the cultural history of the neighborhood it’s in.

Comito, who declined to say which library she worked in, said there are already short-staffing issues and she is worried about pending cuts to programs. 

“It feels like sort of a mean game,” said Comito. “Those are still in the executive budget. Whether or not the City Council stands up for us like they usually do and helps mitigate the problem is really more the issue at this point.”

In a joint statement, Speaker Adrienne Adams and Council Finance Chair Justin Brannan pledged to support essential city services while taking into account potential budgetary risks and economic challenges. They said that even though the mayor did make adjustments to PEGs to scale back on cuts, libraries are still affected. 

“The Executive Budget still leaves our libraries facing significant service cuts, agencies that deliver essential services harmed, and programs that deliver solutions to the city’s most pressing challenges without the investments needed,” they said.

Councilmember Crystal Hudson said in a statement that the exec budget was a “half-hearted attempt to restore the cuts proposed in his Preliminary Budget––namely, those to the City’s public libraries and cultural institutions, and to vital agencies like the Departments of Sanitation, Parks and Recreation, Youth and Community Development, the Human Resources Administration, and the Department of Homeless Services.” 

Hudson said investing in these agencies is an imperative. She has heard library leaders express concern about their remaining gap in funding and that there will be reduced operational hours and fewer programs for communities. “The budget makes no concerted attempt to meaningfully address the priorities laid out in the Council’s budget response,” said Hudson.

On the more extreme side of the pendulum, the People’s Plan coalition analysis claims that Adams is making “damaging” cumulative cuts to education ($1.3 billion), CUNY ($60 million), the 3–K program ($568 million), and libraries ($36.2 million). Zara Nasir, executive director of the People’s Plan, said there have been anecdotal reports about how city functions have slowed because of vacancy rates and staffing issues, namely longer wait times for benefits and housing vouchers, and people living in the shelter system for longer times.

“This budget fails New Yorkers in almost every way imaginable,” said Nasir. 

Nasir, as well as plenty of other criminal justice advocates, are also livid over Adams’s NYPD and Department of Corrections overtime budget, which, according to city Comptroller Brad Lander, was 90% above budget in fiscal year 2022 for uniformed officers and $69 million higher in fiscal year 2023.

“Essentially, there’s a lot of money on the table that the mayor’s not factoring in,” said Nasir, “and partly it’s like a negotiating tactic, partly it’s because I think the mayor just has different values. When you look at his donors, it is a lot of people who support charter schools and privatization. When you look at his background, he values policing over a lot of these essential services.”

Lander said in a statement that the mayor was right as far as spending significant resources to provide shelter for asylum seekers goes, but the budget fails to take steps toward moving people from shelters into permanent housing. He noted that it would be more beneficial to think of long-term savings to address the outyear budget gaps as federal emergency funds run out rather than “forcing agencies” to make up savings.

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said the outyear budget gaps have grown and projected savings from PEG will not be enough to offset new costs. Dinapoli predicted budget gaps could reach up to $10 billion in fiscal year 2027. Furthermore, he said it will be difficult to maintain balance since the state budget was late this year and couldn’t be reflected in city budgets.

“The delay in the state budget has created additional fiscal uncertainty for the city, which will have to be remedied in the city’s adopted budget, expected in June,” said DiNapoli.

Governor Kathy Hochul released the state budget for fiscal year 2024 on April 27, shortly after the city’s budget release.

The next steps in the process will be a series of executive budget hearings held by City Council from May 8 to May 24, where committees will review the mayor’s proposed exec budget and hear testimony from the public before voting on an adopted budget.

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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