Mayor Eric Adams announced painful budget cuts to New York City departments on Thursday that would freeze police hiring and close libraries on Sunday, and warned that further cuts would be necessary without additional federal funding to manage the migrant crisis.
The budget cuts would reduce the number of police officers below 30,000 for the first time since the 1980s, reduce the Department of Education’s budget by $1 billion over two years and delay the rollout of composting in the Bronx and Staten Island – one of the mayor’s signatures. initiatives to fight rats and climate change. The cuts would also weaken two popular programs: summer school and universal kindergarten.
Mr. Adams said in a statement that he had to make cuts to city agencies in response to the growing costs of the migrant crisis, slowing tax revenues and the end of federal pandemic aid. .
“No city should be left to manage a national humanitarian crisis on its own, and without the meaningful and timely support we need from Washington, D.C., today’s budget will be just the beginning “, did he declare.
The cuts to New York City’s $110 billion budget come as Mr. Adams faces two crises that could define his tenure as mayor and his chances of winning a second term: an influx of migrants in coming from the southern border which he said could destroy the city. , and a federal investigation into his campaign’s fundraising.
Mr. Adams, a Democrat who is in his second year in office, warned Tuesday during a press conference that the budget cuts would be “extremely painful for New Yorkers.”
“Since I have been in government, this is probably one of the most painful exercises I have experienced,” he said.
Progressive Democrats immediately criticized the mayor’s cuts and said they would hurt working-class families. Lincoln Restler, chairman of the City Council’s Progressive Caucus, said his group would not cooperate with the cuts.
“Mayor Adams’ unnecessary, dangerous, and draconian budget cuts will only worsen New York’s affordability crisis and delay our city’s economic recovery by reducing funding for schools, child care, and food assistance. and many other things that help New Yorkers live and raise families in this city. » said Mr. Restler.
Mr Adams said the cost of the migrant crisis was growing and was expected to cost almost $11 billion over two years and that next year’s budget had a major deficit of $7 billion. The cuts take effect immediately, city officials said, and the mayor can implement a hiring freeze himself.
The City Council has a role in approving certain budget changes, particularly when funding is transferred between agencies or increased. It can approve budget changes or reject them. But the Council is more likely to combat the mayor’s budget cuts by negotiating the budget for the next fiscal year, which is due in June and requires Council approval.
Council President Adrienne Adams said in a statement that some essential programs like libraries and the City University of New York should be spared deep cuts. She said the city should consider approving new revenue and shifting migrant services to nonprofits.
“The administration’s response to providing services to asylum seekers has relied far too heavily on expensive emergency contracts with for-profit companies that have cost the city billions of dollars,” he said. she declared.
Police union President Patrick Hendry said the police hiring freeze — which city officials said involved postponing five classes of new officers — would make New Yorkers less safe. The last time the city had fewer than 30,000 officers was 1984, according to the city’s Independent Budget Office.
“This is truly a disaster for all New Yorkers who care about safe streets,” he said. “Police officers are already stretched thin, and these cuts will return us to staffing levels we haven’t seen since the crime epidemic of the ’80s and ’90s. We can’t go back to that.
Mr. Adams had said Tuesday that eliminating a new class of 250 school safety officers would mean schools would “rely on parents and parent groups to volunteer.” He said he would do everything in his power to keep schools safe with fewer resources.
“We’re going to go to great lengths to get this done right,” he said.
Library leaders announced that budget cuts would force them to close their Sunday branches starting in December.
“Without sufficient funding, we cannot maintain our current service levels, and any further reductions in library budgets will unfortunately result in more profound impacts on services,” said Brooklyn, Queens and Queens Public Library leaders. New York in a press release. .
Nonprofit leaders criticized the cuts and said they would hurt essential services, including food pantries, domestic violence shelters, after-school programs and legal services. Michelle Jackson, executive director of the Human Services Council, which represents dozens of nonprofit organizations, had called on the city to spare these services, arguing that budget cuts would “make our city less just, less safe and less stable for the coming years “.
Leaders of the left-wing Working Families Party said Mr Adams was unfairly blaming migrants for budget cuts when he should bear responsibility.
“Mayor Adams is continuing an agenda of death by a thousand cuts,” the group said. “As any teacher, librarian or healthcare worker will tell you: there is nothing left to cut. »
Many of the city’s top Democrats have denounced the budget cuts. City Comptroller Brad Lander said the city must continue to push for more state and federal funding, but called on Mr. Adams to “stop suggesting that asylum seekers are the reason severe cuts are imposed while they only contribute part of the funding.” of these budget deficits, a large part of which already existed.
The city’s public defender, Jumaane Williams, said the mayor should use a scalpel instead of making broad cuts and “reconsider the administration’s annual opposition to supporting common-sense collection options revenue that would ensure that the city can continue to meet its financial and moral responsibility at the same time.”
A day earlier, Mr. Adams celebrated the first increase in enrollment in New York City public schools in eight years — largely due to an influx of migrants from the southern border. For the current school year, enrollment increased by about 1 percent, or about 8,000 students, bringing the total number of students to 915,000.
Now city schools will make budget cuts at a time when educators say they need more resources to help new students and also continue school recovery after pandemic school closures. City officials said the Department of Education would be cut by $547 million this fiscal year and $600 million next year. In addition to cutting the Summer Rising summer program for middle school students and cutting thousands of universal kindergarten seats for 3-year-olds, community schools will be cut $10 million in the current fiscal year .
Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, said 653 schools would be forced to make midyear budget cuts, or about 43 percent of the school system.
“Class sizes will increase and school communities will be needlessly damaged,” he said.
Mr. Adams, a former police captain who ran for mayor as a working-class hero, acknowledged Tuesday that some of his top policy priorities would be undermined by the budget cuts.
“This is more than painful for New Yorkers, it’s painful for us,” Mr. Adams said. “I have witnessed a lot of personal suffering from my team members. These are initiatives we fought hard for.
Maria Cramer contributed reporting.
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