March 17, 2022 By Allie Griffin
Nearly a dozen council members, including three from Queens, along with scores of community-based groups are pushing back against cuts proposed by the mayor in the preliminary budget he introduced last month.
The elected officials and groups said Mayor Eric Adams’ $98.5 billion budget cuts funding to important services like education, housing and healthcare, which will harm vulnerable New Yorkers.
“Mayor Adams has proposed a budget that would defund many of our most vital public safety and public health agencies and institutions,” Council Member Tiffany Cabán said at a Manhattan rally Wednesday organized by activists opposed to the mayor’s budget plan.
The proposed FY23 budget, which must be approved by the City Council, slashes $2.3 billion off the city’s current budget — a stark contrast to the de Blasio administration’s practice of increasing the budget each year.
“It would defund schools, it would defund sanitation, it would defund homeless services, it would defund our public hospital systems, it would defund the departments for youth and community development, it would defund the department of small business services,” Cabán said, counting the departments off on her hand while speaking at the rally. “I’ve run out of fingers, y’all.”
Adams’ plan involves cutting the Dept. of Education budget by $826 million; cuts to NYC Health + Hospitals by $390 million; a reduction in the Dept. of Health budget by $195 million; a cut to the Parks Dept. by $63 million; and a reduction of $60 million for sanitation. Meanwhile, the NYPD budget would remain flat, while the amount spent on the Dept. of Corrections would increase by $53 million.
Cabán along with 10 other council members and nearly 100 community organizations have signed onto a document they call “The People’s Response” in opposition to Adams’ proposed cuts. The group behind the document organized Wednesday’s rally.
Queens Council Members Shekar Krishnan and Nantasha Williams along with Brooklyn-Queens Council Member Jennifer Gutiérrez have signed on. Several Queens groups have also endorsed the The People’s Response, including Jackson Heights People for Public Schools, Make the Road New York and Woodside on the Move.
The signees are critical of the mayor’s budget saying that it cuts funding for vital services that vulnerable New Yorkers need, all while maintaining or increasing funds for institutions that criminalize and destabilize communities of color, like the NYPD and the jails system.
The mayor, according to The People’s Response, has proposed that the city spend $5.4 billion on the NYPD — a figure greater than the combined amount for Homeless Services, Youth and Community Development, Sanitation and Parks.
Adams said he is prioritizing investments in public safety in the FY23 budget while cutting spending to increase efficiency. His office stressed that “achieving savings and efficiency” will be hallmarks of his administration moving forward.
However, the legislators and progressive activists said the mayor should not be cutting funding to critical services when many New Yorkers are still hurting from the pandemic and its fallout.
“This FY23 budget could be the City’s moral document, a plan to build back New York City better than before; or it could signal the continued abandonment of the city’s residents to devastation and divestment, further exacerbated by the pandemic,” they wrote in The People’s Response. “In the first City budget of the new term, we urge the mayor and city council to pass a budget that provides dignity, care, and justice for all New Yorkers.”
The mayor’s office didn’t immediately return a request for comment.