Pols, advocacy groups strongly denounce mayor’s budget modification plan

City Council Member Farah Louis at City Hall.
City Council Member Farah Louis at City Hall.

Several elected officials and advocacy groups have denounced Mayor Eric Adams’s budget modification plan that they say will result in major cuts throughout various city agencies. 

“Slashing funds from City agencies that offer our communities the resources and care that they need and deserve is wholly irresponsible and dangerous,” said City Council Member Rita Joseph, the Haitian-born representative for the 40th Council District in Brooklyn, in a letter to constituents on Thursday. 

“The budget modification proposed by the mayor is reckless and insulting, and its implementation would result in fewer services for our neighbors and a city that is less safe and prosperous,” added Joseph, chair of the City Council’s Education Committee and former public school teacher in Brooklyn.  

According to the New York City Independent Budget Office, the city has $2.2 billion in extra tax revenue.

“But despite this, the mayor is proposing a plan that would gut libraries, CUNY (City University of New York), 3K, public schools, parks and social services,” Joseph said. “During the pandemic, libraries played a crucial role in supporting families and students alike. With high levels of poverty harming neighborhoods in all corners of our city, cutting social services is illogical and backwards. 

“As the chairwoman of the Education Committee and a lifelong educator, the idea of cutting millions of dollars from CUNY and millions of dollars from the Department of Education is obscene,” she added.

Additionally, Joseph said she was “extremely distressed that the mayor would even contemplate, let alone propose, cutting Council discretionary funds, which support critical services for non-profits that are particularly needed in working-class communities like District 40.”

In her district alone, which is predominantly Caribbean, Joseph said she funds, among others, senior centers, organizations that fight food insecurity and legal providers – “all of which could be on the chopping block if the mayor succeeds in cutting these funds. 

“These services from non-profits plug in the holes that government is not able to currently fill, and the loss of their funding will harm our neighbors in material and significant ways,” she said. “I condemn the proposal in the strongest possible terms, and I pledge to continue standing up for our most marginalized communities.” 

In response to Mayor Adams’s letter calling for cuts to City Council grants to providers, the Council’s Women’s Caucus Co-Chairs Amanda Farías and Farah Louis, the daughter of Haitian and Bahamian immigrants, said: “At a time when access to abortion and reproductive health care are under attack, we cannot afford attempts to cut funding from the organizations that provide these essential services. 

“Women still make a fraction of the wages men receive, and we know the non-profit service providers that support women and families are the backbone of healthy and safe communities,” said Farías and Louis in a joint statement. 

“Community-based organizations are filling the gaps in critical services that the government is failing to provide for all New Yorkers. Any suggestion to strip vital resources from the Council’s women’s initiatives is insulting and dangerous, especially after we took action to provide access to abortion health care through this funding,” they added. 

“If we are serious about promoting maternal health care, protecting access to abortion and doula services, supporting survivors of domestic violence, and fostering leadership among young women, the city must honor its commitments to support service providers,” Farías and Louis continued. “Drastic and shortsighted cuts to committed investments will only harm and undermine our communities and their recovery, which we ardently oppose.”

The City Council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus (BLAC), which consists of 34 of the 51 members of the Council, said that, “for years, the New York City Council has provided grants to support non-profit service providers that serve as lifelines to communities of color. 

“The mayor’s request to slash these resources for communities by 50 percent is counterproductive, and would only harm the health and safety of Black and Brown New Yorkers,” said the Caucus in a statement. “This approach would not only further shortchange Black, Latino and Asian communities, but severely hemorrhage the capacity and capability of these organizations to provide adequate and meaningful services that our communities rely on. 

“New Yorkers deserve an effective government that invests in them, not one that seeks to undermine community partners and services that are critical to them,” it added. “The New York City Council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus looks forward to continuing our work advocating, working and standing up for our most marginalized communities.”

The City Council’s Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual (LGBTQIA+) Caucus’s Co-Chairs Tiffany Cabán and Crystal Hudson, the granddaughter of Jamaican immigrants, noted that the Council’s historic funding for non-profit service providers in the LGBTQIA+ community has “ensured support for mental health services, programs for runaway homeless youth, and services specifically for transgender New Yorkers. 

“We have fought to strengthen this support through budget initiatives, like Pride at Work, to help more New Yorkers access union jobs,” they said in a statement. “At a time when the LGBTQIA+ community is facing more homophobic and transphobic attacks, insufficient access to services, and the lack of basic safety, the city should not be seeking to gut the organizations our communities rely upon. 

“The administration’s decision to target community-based organizations for draconian cuts is dangerous and cruel,” Cabán and Hudson added. “The LGBTQIA+ Caucus will not allow this mayor to shortchange our communities, and we will not waiver from our commitment to their health and safety.”

The People’s Plan, an alliance of dozens of advocacy organizations and community groups, said the proposed budget modification sent on Wednesday by Mayor Adams to the City Council for charter-mandated approval, “contains a series of severe cuts to agencies already in staffing crises, and greatly reduces budgets for public libraries and CUNY while leaving the NYPD budget nearly untouched. 

The Plan said the fiscal need for the pegs contained in the modification is “called into question” by the Independent Budget Office’s recent estimate of a $2.2 billion dollar surplus for FY23.  

“After cutting half a billion dollars from our public schools in June, Mayor Adams is now aiming to gut CUNY, shutter public libraries, and strip critical workforce capacity from agencies that provide health, housing and social services to millions of New Yorkers,” said Zara Nasir, coordinator of The People’s Plan. 

“With this proposed modification the mayor is holding hostage needed council-created programs – like taxi medallion relief, the abortion access fund and migrant support initiatives – until the council signs off on his reckless austerity crusade,” he added. “We applaud the council members who are standing up against Mayor Adams latest austerity budget.” 

“Mayor Eric Adams’s modified budget takes a hatchet to public education, libraries, parks, and other critical public resources that working families depend on,” said Sochie Nnaemeka, Director of the New York Working Families Party. “The devastating cuts to mental health and homeless services fly in the face of Adams’s supposed commitment to providing care to the unhoused and those with mental health issues. We join our elected and community allies in raising deep alarm with the impacts of these cuts and calling for investments that protect and strengthen working families.”

According to City & State New York, the Adams administration has been “under pressure to find savings as it stares down budget gaps of billions of dollars in the coming years.”

A statement from the Office of the Mayor of the City of New York said that savings reflected in this November Financial Plan reduce the next fiscal year’s budget deficit by more than $1 billion, bringing it down to a manageable $2.9 billion. 

The two following years’ budget gaps stand at $4.6 billion and $5.9 billion, City & State reported.

“The city faces significant economic headwinds that pose real threats to our fiscal stability, including growing pension contributions, expiring labor contracts, and rising health care expenses,” Adams said in a statement. “And we are taking decisive actions in the administration’s first November Financial Plan to meet those challenges.”