Wednesday morning, New York City Councilmembers passed the FY2021 budget 32-17.
The budget will move $840 million from the NYPD expense budget and restore some funding for programs catering to youth, seniors and low-income communities, which had been slashed from an earlier budget proposed by Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The budget comes amidst a $9 billion revenue shortfall after coronavirus shutdowns, mass protests for racial justice and defunding the police, and an occupation of City Hall. The $88.19 billion FY2021 budget that was agreed on today includes $837 million in cuts and transfers from the NYPD expense budget, and associated NYPD cuts that total a $1 billion reduction in NYPD spending.
City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said he was disappointed the council could not do more, saying it was constrained by the mayor’s decisions and available funds.
“This isn’t a billion dollars, and I’m not gonna pretend that it is. It’s important to be honest,” Johnson said, pointing out that fringe benefits and other things the mayor cited did not count as real reductions.
“I’m not saying this is a gigantic victory,” said Johnson, adding that the mayor would not budge on his stance against a hiring freeze or reduction of officers.
Johnson said the City Council came to the negotiating table determined to preserve New York’s social safety net. He said he was proud of the work they did to save community initiatives and programming, including the Summer Youth Employment Program.
He said the council heard calls for reimagining the NYPD, and councilmembers would keep fighting for fundamental changes to policing, and would not stop until they had pathed the way for a more equitable future for New Yorkers.
Of the councilmembers representing BK Reader neighborhoods, councilmembers Antonio Reynoso, Inez Barron and Brad Lander voted against the budget, critical it did not bring the level of systemic change constituents were calling for.
“What we are really pleading for is an end to a system of policing that discriminates based on economic status, race, religion, gender and sexual orientation, and an investment in the supports and services that will offer the opportunity for success to all New Yorkers,” said Reynoso.
Bed-Stuy Councilmember Robert Cornegy, who voted in support of the budget, said it was not perfect, but he had a responsibility to balance competing priorities so essential services could reach communities in need.
“I am voting yes to a budget that prioritizes fair student funding and arts and culture programming in our schools. I am voting yes to a budget that prioritizes Summer Youth Employment. I am voting yes to a budget that prioritizes increased funding for food pantries to address food insecurity in this city. Especially in the communities that have been disproportionately affected by COVID19,” he said.
The FY2021 budget will:
- Put $115.8 million towards summer programs including the Summer Youth Employment Program, and the COMPASS, Beacon and Cornerstone summer camps
- Reduce and reform the NYPD by cutting and transferring funds to other city departments, including moving school safety to the Department of Education, cutting NYPD classes from four to two which will reduce headcount by 1,163 uniform officers, and removing police from homeless outreach, amongst other changes
- Help public schools by reinstating funding for programs Fair Student Funding, Single Shepherd guidance counselling, and more
- Help college students graduate by funding CUNY’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs and Remediation Program
- Support youth by funding the foster child mentor program Fair Futures, childcare vouchers and childcare contracts
- Put $33.6 million to address food insecurity
- Promote LGBTQIA rights by funding education and senior services and the Trans Equity Program
- Give around $40 million to arts and culture programs and groups
- Support libraries by giving $11.9 million to the City’s three library systems
- Fund services that help survivors of domestic violence
- Support small businesses and workers through chambers of commerce and business development and training groups
- Support seniors by funding retirement communities, seniors centers and Holocaust survivors
- Fund immigrant services as immigrants have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and many have been left out of federal aid programs
- Promote criminal justice by funding Alternatives to Incarceration, and programs for diversion, crisis management, supporting those involved in the sex trade and programs combatting sexual assault
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