The People’s Response to the FY2023 Preliminary Budget

In February 2022, Mayor Adams released his preliminary fiscal year 2023 budget for New York City. The mayor’s proposal represents a regressive and punitive orientation to city policy and budget at a time when New Yorkers need care and resources the most. Put simply, the mayor’s austerity budget cuts funding for or underfunds education, health and hospitals, and other vitally necessary services that 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 People’s Plan releases the following “People’s Response” to the mayor’s preliminary budget, supported by the undersigned organizations and Council Members. 

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Housing

The mayor’s proposal fails to make real investments in housing for working class New Yorkers. There are no increases in capital budgets for Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) or the City’s public housing authority (NYCHA). The proposal cuts expense budgets and personnel from HPD, Department of Homeless Services (DHS), and Department of Social Services (DSS).1 This starves agencies that oversee housing and homelessness. Mayor Adams’ budget also reduces the resources available to our unhoused neighbors. Instead, the mayor has focused on the ineffectual policing of homeless people who shelter in the subway system. Agencies and budgets that house New Yorkers need more funding. This includes urgent increases in funding for caseworkers to meet the needs of the City’s expanded voucher program. This would aid in a rapid transition of unhoused people from shelters to permanent housing. The City should also put increased resources into Right to Counsel and the Anti-Harassment Tenant Protection Program to ensure more New Yorkers are protected from eviction. The City should also reform CityFHEPS to make it easier for New Yorkers to access and retain the voucher to keep immediately housing people under this important policy.2 We urge the mayor and city council to correct the course and support meaningful and needed investment in housing.

Education

Right now, students need an overwhelming amount of academic and emotional support. New York City also needs a fully funded, tuition-free CUNY for all people regardless of income or background. Yet, Mayor Adams’ budget fails to provide resources to support the most vulnerable students. The mayor’s proposal cuts direct funding to public schools by over $200 million. This is despite commitments the City made in prior years not to punish schools for pandemic related enrollment drops. The proposed budget also increases the percentage of dollars going to charter schools.3 Public schools will lose money, making it more difficult to meet student needs. This includes hiring more school staff or covering enrichment programs. Adams’ preliminary budget includes about $110 million in cuts this school year. Every year after, cuts of $57 million will hit DOE’s central offices, including salaries and professional development. Mayor Adams also proposed a hiring freeze and cutting over 3,600 vacant positions at DOE. Yet, the City plans to hire 1000 more school safety agents, prioritizing policing over student learning and wellbeing.4 Mayor Adams said his budget is “focused on equity, safety, and justice.” But this proposed budget continues the legacy of disinvestment and criminalization of students of color. 

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and lack of government support has been destabilizing to New Yorkers and has caused upticks in certain forms of violence. A true public safety budget would invest in the resources and services required to end root causes of violence, and not further inflict violence on New Yorkers. Instead, the mayor is choosing to place cuts in city’s departments that perform crucial public health and safety roles while continuing to spend more on the NYPD and jails than many of these agencies combined.5 The mayor is focusing on aggressive policing, broken windows strategies that criminalize poverty, police abuse and stop and frisk instead of investments in communities and social services.6 The extent of the city’s punitive orientation to its residents is evidenced by its capital budget; the City is cutting the parks capital funding by 94 percent and the housing capital budget by 43 percent, while the capital budget for the city’s jails increases by three-fold, and there is a 35 percent increase to the police capital budget.7 The half-million dollars spent on jailing a single incarcerated New Yorker per year could instead be spent on housing for hundreds.8 The City should massively decarcerate to save lives and end torturous and deadly practices like solitary confinement.9 Also, the City should greatly reduce the amount of funds spent on policing and incarceration; at a bare minimum, the City should enact a hiring freeze for correctional officers,10 police officers,11 and school safety officers.12  The City should use these funds to meet community needs like supportive housing, healthcare, schools, and programs for young people, reducing people’s interactions with policing and jail systems in the first place. 

Economic Justice

The mayor’s preliminary budget takes some positive steps in addressing the economic conditions of New Yorkers of color. The proposed budget invests more funding for SYEP and other youth workforce programs for a total of 100,000 slots.13 However, for sustainability, the investment must include immediately transitioning SYEP provider contracts to 12 month contracts. The City should also staff up DYCD and the Mayor’s Office of Youth Employment (MOYE), and fund an expansion of Work Learn Grow (WLG). The proposed budget lets down human service workers. Human services workers did not receive a Cost of Living Adjustment, an increase of their wage floor to the #JustPay recommended $22/hr, or a renewal to the one-time bonus from the FY22 budget. The budget adds $2.33 million in Home Delivered Meals for FY22 and $9.41 million for FY2314 to begin to correct years of underfunded reimbursement rates. However, the budget cut funding for the Recovery Meals program15, although pandemic food support is still a high need. There are also cuts of $1.36 million in funding for the Geriatric Mental Health Program, which is critical particularly during a time of social isolation for seniors.

Health

The mayor’s proposed budget only touches the surface of the care and recovery needed by communities of color and low-income New Yorkers most harmed by COVID-19. This budget should fund community-based organizations that use effective practices to address chronic diseases that worsened pandemic outcomes. Funding should address decades of divestment in public health and community-based infrastructure. Increasing subsidies for Health+Hospitals (H+H) and public hospitals as the City’s largest healthcare safety nets is vital.16 The budget must baseline Access Health NYC, mental health services for children under five, and programs addressing communicable and chronic diseases, and substance use. The mayor’s budget baselines a new family health home visit program at $23 million17, and maternal and child health training at H+H. But the City must allocate more funding to support adequate prenatal and postpartum health care support for immigrants and communities of color.  The City should identify more resources for better coordination between hospital and community-based services for pregnant people. Services should include perinatal case management services, comprehensive doula support programs, and pregnancy programs. The City must also step up again if needed to cover the cuts imposed by reductions to the Article VI match, which fund community-based health and engagement programs.18

Transit 

The mayor’s preliminary budget cuts Department of Transportation funding by $67 million over two years. Yet, compliance with the Streets Plan law will likely cost an extra $1.7 billion over the baseline across 10 years. This amounts to $170 million per year or $340 million over two years. The Adams administration has committed to outperforming the Streets Plan legal requirements. This commitment included completing 150 miles of bus lanes and 300 miles of bike lanes in four years. But the preliminary budget doesn’t provide a roadmap to deliver on those requirements or promises, given proposed cuts. The mayor’s budget presentation also highlighted a new baseline of $75 million for Fair Fares.19 But the City is doing so at a lower dollar figure than the $106 million funding level of four years ago, though higher than its pandemic era low of $53 million. The City should fully fund Fair Fares and allow more New Yorkers to qualify. The MTA and Community Service Society have suggested that the City double the income cutoff. This would allow families of four earning about $50,000 a year to qualify for the half-fare discount.

Climate

The mayor’s proposed budget does not include enough funding to address the city’s dire climate and health crises.20 The proposal includes over $200 million in budget cuts from DCAS21 and DOB.22 These agencies play a major role in the implementation of landmark climate policies like Local Law 97. The Climate Works for All coalition calls for the City to invest $14.5 billion by 2030  to create Green, Healthy Schools as a first step toward LL 97 compliance. An annual investment of $1.8 billion will pay for deep retrofits and the installation of solar panels. This will set the City on track to meet its climate goals. The City must also re-prioritize sanitation programs like Commercial Waste Zones (CWZ), basket service, and community composting. The establishment of the Commercial Waste Division is a positive step in the preliminary budget. But the NY Transform Don’t Trash Coalition is urging the city to implement CWZ as soon as possible, and to restore and expand DSNY’s budget. The proposed $1 billion in budget cuts to DSNY23 will only exacerbate the city’s sanitation crisis. More funding will ensure sanitation services are able to operate at pre-pandemic levels and ensure the City reaches its zero waste goals, improving public health and safety. 

In conclusion, as it is, the mayor’s budget will harm vulnerable New Yorkers. The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified issues that communities of color, immigrants, and low-wage workers have faced for decades before the crisis, which is precisely why New York City doesn’t only need a just recovery; it requires a reorganization of the way that the City approaches the needs of its residents. The City must provide communities with resources to ensure that not only do we recover from this crisis, but that we all thrive and share in all that this city has to offer. 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. 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.

Signatories:

  1. Council Member Alexa Aviles
  2. Council Member Carmen De La Rosa
  3. Council Member Chi Ossé
  4. Council Member Crystal Hudson
  5. Council Member Jennifer Gutiérrez 
  6. Council Member Kristin Richardson Jordan
  7. Council Member Nantasha Williams
  8. Council Member Rita Joseph
  9. Council Member Sandy Nurse
  10. Council Member Shahana Hanif
  11. Council Member Shekar Krishnan
  12. Council Member Tiffany Cabán
  13. #HALTsolitary Campaign
  14. 9/11 Environmental Action
  15. A. Philip Randolph Square Neighborhood Alliance
  16. Advocates For Children of New York
  17. ALIGN
  18. Alliance for Quality Education
  19. Apex for Youth
  20. Arab-American Family Support Center
  21. Artistic Noise
  22. Beam Center
  23. Bronx Educators United for Justice
  24. CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities
  25. Chinese American Planning Council (CPC)
  26. Chinese Progressive Association
  27. Churches United for Fair Housing
  28. City Workers 4 Justice
  29. Class Size Matters
  30. Coalition for Asian American Children and Families (CACF)
  31. Cobble Hill Think Tank
  32. Commission on the Public Health System (CPHS)
  33. Community Voices Heard (CVH)
  34. D28 Equity Now
  35. Dignity In Schools Campaign
  36. District 15 Parents for Middle School Equity
  37. DRUM – Desis Rising Up & Moving
  38. Education Council Consortium
  39. EduColor
  40. El Puente
  41. FREE
  42. Girls for Gender Equity (GGE-NY)
  43. Girls Who Code
  44. Hamilton-Madison House
  45. Hunter Students for Diversity (HCHS4D)
  46. Health People, Inc.
  47. Housing Works
  48. Immigrant Social Services, Inc
  49. Incarcerated Nation Network 
  50. IncludeNYC
  51. Inside Schools
  52. IntegrateNYC
  53. Jackson Heights People for Public Schools
  54. Japanese American Social Services, Inc.
  55. Jews For Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ)
  56. Literacy Assistance
  57. Make The Road NY
  58. MASA
  59. Metro New York Health Care for All
  60. Metropolitan Parent Center, Sinergia Inc
  61. MOSAIC
  62. Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE)
  63. NAMI NYS Criminal Justice
  64. National Action Network Second Chance Committee 
  65. New Economy Project
  66. New Hour for Women & Children LI
  67. New Settlement Parent Action Committee
  68. New York City Chapter of United Spinal Association
  69. New York Immigration Coalition
  70. New York Working Families Party
  71. New Yorkers for Racially Just Public Schools (RJPS)
  72. NYC Alliance for School Integration and Desegregation
  73. NYC Anti-Violence Project
  74. NYC Coalition for Educational Justice (NYC CEJ)
  75. NYC Democratic Socialists for America (NYC DSA)
  76. NYC Kids Pac
  77. NYC Opt Out
  78. NYU Metro Center
  79. Organizing for Equity NY
  80. Parent Action Committee
  81. Parent Supporting Parents NY
  82. Parents Legislation Action Network
  83. Parole Preparation Project 
  84. Partnership With Children
  85. Pratt Center for Community Development
  86. PRESS NYC
  87. Riders Alliance
  88. S.T.O.P. – Surveillance Technology Oversight Project
  89. Sakhi
  90. Sapna NYC
  91. South Bronx Rising Together
  92. South Bronx United
  93. Teens Take Charge
  94. Territorial Empathy
  95. The Brotherhood-Sister Sol
  96. The Gathering for Justice
  97. The Metropolitan Council on Housing
  98. The New 3Rs
  99. The Opportunity Network
  100. Transportation Alternatives
  101. Voices Of Community Activists & Leaders (VOCAL-NY)
  102. Women for Afghan Women
  103. Woodside on the Move
  104. Youth Over Guns
  105. Youth Power Coalition

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The People’s Plan is a collective vision for a City that provides dignity, care, and justice for all New Yorkers. It offers the priorities of hundreds of organizers and advocates through a comprehensive, multi-issue roadmap around housing, anti-criminalization, education, economy, climate, transit, and health. The intent of The People’s Plan is to set the agenda for a racially and socially just city and provide a clear people-centered mandate for 2022 and beyond.

Endnotes

1.  The City is cutting DHS by over $500 million, a 20 percent reduction, HPD by $350 million, a 25 percent reduction, and DSS by $600M, a 5 percent reduction – the majority coming from public assistance (The City of New York Preliminary Budget Fiscal Year 2023 Expense Revenue Contract, pgs 30E, 130E-131E, 36E-37E). 

2.  Under a new law, if a person’s income increases above a threshold, regardless of continued rent burden, they can lose their housing subsidy and any housing they are currently occupying. The voucher will also only last for five years, and then be up to the discretion of the Administration to be extended.

3.  The City of New York Preliminary Budget Fiscal Year 2023 Expense Revenue Contract, pg. 25E

4.  CBS New York: NYC Schools Chancellor David Banks shares his vision for Department of Education https://www.cbsnews.com/newyork/live-updates/nyc-schools-chancellor-david-banks-shares-vision/ 

5.  The Departments of Education, Youth and Community Development, Homeless Services, Housing Preservation and Development, Social Services, Parks, and Sanitation face a collective cut of $3 billion. In this expense budget, Adams is proposing that the City spend more on the NYPD ($5.4 billion) (Expense Revenue Contract Budget, pg 30E) than on Homeless Services (pg 38E), Youth & Community Development (pg 66E), Sanitation (pg 139E) and Parks (pg 145E) combined ($5.3 billion.)

6.  For example, Mayor Adams’ Blueprint to End Gun Violence follows the wisdom of public health researchers in its assertion that gun violence is a public health issue. Yet instead of offering public health solutions, the plan overwhelmingly emphasizes law enforcement and incarceration. Similarly, the mayor’s Subway Safety Plan purports to combine service provision with policing, but really focuses on the latter. 

7.  The mayor’s preliminary capital budget cuts the parks capital budget from about $1 billion to $58 million, the housing capital budget from about $1.8 billion to $1 billion. The budget increases the jail capital budget from $408 million to $1.3 billion, and the police capital budget from 101 million to $137 million. 

8.  The half-million dollars spent on jailing an incarcerated New Yorker per year could cover 63 years worth of Section 8 vouchers for a family (according to HCR.) 

9.  The operation of abusive police practices and deadly jails continues to inflict violence for countless New Yorkers and worsen safety for all. Last year saw 16 people killed by New York City’s jails, and already another individual died on Rikers Island in 2022. 

10.  Freezing hiring for jail guards would produce about $92M in savings this year. It is not yet clear if DOC plans to hire a new class of officers this year.

11.  The NYPD experiences an annual attrition rate of 2,300 officers. According to CPR, a hiring freeze could reduce the NYPD expense budget by approximately $269,100,000. This would result in an additional baseline savings of at least $259,546,950 from the centrally-allocated costs of fringe and pensions. Additionally, the Police Cadet program is a two-year, part-time officer-in-training program. Cutting this program would result in at least $2,814,533 (Departmental Estimates, pg 1324) to be redirected to community safety solutions. 

12.  According to CPR’s 2021 report, removing 5,511 NYPD and school safety agents from schools could result in a direct reinvestment of $449,207,051 back into the Department of Education. 

13.   This amounts to $79 million baselined in the preliminary budget. 

14.  The City of New York Fiscal Year 2023 Departmental Estimates, pg 1620

15.  The City of New York Fiscal Year 2023 Departmental Estimates, pg 514

16.  Our public hospitals have been excluded from the distressed hospital fund proposal in the state budget. The hospitals that truly serve people on Medicaid, immigrants and communities of color have also not received equitable payment through the state’s Indigent Care Pool. While these funds are not in the city’s control, the Mayor budget has not addressed those gaps in the preliminary budget and how it will have an impact on communities reliant on our public hospitals and true safety-net hospitals. 

17.  The City of New York Fiscal Year 2023 Departmental Estimates, pgs 2851-2852, 2987

18.  Feb 16th 2022 Budget Function Analysis, pg 266

19.  The City of New York Preliminary Budget Fiscal Year 2023 Departmental Estimates, pg 1109

20.  Research connects long term exposure to climate degradation with COVID-19 mortality. https://projects.iq.harvard.edu/covid-pm 

21.  The City of New York Preliminary Budget Fiscal Year 2023 Expense Revenue Contract, pg 148E

22.  The City of New York Preliminary Budget Fiscal Year 2023 Expense Revenue Contract, pg 132E

23.  The City of New York Preliminary Budget Fiscal Year 2023 Expense Revenue Contract, pg 139E