‘The stakes are high’: Council calls for more social services funding ahead of Adams’ executive budget

A day before Mayor Eric Adams presents his executive budget, top New York City Council members continued to push for an additional $1.3 billion in spending to be added to the city’s spending plan. ‘next year.

Lawmakers have pushed for investments in youth programs, hospitals and mental health programs, and other social services. They argued that the services are essential for the city’s most vulnerable residents amid the pandemic recovery and should be included in the $99 billion spending plan that Adams first proposed in february.

“This is the biggest budget for our city in a long, long time,” Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said at a news conference Monday on the steps of City Hall where she was flanked by a dozen council members. “Because the stakes are high for our communities and for all New Yorkers.”

Read more: The NYC budget process is entering its next phase. Here’s what awaits us

The mayor is due to deliver a formal budget speech at the Kings Theater in Brooklyn on Tuesday, which will also serve as his first 100-day evaluation of his term in office.

The executive budget is one of the final stages of the city’s budget process. Prepared by the Office of Management and Budget, it responds to requests from the Board following a series of hearings that took place in March. The release of the executive budget kicks off another round of hearings, followed by further negotiations between Council and the mayor’s office, before the budget is voted on July 1.

In February, Mayor Adams proposed a preliminary budget of $98.5 billion that he called “radically practical” while funneling more aid to the poor, including a dramatic expansion of the jobs program. summer for the young people of the city. While the budget fell short of the $103 billion current-year budget approved by former Mayor Bill de Blasio, an analysis by budget watchdog group Citizens Budget Commission found that Adams’ preliminary plan would increase in makes the city spending about 2.3%.

Projected tax revenues have supported city finances, but the slow recovery and the drying up of federal stimulus funds have been a source of concern for fiscal watchdogs.

But the most targeted criticism of Adams has come from progressive lawmakers who have opposed his approach to tackling crime. New York City has seen a wave of violent crime that has rocked residents and threatened the city’s recovery – most recently a Brooklyn subway shooting that injured dozens.

Citywide, major crimes are up nearly 43% from the same time last year, according to the latest NYPD statistics.

The mayor has bolstered subway policing and deployed a new anti-weapons unit, though he said he would not increase the NYPD’s budget, which currently stands at $11 billion including overtime and benefits.

Over the weekend, Adams appeared to throw an olive branch at the Council. The mayor unveiled two additional proposals that were generally well received. On Saturday, he announced a $900 million plan to build more bike lanes and buses. He followed that up on Sunday by pledging to spend an additional $171 million to fund safe havens — a form of low-barrier homeless shelters that the city says can reduce street homelessness.

Speaker Adams said Monday that she and other council members are seeking to ensure the budget reflects a holistic approach to crime, a theme the mayor has also often addressed.

“Our communities are experiencing crises on so many fronts and this fundamental reality must be addressed if we are truly committed to having a safer city,” she said. “We know that strong communities are the safest because when a community is well, it is a powerful and resilient force against crime.”

“And well-being means that people live in conditions that promote health and connectedness and that they have the dignity and resources to reach their full potential and thrive,” she added. “That must be our goal.”

On Monday, Council members took turns advocating for proposals for additional spending on social services: $45 million to support hospitals in underserved neighborhoods, $12 million for coordinators dedicated to helping homeless children, $73 million for mental health awareness, and $30 million to fund free meals for seniors.

Justin Brannan, a Brooklyn council member who chairs the finance committee, said council economists said the city could afford the extra spending. In addition to adding $1.3 billion in expenses, the Council is also asking the city to increase its contribution to the city’s so-called Rainy-Day-Fund to handle unexpected crises. The Board is also looking to enhance the retiree health care trust plan.

“What we’re saying today is that we’re not going to claw our way out of the recovery,” Brannan said. “You have to invest and the money is there.”

The city has until June 30 to approve a final budget.

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