City Budget: Union Holds the Line to Cuts to Services

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After months of contentious negotiations, often the hallmark of the New York City budget process, Mayor Eric Adams and the New York City Council reached a $107 billion budget agreement for Fiscal Year 2024.

The handshake agreement took place on June 29. The City Council passed the final budget by mid-afternoon the following day, hours before the midnight deadline.

At a City Hall event to announce the agreement, Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said, “We took seriously our task to negotiate the best possible outcomes and deliver results. Through complex negotiations, the City Council worked to bridge the distance between the Mayor and us by fighting to restore investments in essential services and fund many programs for our families and communities.”

Mayor Adams said the agreement comes during a budget cycle dominated by great challenges and unexpected crises. “I am proud to say that we have successfully navigated through these many crosscurrents to arrive at a strong and fiscally responsible budget,” he said.

The $107 billion budget reflects the Council’s priorities and the union’s push to restore investments in essential city services, health and safety, education, and quality of life. The budget is $6 billion more than the agreement struck last year.

“You can tell me what you care about, but prove it to me by showing me what you spend your money on, especially when times are tough, and money is tight,” said Council Member Justin Brannan, Chair of the Council’s Finance Committee. “It all comes down to priorities, and from the start of these negotiations, we were laser-focused on protecting what New Yorkers need to recover, succeed, and be healthy and safe.”

Union Pressure a Factor in Restoring Budget Cuts to Libraries, Cultural Institutions

From the initial stages when Mayor Adams released his Executive Budget in January until the final round of negotiations, the city’s agencies, libraries, and cultural institutions faced millions of dollars in proposed budget cuts.

In demanding these budget cuts, the Mayor cited the economic crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and the costs associated with providing needed services for tens of thousands of asylum seekers arriving in the city. These claims were made despite the city’s revenue from the year landing $2 billion higher than what was initially expected.

Throughout the budget process, DC 37 went into action, campaigning against the proposed cuts and pressing the City Council to stand firm against the Mayor’s proposed budget.

Although the Adams Administration walked back an initial 4% cut to public library budgets, they insisted on $36 million in reductions for the three public library systems. Had these cuts gone through, they would have led to reduced hours and eliminated library services throughout the five boroughs.

“A budget is a statement of values. If you believe in libraries, then you make sure they remain funded. If you believe in workers, then you make sure they are funded,” said DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido at a May 18 rally demanding the restoration of library funding. “You can’t keep calling us essential and then cutting workers providing services to the people. We are sick and tired of this game being played.”

Pressure by DC 37, union allies in the City Council, and community activists helped hold the line on the cuts. The approved budget restored the $36 million in funding for the libraries.

Additionally, the budget restored $40 million to the city’s cultural institutions through the Cultural Institutions Group and Cultural Development Fund.

The New York City FY ’24 budget includes the following:

  • No cuts to individual school budgets
  • $32.4 million funding restored to the City University of New York (CUNY)
    100 City Park Workers job lines extended to June 30, 2024
  • $4.1 million to maintain 50 Urban Park Rangers, members of Local 983
  • Workers at nonprofit agencies providing contracted human services to New York City, including homeless shelters and senior centers, will receive $40 million in funding for cost-of-living increases and $90 million in 2025
  • Help for working families struggling with balancing work and child care with $15 million to convert 1,900 vacant standard early childhood education seats to extended day care seats
  • $50 million in the capital budget for redesign and enhancements for 100 middle and high school cafeterias
  • An increase in capital funding for affordable housing next year from $2.2 billion to $4 billion

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