Council Speaker says Mayor Adams must still reverse sizable spending cuts, with budget talks set to start next week

City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams
City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams says she is ‘relieved’ Mayor Eric Adams cancelled his planned April budget cuts, but that he still has to reverse cuts from last year and January.
Credit: Emil Cohen/NYC Council Media Unit

City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said Wednesday that while she was “relieved” to see Mayor Eric Adams cancel planned April budget cuts last week, he should still reverse spending reductions made last year and in January across city agencies.

Hizzoner says he was able to avoid further across-the-board cuts in April because of higher-than-anticipated tax revenue and a plan to slash migrant costs by an additional 10%, on top of a 20% trim to spending on services for newcomers he enacted last month. The mayor also eased up on a full city government hiring freeze, instead allowing for a new 2-for-1 hiring policy.

The mayor’s move comes after he last month reversed some of the cuts he made to the NYPD, FDNY, Sanitation and Education Departments in November and spared the city’s public libraries from additional cuts as well.

He has maintained the cuts were necessary in the first place to close a sizable $7.1 billion budget gap driven by immense spending on providing for tens of thousands of new arrivals.

But the speaker, and many council members, have questioned how dire of a budget crisis the city was ever in given the mayor’s quick reversals and charge the cuts were unnecessary.

“The council has been steadfast that many of these blunt cuts were never necessary in the first place,” the speaker said, during a Wednesday afternoon news briefing. “Rather than making indiscriminate cuts, it’s important that our city takes a better approach that protects and prioritizes essential services that New Yorkers rely on to be healthy and safe.”

The speaker’s comments come as the council is due to begin holding hearings on the mayor’s Fiscal Year 2025 preliminary budget proposal, released last month, on Monday.

Speaker Adams said she is particularly concerned about city agencies not being able to adequately provide New Yorkers with essential services, due to widespread vacancies across city government. For instance, she said, the top constituent complaint in her southeast Queens district is an inability to access food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program — better known as food stamps.

“What are we doing if we can’t give our citizens what they deserve and what they need to survive: food?” the speaker said. “So, yeah, we’re going back to the table, we’re going back to prioritize those things that should have never been taken away from New Yorkers in the first place.”

The rate by which the city is processing food stamp applications has dropped dramatically over the past two fiscal years, with just 14.3% of the claims being processed in a timely manner between last July and October, according to city data released last month.

However, Adams has maintained his administration has exercised “strong fiscal management,” citing several credit rating agencies like Moody’s that praised the way his office handled its budget challenges in recent statements.

“The experts say we are doing it right,” Adams said, during a Tuesday news conference. “We have accomplished this through proactive fiscal management, stabilization of asylum seeker spending and a strong economic recovery.”