Mayor calls for more migrant crisis funds, no new MTA tax, with less than a week until state budget deadline

Mayor Eric Adams.
Photo by Dean Moses

With all eyes on the New York State budget, due at week’s end — on April 1, Mayor Eric Adams on Sunday reiterated some of his biggest priorities in an appearance on PIX on Politics.

Speaking to PIX11’s Dan Mannarino, Adams doubled down on his desire to get more state dollars to support City Hall’s efforts providing for the over 52,000 migrants who’ve arrived here over the past year and teased ongoing negotiations surrounding Governor Kathy Hochul’s proposal that the city contribute an additional $500 million-a-year in funding for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

When asked if he is seeing an “even divide” in terms of money for the budget, Adams reiterated what he’s been saying for the past several weeks, that the “third, third, third scenario” — in which funding is evenly split three ways between the city, the state and federal government — is “just not a winnable one.”

“First of all, we’re not getting a third from a Republican controlled Congress. It’s not happening,” the mayor said. “So that third turns into two thirds, and we must really give New York the relief that they deserve. 52,000 asylum seekers that added on to the 35,000 of those who already here in our care. It’s just not right that New Yorkers are carrying the burden of all of this.”

And while hizzoner confirmed that a third is slated to come from the state, he will continue to push for more city funding, with his budget director, Jacques Jiha, saying multiple times in recent weeks that the administration wants at least an even split with Albany.

“We’re going to advocate for more. We need more,” he said. “We already spent $650 million potentially spending over $4 billion in the next fiscal year.”

Adams also said he’s not holding his breath for more funding from the federal government on top of the roughly $8 million the city has gotten so far, due to the Republican-controlled House likely having little appetite to support cities sheltering migrants.

When asked what that ongoing lack of federal funds could mean for the city, Adams said characterized unpopular proposed accross-the-board cuts to city agencies in his preliminary budget for the coming fiscal year as “efficiencies.” Those cuts are coming in the form of eliminating thousands of vacant positions across the municiple workforce.

“We’re asking everyday New Yorkers to find efficiencies in running their homes because of inflation, because of the cost of living in the city. Should we do the same? And I say yes to that,” he said. “Our goal is to let the agencies determine how they’re going to find these efficiencies in the right manner, that won’t reduce service and won’t lay off individuals.”

Adams also pushed back against a proposed $500 million more per year from the city to fund the MTA through the payroll mobility tax — an issue being championed by Governor Hochul but not supported by state legislative leaders.

“New York is already paying over $2 billion to the MTA, so to state to New Yorkers that we are going to have you pay an additional $500 million every year. No other municipality is being asked this. That is just not right,” Adams stressed, while thanking state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie for not including the scheme in their own budget resolutions.  

“And I want to take my hat off to Speaker Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Carl Heastie, Assembly leader,” he said. “They looked at it, their members, our delegation said, wait a minute, we can’t do this to New York. And now they’re negotiating.”

When asked by Mannarino if that meant no money for the MTA from the city, Adams said it’s not over ’till it’s over.

“We don’t know yet until the budget is passed,” he said, “and Albany is never final until it’s final.”