Mayor Bill de Blasio and Speaker Corey Johnson celebrated the city’s new $98.7 billion budget, which the City Council voted to approve on Wednesday, June 30.
“This is one of the greatest investments in working families in the history of New York City,” de Blasio said during Wednesday’s press conference in the City Hall Rotunda. “We are sending resources to the communities who need it most, this is a radical investment in working families and that’s what we need right now to come out of this pandemic and move forward.”
The spending plan, which officials with the Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget waited to upload and make available to the public until late Wednesday afternoon, is the largest in New York City history and reverses many of the cuts caused by cratering revenues amid the COVID-19 pandemic last year, restoring budgets of agencies like the Parks Department, Sanitation, cultural institutions, and libraries.
Johnson said the delay in publicizing the detailed breakdown until the budget’s deadline, one day before the new fiscal year starts on July 1, was because city legislators were hashing out the details up until the eleventh hour.
“We were going until the last minute,” Johnson told reporters. “Because we’re voting on it today, because we were spending so much time, line item by line item, it took us time to get this. So I’m sorry it got up there late, I apologize, but it was because we were working late on it, that’s the only reason why.”
One of the most controversial line items remains funding for the New York Police Department, set to increase by $200 million this year, the majority of which will go to “IT needs,” as well as reducing overtime spending, hizzoner said.
“We want to have the department be effective we need better technology to do that,” the mayor said. “The other piece — and I say this very openly — we worked together on overtime. We reduced overtime a lot. We were not able to reduce it quite as much as we wanted — that is a true statement — but we did reduce it quite a bit.”
Last year, de Blasio and the City Council promised to defund NYPD’s almost $11 billion budget by $1 billion with cuts and shifts to other agencies, following the nationwide popular uprisings against police brutality in response to the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis, but the final cutbacks in the Big Apple actually ended up being less than half that.
Progressive and left-wing candidates Maya Wiley and Dianne Morales ran on platforms to further reduce spending on New York’s Finest by $1 billion and $3 billion, respectively, and protesters have been gathering outside City Hall in the lead-up to this year’s negotiations demanding de Blasio make good on his promises to cut the Department budget.
De Blasio and Johnson touted the spending proposal as a booster for Gotham’s recovery from COVID-19, with funding for small businesses, education, and public safety.
The plan includes almost $13 billion in federal stimulus money which can be used by 2024 and the proposal includes a first-ever Rainy Day Fund, containing $993 million.
To reduce the ongoing surge in gun violence, the budget includes jobs, housing, and healthcare support for those most at risk. For example, the so-called Precision Employment Initiative will hire 1,000 people in Mott Haven, Brownsville, and South Jamaica for violence prevention at the cost of $24 million.
There are also efforts to address the spate in anti-Asian hate crimes, and an expanded mental health crisis response, according to the mayor’s office.
The budget process’s lack of transparency worried some lawmakers, including Brooklyn councilman and leading candidate to be the city’s next comptroller Brad Lander, who said the city should be more forthcoming about how it will spend the many federal dollars, adding that he was “disturbed” about the extra cash and additional headcount for NYPD and the Department of Corrections.
“This Council should not dole out hundreds of millions of dollars in discretionary funding with just a few hours notice,” Lander said in a statement. “This is the least transparent budget agreement in my 12 years as a Council Member.”
The Council voted overwhelmingly to approve the budget, with a vote of 39-9 in favor.
The “No” votes were from Inez Barron, Joe Borelli, Brad Lander, Steven Matteo, Antonio Reynoso, and Jimmy Van Bramer. Absent were Diana Ayala, Bill Perkins, Paul Vallone, as well as Farah Louis, who is recovering from a car crash.