Op-Ed | Creating a safer, more prosperous and equitable New York City with the budget

Mayor Eric Adams
Photo by Dean Moses

Every year, the Mayor presents a budget to the people of New York City. This budget is about much more than what we are spending and what we are spending it on. It is a statement of values and a declaration of purpose: Creating a safer, more prosperous and equitable city for all.

This is the city that our responsible and focused Fiscal Year 2024 Preliminary Budget continues to make possible.

Since Day One, fiscal discipline has been the hallmark of this administration. We are focused on governing efficiently and getting results. Over the past year, we have made our city safer and continued our economic recovery. We have funded and will continue to support programs that benefit everyday New Yorkers — including public safety, affordable housing, and clean streets. 

It can be tempting to add a bunch of new spending, and certainly there are many who will call for us to spend beyond our means. But we can’t put the future of our city at risk by overextending ourselves today. It will just force deeper cuts and greater pain down the line.

With lower tax revenues, rising health care costs, and the continuing crisis of asylum seekers being bused into New York City, we must proceed with caution and clarity. And thanks to strong fiscal management, we were able to save $3 billion over this fiscal year and the next. And we accomplished this without laying off a single employee or reducing services, especially when it comes to the NYPD and public safety.

I am proud that, despite the many challenges I’ve mentioned, our budget protects funding for the transformative programs we’ve rolled out over the past year, including the Earned Income Tax Credit, which directly benefits working families, the largest summer jobs program in City history, and violence prevention programs for communities most affected by the epidemic of gun violence. And we’re not waiting any longer to invest in the housing our city needs, starting in Willets Point, where we will transform the neighborhood with thousands of units of affordable housing and a world-class soccer stadium.

In addition, we have continued to invest in our students and schools. This includes more resources for students with disabilities, literacy and dyslexia screenings, summer enrichment, healthy food, career pathways, and the gifted and talented programs.

Even with federal stimulus money running out, we’ve kept per student funding at a higher level than before the pandemic, adding an additional $80 million to that funding pool for Fiscal Year 2024. This keeps the total at $160 million for another academic year. We were also able to increase the capital funding our city uses to build and maintain the infrastructure we all rely on, including affordable housing, health care facilities, parks and other public spaces.

And as every New Yorker knows, it’s important to be prepared for change. Whether it’s new labor contracts, asylum seeker costs, or the next unexpected event—the bills will come due.

That’s why this Preliminary Budget maintains reserves at a record $8.3 billion, an amount that will allow us to respond effectively to any unforeseen events. Our disciplined and efficient budget keeps us safe and allows us to continue to provide the essential services New Yorkers rely on.

This is just the beginning of a process, and we look forward to working with our communities and our Council colleagues on the final budget. There may be those who say that we should do things differently, that we should extend ourselves further, save less and spend more. But as mayor, the buck stops with me. It is my responsibility to keep our city strong and resilient, prepared for whatever lies ahead.