City Council approves $112 billion city budget on deadline day

City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams announces budget deal
City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams.
Emil Cohen/NYC Council Media Unit

The City Council on Sunday voted to approve a $112.4 billion New York City budget, which restores some of Mayor Eric Adams’ most unpopular cuts but maintains others.

The Council approved the budget, the largest ever, by a 46-3 margin following last week’s tentative handshake agreement between Mayor Adams and Speaker Adrienne Adams (no relation).

Restored in the budget agreement were the mayor’s proposed cuts to libraries and cultural institutions, proposals which had proved deeply unpopular with voters. It also expands the Fair Fares half-priced MetroCard program to more low-income New Yorkers, saw funding cuts restored to HIV and composting programs, and invested $2 billion in capital money for affordable housing development.

However, funding remained slashed in other areas. Education was hit particularly hard, with the mayor’s proposed cuts to pre-K, 3-K, and CUNY only partially clawed back by the Council in negotiations. Parks also suffered, with funding only partially restored from the mayor’s previously announced $55 million in cuts.

The mayor has insisted that the cuts he annually proposes are necessary due to the financial impact of the asylum seeker crisis. The Council has contended that the cuts are not financially necessary.

“Every single win was hard fought on behalf of our neighbors and our fellow New Yorkers,” said Speaker Adams at a Sunday press conference. “We have to shift from a focus on restoring to one of strengthening programs and services that we know New Yorkers need and deserve.”

In explaining their yes votes, numerous members of the Council made largely the same argument.

“It is totally unacceptable that we have been forced to spend our time, our energy, our resources on restoring cuts, rather than on growing critical sources for New Yorkers,” said Manhattan Democrat Julie Menin.

Still, many progressive lawmakers who voted against last year’s budget opted to vote for this one, citing the fact that funding had been restored to key areas and that many items like libraries had gotten funding “baselined,” meaning a certain amount of funding is set to be included in the next budget and cannot be trifled with by the executive branch.

“The budget that we’re voting on today is imperfect,” said Brooklyn Democrat Lincoln Restler. But, he added, “we got a lot more than Eric Adams wanted to give.”

In a statement, Mayor Adams applauded the Council’s passage of the budget: “We faced our challenges head-on with the City Council, and thanks to our strong fiscal management, we are able to pass a budget that all New Yorkers can be proud of.”

Not everyone felt the same way, though.

The three no votes on the budget came from Council Members Tiffany Cabán of Queens and Alexa Avilés and Shahana Hanif of Brooklyn — all of whom are affiliated with the Democratic Socialists of America. While the three of them praised their colleagues for clawing back funding the mayor proposed to axe, they felt the cuts were still too deep to gain their support.

“A budget is about choices and Mayor Adams has made the wrong ones,” said Hanif. “New Yorkers deserve proactive investments that strengthen the resources their families need. I cannot sign off on a budget that despite the Council’s best efforts, continues us down Mayor Adams’s path of austerity.”