Mayor Adams’ $111 billion executive budget plan restores some critical cuts, but shuts out libraries

Mayor Eric Adams holds rally celebrating rollout of executive budget
Mayor Eric Adams at a rally celebrating the roll out of his $111.6 billion Fiscal Year 2025 executive budget. Wednesday, April 24, 2024.
Photo by Ethan Stark-Miller

Eight months after ordering most city agencies to dramatically cut their spending, Mayor Eric Adams on Wednesday unveiled a $111.6 billion budget plan that restores some slashed funding — but still leaves areas such as the city’s public libraries on the chopping block.

Hizzoner’s Fiscal Year 2025 executive spending plan clocks in at roughly $2 billion more than his $109 billion preliminary budget released in January and $4 billion greater than this year’s $107 billion adopted budget.

The plan’s release kicks off another round of City Council hearings examining its contents and negotiations between the two sides of City Hall to agree on a final budget, which must be passed by June 30.

The mayor, during a livestreamed speech on Wednesday, said his executive budget resulted from his administration’s “prudent and strategic fiscal approach” that both “stabilized” the city’s finances and addressed his top priorities.

“The executive budget speaks volumes about our core priorities: public safety, a stronger economy, and a more livable city for working class people,” the mayor said.

Restoring the cuts

Adams celebrated the plan’s restorations to areas where he previously slashed funding, including the city’s public schools, child care programs, police academy classes and cultural institutions.

The $514 million in restored school funding — which is replacing expired federal stimulus dollars — is going toward mental health supports in schools and the expansion of the city’s 3-K program, among other initiatives. The restorations to the NYPD will bring back tow of five police academy classes the mayor cut last fall — which come on top of a third class was restored in January, meaning an additional 1,200 cops will join the department’s ranks this year.

Adams said he was able to restore funding due to better-than-expected tax revenues that were revised $2.3 billion upward from where they stood in January and a plan to reduce spending on newly arrived migrants by 30%.

“We have successfully stabilized our city’s financial outlook by maintaining key education programs, investing in more police officers, helping asylum seekers take the next steps in their journeys and delivering for working class people,” Adams said.

The restorations come after the mayor announced three rounds of 5% cuts to balance the budget, due to increased spending on the migrant crisis, last September. Since then, Adams has slowly walked back across-the-board trims he enacted in November and January and canceled a third round planned for the executive budget.

But the budget notably does not restore the $58.6 billion in cut funding for the city’s three public library systems and still includes $7.2 billion in spending reductions between Fiscal Years 2024 and 2025 overall.

‘Step in the right direction’ for Council

City Council leadership argued, as it has throughout the budget process, that Adams has enough money at his disposal to reverse all of his cuts and that the reductions were never necessary in the first place. That was evident in the council’s own budget plan released earlier this month, which identified over $6 billion in tax revenue, unspent funds and in-year reserves that must be spent before the start of the new fiscal year.

City Council Finance Chair Justin Brannan, during a news conference following the budget’s release, said Adams’ budget office is leaving about $1 billion of those funds the council identified on the table. Brannan called the mayor’s plan a “step in the right direction” but not the “full loaf” the council was hoping for.

“The council has really been steady since the end of last year, that there’s more than enough money here, in terms of tax revenue, higher than expected tax revenue, more than enough here to restore all the cuts to get us back to zero and then some,” Brannan said. “And what we saw today in the mayor’s executive budget, it restores a fraction of those cuts, but not everything. So, there’s still a lot of work to do.”

City Council Finance Chair Justin Brannan speaks to reporters following the release of Mayor Eric Adams’ Fiscal Year 2025 executive budget. Wednesday, April 24, 2024.Photo by Ethan Stark-Miller

Reading into library cuts

Leaders of the city’s three public library systems — the New York, Brooklyn and Queens Public Libraries — said the “devastating” cuts that remained in the executive could result in them reducing service at most branches to just five days a week. The libraries previous ended Sunday service at most branches following the mayor’s November savings plan.

“The $58.3M in cuts that Libraries are facing, if enacted, threaten to upend much of the progress we’ve made over the past few years, and will severely impact vulnerable communities who need our services the most,” they said, in a statement.

However, Adams defended the move during a press conference following his budget roll out.

The mayor argued his budget office instructed libraries to find places to make trims, but did not specifically tell them to cut service hours. Additionally, he said the libraries should reach into their “substantial” endowments to cover the gaps.

“We did not tell libraries to close on Sundays,” Adams said. “And I keep saying over and over again all of us have to dig deeper. Some of our libraries have substantial endowments … this is the time to say “as we help New Yorkers get through this unprecedented humanitarian crisis, we all should be stepping up in any way that’s possible.'”

New York Public Library spokesperson Jennifer Fermino responded “simply put: this is not how endowments work.” She said much of the system’s endowment goes toward funding its public Research Libraries in perpetuity and the funding is restricted by donors and cannot be used to replace city funds.

Other places where the budget keeps cuts in place are the two remaining NYPD academy classes, $50.5 million in Parks Department programs and millions of dollars in unfilled 3-K and Universal Pre-K seats.

The mayor insisted that “every child” who wants a 3-K or Pre-K seat “will have access ” to one, even with the elimination of tens of thousands of vacant spots. He added that his budget includes $5 million to boost outreach to fill vacant seats.

“Every child who wants a seat will have access to a seat,” the mayor said. “But we have to make sure we’re rightsizing. It was not rightsized, we were just celebrating the number of seats.”

But Brannan contended that the high number of vacant seats is because of a lack of substantial outreach, rather than a lack of interest.

“The promise that every child that wants a seat can get one is great, it’s great to hear,” Brannan said. “But every parent needs to know that the seat exists in order for that to happen.”