‘It’s gonna be fine’: Mayor Adams shrugs off lack of more migrant aid in state lawmakers’ budget plans

Mayor Adams speaks about migrant aid
Mayor Eric Adams appears unbothered by state lawmakers matching Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposal to give the city $2.4 billion in migrant crisis aid, despite saying he wants more. Tuesday, March 12, 2024.
Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office.

Mayor Eric Adams appeared unbothered Tuesday after Albany lawmakers declined to propose any more migrant aid for the city other than the $2.4 billion that Gov. Kathy Hochul floated in her Fiscal Year 2025 executive budget earlier this year — despite previously saying he wants the state to pick up half the tab.

“Albany’s gonna do what Albany’s supposed to do,” Hizzoner said, during his weekly City Hall press conference on March 12.

“We do this dance every year, this is not a new dance,” the mayor continued, in reference to state budget negotiations. “This is the beginning of the process. It’s going to be alright. All we have to do is just take a deep breath, it’s gonna be fine. We’re gonna make sure we get the things we need.”

Mayor Adams said this in response to a reporter’s question about both the state Senate and Assembly proposing the same amount as the governor in their own budget plans — known as “one-house budget resolutions” — released this week. He added the city has “great advocates” in Albany who are pushing forward his agenda, which also includes items such as a crackdown on unlicensed cannabis shops and the extension of mayoral control of public schools.

As recently as last month, Adams said he wanted the state to cover at least 50% of the sizable sum the city is shelling out to provide shelter, food and other services for the tens of thousands of migrants in the five boroughs. 

In effect, that means the mayor and his team want the state to chip in $4.6 billion over part of the current fiscal year — Fiscal Year 2024 — and the next. However, that was before he announced a 10% trim in migrant spending, on top of an earlier 20% reduction, last month.

According to its latest prediction, the Adams administration estimates it will spend north of $10 billion on the influx by next summer. The projection was lowered from $12 billion in January, when the mayor began enacting his plan to slash migrant costs.

Adams has often lamented how the city’s immense spending on the migrant influx over the past two years, absent significant financial assistance from the federal government, has put a massive strain on its finances and resources. He says the expense, which has already amounted to over $4 billion, forced him to make several rounds of budget cuts over the past 12 months in order to balance the city’s books.

City Hall has also asserted that only $1.1 billion of the governor’s $2.4 billion proposal would be new funding, with the other $1.3 billion having already been committed for large-scale shelters on Randall’s Island, at Brooklyn’s Floyd Bennett Field and at the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in eastern Queens.

But Hochul, when asked Tuesday about the mayor’s request to throw more money his way in the forthcoming spending plan, suggested she will not be going above the amount she already proposed.

“The migrant ask is important and we said that we would respond and we have responded with a significant amount of money from New York taxpayers,” Hochul said, noting that amount includes an additional $500 million that she pulled out of the state’s reserves.

The governor said the state also pays for 2,100 national guard members, health care costs and over $86 million on tracking migrants to help them apply to jobs — all of which are on top of the $2.4 billion in shelter reimbursements.

“There’s a lot of secondary costs that aren’t housing, but that the state has absorbed,” she said. “All that goes in the equation of what our true contribution is in this situation.”