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New York City Council to reverse Adams’ budget cuts

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(The Center Square) — The New York City Council is planning to restore millions of dollars in funding for public schools cut from the city’s proposed budget by Mayor Eric Adams in response to the city’s rising costs for migrants.

Council leaders announced on Monday they plan to reverse more than $1 billion in planned cuts to schools, libraries and other city services as part of their $113 billion budget plan, saying they’ve identified an additional $6.15 billion in funds that can be used to stave off the proposed cost-cutting.

“Tourism is back, jobs are back and tax revenues continue to outpace projections, even as the rest of the state sputters,” Council member Justin Brannan, chairman of the council’s finance committee, told reporters in remarks on Monday. “The people who declared New York City dead and buried have been busy editing their epitaph.”

Council members argue that the cuts should never have been made in the first place and say they plan to plow more money back into K-12 education and mental health.

They said their budget plan would reverse “destabilizing” cuts, address “under-budgeting” in Adams’ proposal and fill gaps for expiring federal stimulus funds while boosting the city’s reserves and surplus.

“The city has the resources to protect essential investments into New Yorkers while safeguarding our fiscal health, and prioritizing both goals is the path to a safer, healthier, and more stable city,” Speaker Adrienne Adams, a Democrat, said in a statement.

The council’s plans call for spending $550 million in city revenue to replace expiring federal COVID-19 stimulus funds that have supported school and student support programs such as special education, mental health and support for students living in temporary housing.

That includes an additional $60 million for the school food program, $17 million to restore school cafeteria staff to pre-pandemic levels and $3 million to fund “nutrition committees” in schools.

Councilors will also restore seven day service at the city’s library systems by pumping another $58.3 million into the budget.

The plan also calls for earmarking $3 billion for “under-budgeted costs” in the mayor’s preliminary spending plan and another $500 million for reserves. That would leave a surplus of $1 billion for “other” needs, they said.

Council leaders said the money to offset the budget cuts includes $3.35 billion in better-than-expected tax revenue in fiscal years 2024 and 2025, combined with $2.25 billion in “potential under-spending” and $550 million of in-year reserves.

In January, Adams proposed an initial $109 billion spending plan for the city’s next fiscal year that called for deep cuts in services, including education and trash collection. At the time, Adams said the cuts were necessary to cover the loss of revenue from the expiration of federal pandemic aid and the city’s rising costs for caring for migrants.

To be sure, Adams has already rolled back many of the cuts his administration had originally proposed as part of the city’s budget, restoring funding as a result of better-than-expected revenue projections, a reduction in spending on migrants and additional state aid have pumped billions into the city’s annual spending plan.

The city says it overestimated the cost of caring for migrants by $2 billion in preliminary budget projections, which has lowered the projected costs through fiscal year 2025 to $10.6 billion.

But Adams has argued that the migrant crisis is still draining the city’s resources and has reiterated calls for more assistance from the state and the federal government.

The mayor is expected to release his executive budget by April 26.

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