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New York City officials reverse budget cuts to libraries

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(The Center Square) — New York City Mayor Eric Adams and the City Council have reached a deal to reverse cuts to the city’s libraries, arts and cultural programs prompted by the city’s costs of caring for tens of thousands of migrants.

The agreement announced by Adams and City Council President Adrienne Adams on Friday will restore $58.3 million in funding to the three New York City public library systems and another $53 million to cultural institutions, previously cut from the fiscal year 2025 city budget.

Adams said the deal will provide an “on-time, balanced budget that invests in the programs and initiatives that our city’s residents care about and that make our city safer, more affordable, and more livable.”

“These institutions are a critical part of New York City’s social fabric, which New Yorkers depend on for their children’s growth and the vibrancy of our city,” the Democrat said in a statement. “The budget will ensure these essential institutions will have what they need to serve New Yorkers and attract visitors every day of the week.”

The wrangling over the library cuts had become a political liability for Adams, whose favorability rating took a hit in the polls as a result of the proposed cost-cutting.

Adams faced pressure from Council members and library officials, who mounted an aggressive public relations campaign to stave off the cuts. The campaign enlisted former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Whoopi Goldberg.

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.

Facing criticism, Adams ended up rolling 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 pumped billions back into the city’s annual spending plan.

The Adams administration restored funding for the New York City Police Department to add another police academy class of 600 recruits to join the ranks in April. The city also walked back cuts in funding to the Fire Department of the City of New York, restoring funds to return a fifth firefighter at 20 engine companies, among other spending items.

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.

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.

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