(The Center Square) — New York City Mayor Eric Adams is moving to slash the city’s budget amid the rising costs of caring for tens of thousands of migrants.
Adams announced on Thursday that the city is seeking $4 billion in across-the-board budget reductions over the next year that he says will mean fewer police officers on the streets, fewer teachers in classrooms and deep cuts to programs and services.
New York has taken in more than 142,000 migrants over the past year, and the Adams administration blames this crisis for these cuts. Adams said without additional federal aid, these cuts will continue.
“This is the most painful exercise I’ve ever done in my professional life,” Adams, a Democrat, said in a pre-recorded video announcing the cuts. “That will mean disruptions to the services you all rely on.”
Police unions say the cuts will mean the NYPD will have fewer than 30,000 employees for the first time in decades to close the city’s $7 billion budget gap.
Patrick Henry, president of the New York City Police Benevolent Association, said the cuts would roll back three decades of progress on public safety.
“This is truly a disaster for every New Yorker who cares about safe streets,” he said in a statement. “Cops are already stretched to our breaking point, and these cuts will return us to staffing levels we haven’t seen since the crime epidemic of the ‘80s and ‘90s. We cannot go back there.”
But other New York leaders, acknowledging the city’s fiscal challenges, pushed back against Adams’ claims that the migrant crisis is behind the deep cuts.
“City Hall should stop suggesting that asylum seekers are the reason for imposing severe cuts when they are only contributing to a portion of these budget gaps, much of which already existed,” City Comptroller Brad Lander said in a statement. “Scapegoating immigrants for those cuts is antithetical to the defining role of New York as a beacon of promise, inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty.”
He said the Adams administration should work on “helping asylum seekers file their Temporary Protected Status and asylum applications, obtain work authorizations, get jobs, move out of shelter and contribute to the economy — to avoid slashing services to them and all New Yorkers.”
The New York City Council, which will take up the budget plan next week, issued a statement attributing the budget gaps largely to “the expiration of federal COVID stimulus funds, economic impacts of the pandemic, and additional spending.”
“This includes expenditures on services in response to an increased number of asylum seekers arriving in the city, but those did not create our budget gaps and are not the only factor contributing to our fiscal reality,” the council said. “This moment requires effectively managing with precision to protect vital services for New Yorkers.”
The Adams administration is warning city agencies they should brace for two more rounds of 5% budget cuts early next year – totaling another 10% – if the city doesn’t get more state or federal aid to help with the ongoing influx of migrants.
“To balance the budget as the law requires, every city agency dug into their own budget to find savings, with minimal disruption to services,” Adams said. “And while we pulled it off this time, make no mistake: Migrant costs are going up, tax revenue growth is slowing, and COVID stimulus funding is drying up.”