Mayor Eric Adams released his executive budget for the City on Thursday, kicking off what is shaping up to be the most contentious City budget fight in more than a decade. To make up for the winding down of federal pandemic relief funds, Adams has called for cuts to services like libraries and funding for nonprofits, and continues to push down the headcount for the City's workforce by eliminating some 8,600 positions over the next two years. With more than 23,000 City positions still vacant, the net result is that agencies like the Department of Transportation are far less capable of creating safer streets, and the Human Resources Administration is less able to process food stamps quickly or find more permanent housing to get families out of the City's shelter system.
The City Council, still burned from last year's disastrous process where members of the council's progressive caucus signed off on school budget cuts and then immediately tried to undo them, has signaled that it's ready to fight Adams on cuts and take a far more adversarial attitude than last year's hug-fest. Both City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and the council's budget chair Justin Brannan slammed the proposed budget, and pledged to fight for more funding for social services as the City tries to pass a budget by June. The city comptroller, Brad Lander, issued a statement which cautioned that while the City has not yet built up enough reserves to weather a possible recession (comptrollers love to build up reserves!), it still shouldn't pursue cuts that would hurt its economic growth in the future, like those proposed for universal 3-K, CUNY, and libraries. Both Lander and Adams called on the state legislature to up their financial commitment to New York City, especially to help pay for services for arriving migrants.
While Adams has unleashed his apocalyptic budget, it's unclear whether New York City is actually facing a possible budget crisis or just general uncertainty about what lies ahead. Still, the Adams administration has viewed it as an opportunity to push for an austerity agenda that severely hampers City government just when many of the poorest New Yorkers need it the most. Will the City Council swallow the pill again? We'll soon find out.
And finally, the saga of George Santos continues. While his own Long Island Republican compatriots call for his resignation, it turns out his "operations director" is tied to a far-right fascist-adjacent group, and now newspapers are tripping him up in a whole new way: