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Morning Spew

Eric Adams Drops Another 4 Percent Budget Cut on City Agencies

Snip snip.

9:24 AM EDT on April 5, 2023

MTA New York City Transit President Richard Davey at the Jackson Heights–Roosevelt Av/74 St station on Thursday, March 30, 2023, the first day of station agents being deployed outside of booths to provide customer service.
(Marc A. Hermann / MTA)

When you think of New York City's agencies—the ones that run our schools, our homeless shelters, our public health initiatives, our courts, and our libraries—what do you think of? Opulence and wanton spending, right? Well, no longer, thanks to a letter from the Adams administration released yesterday that announced a blanket four percent budget cut for almost every City agency, in preparation for the release of the mayor's proposed 2024 City budget. Finally! Those fat cat social workers have been living high on the hog for way too long!

In all seriousness, this isn't the Adams administration's first time at the austerity rodeo. This round of cuts would be the fourth "Program to Eliminate the Gap," or PEG, and comes at a time when City agencies continue to actively struggle to function due to the previous PEGs, hiring freezes, and widespread employee retention issues. This time, the only City agencies escaping the full four percent cut are the Department of Education and the City University of New York—sorry, cops! But really, the DOE and CUNY aren't getting away clean, either. Instead, they'll have to lop three percent off of their budgets to "minimize disruption to schools." Minimal disruption, eh? CUNY professors strongly disagree.

The Adams administration's announcement, which landed when every reporter in town was fixated on the former president's arraignment, received immediate pushback from concerned councilmembers. Speaker Adrienne Adams and the Council's Finance Committee chair Justin Brannan released a joint statement that called the cuts "a demonstration in excess" and pushed back against the migrant crisis narrative: "The Administration continues to rhetorically convey ever-changing costs for supporting asylum seekers, despite never providing the Council with any substantive response to our repeated requests for evidence of these costs." 

The legislators pointed to the mayor's inability to successfully transition the recent wave of asylum seekers out of the homeless shelter system and into more permanent housing as one profound and expensive failure that City agencies are now expected to offset.

"You know the emoji where the eyes are really big? I was just like, 'What?' I mean, how do you pull blood from a stone?" Brooklyn City Councilmember Sandy Nurse told Hell Gate when asked for comment on Tuesday morning, mid-MTG rally, as news of the cuts broke. "We have so many City agencies that aren't able to deliver effective, essential services to people who are in real need—people who are facing eviction, people who are facing domestic violence, people who are facing multiple crises in their home life, in their community."

Nurse added, "We're not filling positions, and we're not hiring people at competitive rates to retain highly qualified people who want to work for the City, who want to deliver good services. I just don't know what kind of city we want to live in."

But the worst part might be that the same measures that will kneecap City agencies in the short term will never be enough to satisfy the patron saints of austerity. In a statement on the mayor's announcement, the Citizens Budget Commission called the PEG "timely, if not overdue" in the face of an "impending fiscal wall," i.e., a potential $14 billion budget gap by fiscal year 2027. Awesome.

City agencies now have nine days to let the Adams administration know where their four percent cut will come from—a deadline the New York Times called "unusually short." I guess desperate times call for desperate measures—and especially for the New Yorkers who rely on City services for food and housing, these are definitely desperate times.

Maybe reading some of these links will help you feel better about our crumbling infrastructure: 

  • First Megan Fox and MGK split up, now this?! Love isn't real!
  • DC37 pushed back against Hochul's plans to roll back bail reform.
  • James Dolan's TV spot didn't do him any favors in court, which is crazy because he's so charismatic.
  • Are we sure mass incarceration is really "winding down"?
  • Police misconduct is getting a little too expensive for some councilmembers' liking.
  • Surprise, surprise—not everyone is loving Columbia University's proposed Tel Aviv research hub.
  • NYCHA residents aren't buying the push to privatize their housing.
  • Let's go Brandon! (We are extremely jealous.)
  • Why are New York's kids into swatting again? Is it TikTok? Are they swatting because of TikTok?
  • Discord for Los Deliveristas Unidos as their fight for better working conditions and a higher minimum pay rate drags on.
  • Tough break for Jacob Garlick, who still has to pay $19 million for the Flatiron Building even though they'll probably auction it off again in a few months.
  • The average person incarcerated at Rikers spends a whopping 115 days on the island.
  • This is pure speculation, but I think Melania was too busy taking more pictures of beluga whales to attend Trump's post-arraignment speech.
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