opinion | The wrong way to cut New York City’s budget

Author: Yuvi May 20, 2023  opinion |  The wrong way to cut New York City's budget

After a decade-long spending spree and a devastating pandemic, New York City is now staring at three years of huge budget deficits, starting with at least $4.2 billion in the year beginning July 2024.

Mayor Eric Adams, rightly so, is trying to squeeze some savings out of the city’s $106 billion budget. But so far, he seems to be making some strange choices.

One of the most mysterious is the decision to undermine the city’s free prekindergarten initiative by proposing a $567 million funding cut to the program and stalling its planned expansion. There are signs the program needs attention: It has about 30,000 empty seats. As Bloomberg reported on May 15, the city owes prekindergarten providers hundreds of millions of dollars in back pay, leaving many of them struggling to survive. But instead of making cuts, New York City should expand its access and pay providers their dues. Poverty is on the rise in New York. This is not the time to reduce funding for a program that provides early education to 90,000 children citywide and could serve tens of thousands more.

Also on the cut block in the mayor’s budget proposal: $5 million for a program that distributes meals to city seniors and $17 million for contractors who provide therapy, job placement and other social services for people in city jails . Frank Dwyer, a spokesman for the Department of Corrections, said in a statement that the agency will provide social services previously performed by contractors. But that can be difficult in the city’s prison complexes, where violence and inmate deaths continue.

The cuts to these vital programs are part of an overall search for savings through a 4 percent cut for nearly every city agency ordered by the mayor in April. In the 2024 fiscal year budget, which must be approved by June 30, the impact of many of these cuts on everyday New Yorkers could be relatively small. But with the deficit expected to grow to at least $6 billion in fiscal year 2026 and at least $7 billion in 2027, Mr. Adams will need a more targeted approach. Enacting sweeping cuts to city agencies in the coming years is almost certain to reduce core services for New Yorkers who need them most.

A better approach would be for the Adams administration to hunt more carefully for savings that have minimal impact on residents, and eliminate programs that aren’t working while continuing to invest heavily in areas like housing. and programs that help vulnerable New Yorkers. ,

“It takes sleeve-rolled work,” Andrew Rein, chairman of the Citizens Budget Commission, a nonpartisan budget watchdog group, told the Times. The city council, which must approve the budget, has challenged the mayor’s budget cuts; It is a good thing that he wants to do so.

Some city agencies serving New Yorkers in poverty are severely understaffed and urgently need more investment. At one such agency, wait times for the Human Resources Administration, food stamps and other benefits are now often months long.

So what can be cut? One area of ​​potential savings is reducing overtime worked by the city’s uniformed employees. New York City spent $1.56 billion on such overtime last year, according to a report by Comptroller Brad Lander. The New York Police Department took home $671 million, or 43 percent of that overtime.

The Citizens Budget Commission has suggested reducing administrative costs by consolidating the city’s dozens of federal welfare benefit and annuity funds.

The city’s independent budget office has additional ideas, such as eliminating $75 million in rental assistance to charter schools and raising revenue by creating a citizen complaint program for vehicles that violate bike lanes. It also recommended the hiring of more tax auditors in the Finance Department, a move the group said could add $165 million in revenue to the city budget each year.

Reports from New York’s budget watchdog suggest the city’s economic outlook, while far from dire, is shaky. As the country moves toward a precarious economy, revenue in New York City is projected to continue to rise, but modestly. The city will face nearly $16 billion in costs from labor settlements in coming years, and the mayor says it will cost at least $4.3 billion in the coming year alone to serve the thousands of migrants arriving from the southern border. Although the independent Budget Office says those costs are likely to be much lower. The $13.5 billion in federal stimulus aid that helped shore up municipal budgets during the pandemic is mostly gone.

Mr. Adams has asked the White House for help with the cost of housing and resettling those migrants. He’s right: Those costs should be covered by the federal government rather than borne by taxpayers in New York City or anywhere in the United States where members of this high-need population reside. Hopefully, the government can help Cathy Hochul make the case for Mr. Adams.

It is good fiscal policy to cut New York City’s nation-state-sized budget. How Mr. Adams values ​​those cuts.

Author: Yuvi

My name is Yuvi, I work as Sub Editor at newscinema.in

20 May, 2023, 7:34 am

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