MANHATTAN — New York City lawmakers were set to vote Tuesday on a high-stakes budget as activists demand a $1 billion shift from policing to social services and the city grapples with multibillion-dollar losses because of the coronavirus pandemic.
So with protesters standing their ground outside New York City Hall, the City Council began deliberations toward an expected yes vote on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposed budget. De Blasio said he and City Council leaders had agreed on a budget that includes a $1 billion shift away from the New York Police Department, which has a nearly $6 billion budget.
Activists have been wary, saying they fear the city is just moving money around rather than really cutting emphasis on policing. They’ve pressed council members to vote no if the spending plan doesn’t make meaningful changes.
Councilmember Vanessa Gibson expressed disappointment with the budget.
“It falls far short of much more that we wanted to accomplish,” Gibson said. “Given the horrific financial climate, no money from Albany, no money from the federal government, a loss of revenue, the thousands of New Yorkers who have died from COVID-19, we had to make tough decisions that I know many are not happy about.”
Here’s what we know about the proposed budget and the redirection of that $1 billion from the NYPD:
- It calls for a cancellation of the NYPD’s July class of new cadets, which is expected to lead to net reduction of more than a thousand officers.
- The NYPD is also cutting back on its homeless outreach efforts.
- The NYPD school safety officer program is being shifted back to the Department of Education.
- There is skepticism about this point. Critics argued the DOE was already sending hundreds of millions of dollars to the NYPD for the school safety officers and is now simply going to run the program it already pays for.
Councilmembers Joe Borelli and Ben Kallos, representing parts of Staten Island and Manhattan respectively, both agreed it was not a good budget.
“This is not one of those moment to be shouting from the mountain tops of how great a budget it is,” Borelli said.
Kallos said he anticipates protests.
“To be frank, when the people of the City of New York see this budget, they’re going to be out on the streets,” he said.
While there are deep cuts to a myriad of city services, the money taken from the NYPD will likely pay for:
- $115 million for summer youth programming
- $116 million for education
- $134 million for family and social services
- $450 million will go to the Parks Department and the Housing Authority for youth and recreation centers.