New York has seen an influx of migrants so overwhelming that city officials are facing a crisis point. It has already spent well over a billion dollars this fiscal year on food, housing, medical, and other services and expects to fork out another $11 billion in 2024 and 2025. Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat who historically espoused nothing but solidarity with illegal migrants, has claimed this crisis could “destroy” the Big Apple. To find ways to pay for the formerly welcomed “sanctuary” seekers into the city, Adams announced a series of sweeping cuts that threaten to do irreparable harm to the belabored New Yorkers he represents.
The Not-So-Essential Essential Programs
The new budget – set at $110.5 billion – will see cuts across several agencies and departments. This represents a 5% cut and is the first of three rounds Adams claims are needed to support the tens of thousands of illegal immigrants and asylum seekers flooding the city. He is expected to expand the cuts to 15% by Spring. Mayor Adams said, “In all my time in government, this is probably one of the most painful exercises I’ve gone through,” and that “It’s going to impact every area of delivery of services in the city.”
The New York Police Department will freeze hiring, bringing law enforcement below 30,000 officers by the end of fiscal year 2025. “This is truly a disaster for every New Yorker who cares about safe streets,” said police union president Patrick Hendry. “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.”
Adams said that eliminating a new class of 250 school safety personnel means parents need to step up, adding that the way to combat the loss would be “leaning into parents and parent groups to do some volunteerism.” He added, “We are going to be straining at a very high level to get this done correctly.”
Another hard-hit department is education. After-school and summer programs, as well as extra-curricular activities, are being reduced, and the Department of Education will see more than $1 billion reduction in its budget through fiscal year 2025. That breaks down to $547 million this fiscal year and $600 million next year. “In addition to making cuts to the Summer Rising summer program for middle school students and eliminating thousands of spots for universal prekindergarten for 3-year-olds, community schools are being cut by $10 million in the current fiscal year,” The New York Times summarised.
Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, noted that 653 schools would have to make midyear budget cuts, which is about 43% of the school system. “Class sizes will rise, and school communities will be needlessly damaged,” he warned.
Libraries have been hit too and warn that they will have to close facilities on Sundays because of the cuts. In a statement from the leaders of the Brooklyn, Queens, and New York Public Library, a spokesperson complained that “Without sufficient funding, we cannot sustain our current levels of service, and any further cuts to the libraries’ budget will, unfortunately, result in deeper service impacts.”
With the homeless issue compounded by thousands of migrants, Adams has also cut the Sanitation Department by nearly $100 million over the next two fiscal years. This goes against his initiative to address the rat problem in the city and climate change concerns. For citizens, it means fewer public trash cans and dirtier streets and parks… and that’s just the start.
New York Cuts That Run Deeper
Not many seem enthused about these cuts. Progressive Democrats argue this move will hurt working-class families. Lincoln Restler, a chair of the City Council’s progressive caucus, criticized the cuts, saying that his group will not cooperate with them:
“Mayor Adams’s unnecessary, dangerous and draconian budget cuts will only worsen New York’s affordability crisis and delay our city’s economic recovery by cutting funding for the schools, child care, food assistance and more that help New Yorkers live and raise families in this city.”
Adrienne Adams, a speaker for the city council, said, “The administration’s response in providing services for asylum seekers has relied far too much on expensive emergency contracts with for-profit companies that cost the city billions of dollars.” Think the leasing of hotels.
Firefighters have not escaped unscathed either. Fire sources told the New York Post that the decision to cut out personnel who are out on “long-term light duties” – such as if they have been injured on the job or are out sick.
Leaders of the Working Families Party said the lawmaker was blaming migrants for the cuts when the blame should be laid on his shoulders. “Mayor Adams is pursuing an agenda of death by a thousand cuts,” the group said. “As any teacher, librarian, or health care worker will tell you: There’s nothing left to cut.”