NY City Council Approves $88 Billion City Budget With Deep Cuts to NYPD, Other Agencies – NBC New York

What to Know

  • New York City officials have agreed on a $88.1 billion proposed budget that includes deep cuts to the police department and other city agencies, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday.
  • The City Council voted to approve the budget later Tuesday
  • According to the mayor, the city cut the budget from its initial $95.3 billion proposal as it struggled to balance funds amid a huge revenue deficit triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

A week after a “defund NYPD” protest became a full-blown occupation outside City Hall, New York City officials have agreed on a $88.1 billion proposed budget that includes deep cuts to the police department and other city agencies, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday.

“We have reached an agreement with City Council,” de Blasio said. “We have worked around the clock.”

The City Council voted to approve the budget later Tuesday. However, there was opposition from both sides to the budget, with some saying the cuts were too much, while others said they did not go far enough.

“This budget is not perfect. It is painful, it is imperfect, and it falls far short of much more that we wanted to accomplish,” said Bronx Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson, who vote in favor of the budget. “But 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.”

According to the mayor, the city cut the budget from its initial $95.3 billion proposal as it struggled to balance funds amid a huge revenue deficit triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Nine billion dollars evaporated in the span of just months,” de Blasio said. “That’s what we had to deal with here and it was a challenge.”

Due to the billions of dollars that were cut in savings, de Blasio said Tuesday that the city will work with labor unions to find ways to make up for those cuts and avoid layoffs come October.

According to de Blasio, the budget focuses on key values: health, safety, food and shelter.

The budget calls for the expansion of NYC Care to Manhattan and Queens ($37.5 million) in an effort to guarantee healthcare in every borough. The budget will also allocate $113 million for specialized COVID-19 clinic for the hardest hit communities in Bushwick, Jackson Heights and Tremont. Additionally, a $450 million effort is also planned for GetFoodNYC to ensure no New Yorker goes hungry, along with more than $33 million to fight food insecurity.

Schools were largely protected from the massive budget cuts, and nearly $116 million was able to be saved for the summer youth employment program. Another $8.6 million went to housing programs.

The $88.1 million budget includes $1 billion in cuts and reduces expenses to the NYPD while maintaining patrol strength and street safety.

Retired black police officers united in Brooklyn to call for reforms within the NYPD. Sarah Wallace reports.

The cuts to policing is expected to go to city youth centers, education and NYC Housing Authority and there could be changes to the department’s role in policing schools, de Blasio previously said.

 “The NYPD did a hell a good job in saying, ’Ok, here’s a bunch of things we could do while still keeping this city safe,” he said. “We need to redistribute revenue to communities that need it the most. We know our young people are hurting.”

The budget also calls for spending reduction by canceling the July class of the NYPD, reducing overtime as well as reducing contracts and non-personnel expenses. Additionally, as part of the overall NYPD reform, certain responsibilities that typically were assigned to the NYPD will now be transferred out by way of crossing guards and the Homeless Engagement Unit.

The budget talks came as hundreds of demonstrators have spent the past week camped out in City Hall Park and demanding police defunding following weeks of protests over the death of George Floyd and other Black Americans killed by law enforcement.

Organizers have called it “Occupy City Hall” — a nod to the 2011 Occupy Wall Street movement a few blocks away in Zuccotti Park.

The New York City Council on Thursday passed a bill requiring the NYPD disclose its secret surveillance technology, which the department said would compromise public safety. NBC New York’s Myles Miller reports.

The group directed its demands — scrawled on colorful placards,
a canvass of graffiti and a massive poster taped over a subway entrance — at de
Blasio and Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

“We’ve done different levels of escalation to make sure we’re
getting their attention,” said Jonathan Lykes, one of the movement’s
organizers. “If they defund the police by $1 billion then we have won — but
that’s only our demand this week.”

The occupation has drawn protesters barely old enough to vote
but also veteran activists like Debbie Williams, of Brooklyn, who described the
movement as unlike any she’s seen.

“People’s eyes are opened now,” said Williams, who slept at the
site Sunday and was cooling off Monday in a furnished area dubbed the “Chill
Zone.”

“We’re seeing change,” she added, “but it’s not enough.”

The idea of slashing the NYPD’s budget, now around $6 billion annually for operations plus several billion dollars more in shared city expenses, like pensions, seemed politically laughable even a year ago. Memories of the Sept. 11 attacks and the high-crime decades of the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s were too fresh.

The state will ban chokeholds and change access to police disciplinary records under broad new measures signed by Gov. Cuomo Friday.

But now, city agencies across the board are dealing with the big cuts due to a huge loss in revenue caused by coronavirus shutdowns. The NYPD has about 36,000 officers. Asked if that number will hold, de Blasio responded: “Whatever we do in terms of headcount has to keep the city safe.”

There were also 1,163 cadets set to become members of the NYPD in July. Now, they will not be joining the department.

Patrick Lynch, head of the Police Benevolent Association union, said that any cuts will lead to fewer cops on the streets amid a spike in shootings that has lasted several weeks.

“We will say it again: the Mayor and the City Council have
surrendered the city to lawlessness. Things won’t improve until New Yorkers
hold them responsible,” Lynch said in written statement.

The City Hall Park occupation was organized by Black and LGBT activists but sought to include input across the ideological spectrum. A makeshift “People’s Library,” assembled under a tent, promotes “radical literature.”

A nearby “bodega” featured free donated food and personal protective equipment to occupiers, many of whom are wearing masks. Speakers announced “de-arrest training” sessions and reinforced the expectation that residents of the space look after one another.

“We want racial injustice to end, and the means is that we stay
here right now in this space,” said Manny, who addressed the crowd but declined
to give his last name. “It’s very clear that people want to stay past Tuesday
and that people want to see police and prison abolition.”

Gatherings of more than 10 people are still banned in New York
City because of the coronavirus, but those rules have been ignored by
protesters for weeks and police have not moved to enforce them.

Lykes said the occupation has made the NYPD “nervous,” recalling
a string of minor confrontations that were resolved without arrests. He
differentiated the peaceful assembly in Lower Manhattan from a weeks-old
occupation in Seattle that has seen episodes of violence.

“We have an uprising and one of the largest we’ve seen since the
death of Martin Luther King,” he said. “These are the worst of times but the
best of times as far as an opportunity to change.”