Mayor Adams, NYC Council announce deal on $112.4B budget after months of sharp debate

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After months of bitter negotiations, Mayor Adams and City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams announced Friday that they’ve agreed in principle to a $112.4 billion spending plan, which adds about $1 billion to the $111.6 billion budget draft the mayor unveiled in April.

Of all the cuts the mayor proposed months earlier, almost all of them were rolled back, capping off a budget dance that left many long-time political watchers scratching their heads over both his fiscal reasoning and political calculus.

Perhaps most notably, the city’s public library systems will have their budgets fully restored, reversing $58 million in cuts and enabling them to resume seven-day-a-week service after some of the mayor’s funding reductions forced them to eliminate Sunday service at dozens of their branches.

The city’s fiscal plan, which is legally required to be finalized by June 30, is expected to get a final City Council vote on Sunday, just hours before the deadline.

As part of the budget deal, the city will allocate an additional $2 billion in spending on affordable and public housing, a development first reported in the Daily News.

The budget will also restore $20 million to early childhood programs and includes provisions to more rationally fund the city’s pre-K and 3-K initiatives moving forward. Lawmakers agreed to form a working group to address the distribution of seats across the city, though details were not immediately known.

“This body of public servants should be so proud,” Mayor Adams said Friday of the Council members gathered in the City Hall rotunda. “In spite of everything else, we’re going to put the people of this city first.”

While ultimately pleased with the outcome Friday, advocates across several different areas — including libraries, early childhood education and affordable housing — have argued cuts the mayor both enacted and proposed hurt many working- and middle-class New Yorkers just a year ahead of his 2025 re-election run.

On Friday, many of those advocates reserved their praise for the City Council and continued to criticize the mayor for refusing to roll back his cuts for so long.

“From day one, Mayor Adams has made life harder for working families by cutting essential services, from 3-K to libraries to affordable housing,” Ana María Archila and Jasmine Gripper, co-directors of the Working Families Party, said in a statement. “Today’s budget agreement is a testament to the Council’s determination to fight on behalf of working families and protect them from the harmful decisions of this administration.”

WFP is widely expected to back a progressive challenger to Adams next year.

During the mayor’s remarks, a model airplane stood atop the podium — a reference to his assurance that he would “land the plane” on time and within the proscribed legal boundaries, a metaphor the Council speaker openly mocked in the lead-up to their agreement.

Before she spoke Friday, someone darted in front of the podium to remove the plane, but the Council speaker struck a conciliatory tone with her fellow Dem.

“Well, Eric, we have taxied to the gate. We are ready to deplane, and the Council did not have to go on autopilot,” she said. “We understand the multitude of challenges that our communities and constituents face, the services they rely on and what they need from city government.”

In the weeks prior to the agreement, the speaker, who is not related to the mayor, stepped up the Council’s campaign to restore the cuts, holding rallies for several days before Friday’s ceremonial handshake.

And while those efforts appear to have yielded results, many continued to criticize the mayor, even after the restoration were announced.

“While the administration made modest inroads in funding chronically underbudgeted items and maintaining stimulus-funded programs, the financial plan continues the longstanding tradition of underfunding known expenses, underestimating fiscal gaps and clouding the city’s financial picture,” said Comptroller Brad Lander, a possible 2025 mayoral candidate.

Since last year, Mayor Adams argued his proposed and enacted cuts were necessary to offset the city’s heavy spending on housing and caring for newly-arrived migrants. He has also pointed to tax revenue projections produced by his office that showed less optimistic fiscal pictures than ones conducted by the Council’s economists.

However, the mayor’s office has had to adjust its revenue forecasts multiple times to make them more closely align with the Council’s. The Council, by contrast, has pointed to its projections in maintaining that most of the mayor’s cuts were never necessary in the first place, including the library spending reductions that forced branches to eliminate Sunday service late last year.

When asked by The News on Friday whether he now agrees the library cuts were unnecessary, the mayor demurred, saying he had to pursue some fiscal restraint as a precaution amid the migrant crisis.

“I don’t live my life in the rearview mirror, I live it through one front windshield,” he said. “We made decisions based on the uncertainties that we were facing. Remember during that time, we were getting sometimes 4,000 migrants and asylum seekers per week.

“If we didn’t put in place real initiatives to bring down the numbers, we would be having a different conversation right now,” he added.

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