By Katie Honan
Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Council on Tuesday
approved an $88.19 billion budget for the coming fiscal year that
drastically cuts city spending while shifting nearly $1 billion in
funding from the New York Police Department to youth and social
The approval came in a late-night vote by the council after
weeks of negotiations framed by an economic crisis brought on by
the new coronavirus pandemic and mounting calls for defunding and
reforming the police department. The mayor's preliminary budget,
proposed in February before the pandemic, was $95.3 billion.
Of the 50 current members of the council, 17 voted against the
budget. Some of the members said the reductions to police funding
weren't significant. Others said they opposed major funding
reductions to the NYPD.
Council Speaker Corey Johnson, a Democrat who was one of the
most influential members in the negotiation process, voted in favor
of the budget but said he had wanted more cuts to the police
"To everyone who is disappointed we did not go deeper, I am
disappointed as well," he said. Mr. de Blasio wouldn't budge on
some of the larger cuts, he said.
A spokeswoman for the mayor said Mr. de Blasio "worked to find
cuts that allowed us to reinvest in youth and communities in need
while keeping our streets safe."
Under the budget, overtime for NYPD personnel is expected to
decrease and an upcoming class of more than 1,100 police academy
cadets will be canceled. About $500 million will be taken out of
the NYPD's capital budget and allocated toward summer youth
programming, education, recreation centers and broadband
infrastructure at the city's public-housing developments.
A homeless engagement unit and school crossing guards, which are
currently under the NYPD, will join other agencies, Mr. de Blasio
said. The budget also outlines a plan to move school-safety agents
out of the police department and into the Department of Education
over two years.
In all, nearly $1 billion in funds will be transferred out of
the police department. The NYPD's annual operating budget will drop
to about $5 billion from nearly $6 billion.
"This is real redistribution," the mayor, a Democrat, said at a
Some elected officials said the shifts in funds didn't go far
enough. Although the city is in a hiring freeze, there will still
be a police academy class in October, the elected officials said.
The mayor also said proposed cuts to police overtime might not be
possible if protests or other events that require a large police
presence continue to happen.
Councilman Ben Kallos, a Democrat who represents neighborhoods
in Manhattan, voted against the budget and said he wanted more
meaningful cuts to the police department. He also criticized the
negotiations process as opaque.
Antonio Reynoso, a Democratic councilman who represents parts of
Brooklyn and Queens, also voted against the budget.
"Divestment in policing, a restructuring of our justice system,
and meaningful investment in our communities is what New Yorkers
have been demanding and it is our duty as elected representatives
to deliver on those demands," he said as he voted.
Other council members said they wouldn't vote in favor of a
budget that makes significant cuts to the police.
Councilman Joseph Borelli, a Republican who represents parts of
Staten Island, voted against the budget, saying reducing the NYPD's
funds would make the city unsafe.
"We know what we're doing and we know that what we're doing will
create a more violent city, and yet we're doing it anyway," he
The NYPD didn't immediately respond to a request for
The mayor and the council faced increased pressure to cut the
NYPD's funding after weeks of large-scale demonstrations across the
U.S. over the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, in police
custody in Minneapolis on May 25. For more than a week, protesters
have camped outside City Hall in lower Manhattan to push for large
cuts to the police department.
Mr. de Blasio said that the budget focuses on programs to assist
New Yorkers who have been struggling during the financial crisis
and "helps us to become a fairer city." But the budget deal cuts
some initiatives that helped residents, including $65 million from
Fair Fares, a program that offers half-price MetroCards to
low-income New Yorkers.
The budget includes $1 billion in labor savings that are still
being negotiated with unions, Mr. de Blasio said. Officials have
said the city still faces billions in lost tax revenue over the
next two years. If the city doesn't receive more help, it could
resort to up to 22,000 layoffs and furloughs in the fall, according
to the mayor.
The mayor has said he still hopes the city will receive federal
stimulus money. He had also urged state lawmakers to grant the city
the authority to borrow up to $5 billion, but his request went
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday that he still wasn't eager to
authorize city officials to borrow money to close gaps in the
operating budget. The Democratic governor had been skeptical of
earlier requests by City Hall, which landed with a thud in the
"I don't want to have a de facto bankruptcy where the state's
going to have to come in and bail out the debt," Mr. Cuomo said on
NY1, adding that the timeline for the city's economic recovery is
uncertain. "I focus on the paying back, as do most taxpayers."
Jimmy Vielkind contributed to this article.
Write to Katie Honan at Katie.Honan@wsj.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
July 01, 2020 00:50 ET (04:50 GMT)
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