July 1, 2020
In the face of unprecedented challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, New York City passed an $88.2 billion budget on June 30, 2020, made up of $63.7 billion in city funds with the remainder from state and federal sources. Facing a $9 billion loss in tax revenue, the City Council and the Administration negotiated a balanced budget that includes important restorations to youth services, as well as essential funding for COVID-19 related expenses and $800 million in investments to make up for State cost shifts. At the same time, the severity of the budget crisis contributed to a number of significant cuts across important child-serving programs and initiatives.
Among the most important restorations in the Adopted Budget was $115.8 million in summer youth programs for Fiscal Year 2020. This will enable over 100,000 children and youth to be served this summer through COMPASS, SONYC, Beacon and Cornerstone programs as well as the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). The Budget also included a $100 million restoration in Fair Student Funding and the restoration of funding for the Single Shepherd counseling program and social workers. However, the budget process disrupted the City’s youth services sector, resulting in a significant loss of service capacity and layoffs in the workforce. The damage to these programs comes at a time when they are needed more than ever to help parents return to work and help young people through long periods of social isolation, school disruption and to prepare for an uncertain fall.
Though falling short of the reductions in NYPD funding that many advocates championed, the Adopted Budget makes an important first step in redirecting funds from the NYPD to community-based youth and social service programs. Additional functions have been shifted away from the NYPD, such as school crossing guards and homeless engagement. The Administration and the City Council have also indicated their commitment to transferring control of School Safety Agents from the NYPD to the Department of Education but did not do so in the FY21 Adopted Budget. We remain concerned about the role and funding level of School Safety Agents in schools, regardless of the agency supervising them, and urge City leaders to continue working toward an end to the policing of its students. More broadly, the City must commit to a long-term strategy to meaningfully shift resources away from policing and into Black and brown communities.
Given the severe budget strains on New York’s economy, many other important programs and sectors saw reductions in their funding. Hiring freezes have been instituted across most agencies, and City Council initiatives saw an average 15%-20% reduction in funding. Education services saw substantial cuts to community school contracts, central office expenses, and teacher compensation outside school hours. The scope of the budget crisis has left few areas untouched.
The sober reality of this budget underscores the pressing need to seek authority for City borrowing from the State of New York and to secure greater federal stimulus relief. We stand ready to work with the Administration and City Council to secure the resources needed to tackle the inequities exacerbated by COVID-19, and build a better future for our city, its children, families and communities.
Below is an analysis of the Fiscal Year 2021 Adopted Budget. This analysis examines restorations made by the Administration and new cuts and cost shifts in the Adopted Budget, as well as cuts and cost shifts initially proposed in the Executive Budget and included at adoption. Funding of City Council initiatives is also examined. For more detail on what was proposed in the Fiscal Year 2021 Preliminary and Executive Budget, visit our analysis here.