January 15, 2021
On January 14, 2021, Mayor Bill de Blasio released a $92 billion Preliminary Budget for City Fiscal Year 2022. The City’s Preliminary Budget closes a $5.25 billion budget gap that results from COVID-19 expenses combined with falling tax revenue.
New York City has been at the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Preliminary Budget makes clear that federal stimulus and state budgetary choices must support and not impede the City’s ability to weather this storm and recover. In fact, the Preliminary Budget acknowledges the federal government’s commitment to fully reimburse New York’s COVID-related FEMA expenses, which will provide an additional $1 billion in immediate relief, and makes clear the urgency of securing additional federal stimulus to help address the City’s fiscal strain and heightened needs of New Yorkers. Furthermore, the Preliminary Budget draws attention to the importance of a State Budget that not only advances tax increases but protects against cuts and cost shifts to New York City.
Sadly, with City resources so constrained, the Preliminary Budget advances a very limited number of new investments. For example, positive steps taken in this budget include: $200 million proposed for COVID-19 Test and Trace Corps; $62 million for Learning Bridges; $52 million in emergency Food Relief; $35 million in Social Emotional Learning; $14 million for WIFI in shelters; and $132 million for Summer Youth Employment.
Furthermore, while the City was able to stave off proposed cuts to Fair Student Funding and delays to 3-K expansion, thanks to the recent announcement of FEMA reimbursements, the Preliminary Budget does make a $40 million reduction in school allocations. This proposal places at risk financial support for Community Schools, the Learning to Work Program, and Affinity School networks. In addition, the Preliminary Budget eliminates SONYC summer programming for approximately 24,000 middle school students.
We know the needs of New Yorkers are great and will be long-lasting, extending beyond the City’s next fiscal year. As a result of the pandemic, economic collapse, and persistent race-based injustice, New York City households have been deeply impacted by loss of life, loss of income, increased food and housing insecurity, social isolation and learning loss; and these risk factors have been disproportionately felt in Black and brown communities. There is no mistake that emergency food supports, homelessness prevention and shelter, child care, afterschool and summer programming, and preventive services have all played and will continue to play an essential role in responding to basic and heightened needs of children and families at this time. The frontline human service programs that deliver these critical supports must be protected and invested in, even in the face of budget deficits. And, given the cumulative trauma faced by children and adolescents and their families, the City must build on existing efforts underway to dramatically expand connections to and presence of behavioral health care in schools and early care and education settings.
CCC stands ready to advocate for federal stimulus funding, state tax policy, and to protect against state cost shifts to New York City. As the City Administration and City Council make decisions in the months ahead about the Fiscal Year 2022 budget, we will continue to draw attention to the services and supports children, families and communities require to not simply survive or recover, but to thrive.
# # #