Albany, NY – Today, New York City Council Speaker Adrienne E. Adams delivered testimony at the New York State Joint Legislative Public Hearing on the Executive Budget for State Fiscal Year 2024, focused on state support for affordable housing, NYCHA, Pre-K and 3-K early childhood programs, education, physical and mental healthcare, and services for asylum seekers.
The Speaker’s complete submitted testimony is available here.
Below are the Speaker’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Good afternoon Chair Krueger, Chair Weinstein, Ranking Minority Members O’Mara and Ra, and all members of the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means Committees.
“I am New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams. Thank you for providing me with the opportunity to discuss the Governor’s Executive Budget for State Fiscal Year 2024, and its potential impact on New York City. I would also like to thank Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Heastie.
“For too long, New York City has been overly relied upon to balance state budgets. Whether elimination of our Aid and Incentive to Municipalities allocation over a decade ago that now provides localities outside of the City over $700 million, or the diversion of $200 million in City revenues to fund hospitals in other parts of the state, New York City has absorbed inequitable treatment.
“Last year, we began to shift this dynamic to reflect a new era of collaboration between the State and City – a path we must continue.
“The City’s economic outlook is uncertain due to a slower pandemic recovery than other parts of the country. Federal COVID relief funding has enabled the City to avoid the most difficult fiscal decisions, but its expiration has quickly approached.
“The Governor’s Executive Budget includes some welcome investments and policies, yet we also have concerns. While the net impact of changes in the Governor’s budget increases support for the City’s financial plan in our current fiscal year, it would cost the City nearly $1 billion annually in the subsequent two fiscal years.
“When these budgetary actions are coupled with our increasing costs related to the arrival of more people seeking asylum, our fiscal health is severely impacted.
“The City appreciates the attention to help us provide shelter for asylum seekers that is sorely needed. Yet, the announced $1 billion in funding for shelter services for asylum seekers within the Executive Budget only reflects reimbursement up to that level, for 29 cents on every dollar. Maximizing access to these funds would require expanding the list of eligible reimbursable expenses beyond emergency housing to include the diverse services we are providing to support asylum seekers.
“On housing, the Executive Budget includes several policies intended to increase housing production in our city and around the state. This includes legislation we support to eliminate required floor to area ratio that has restricted housing development, authorize legalization of basement apartments, and expand conversion of commercial buildings to housing.
“The Council has prioritized developing and preserving more deeply affordable housing. To be successful, more state funding will be required than is currently in the Executive Budget.
“This should include funding for NYCHA, the City’s largest landlord that has been chronically underfunded, resulting in hazardous conditions for residents. State funding for NYCHA is currently absent in the Executive Budget, but is critical.
“We also support the proposed housing voucher program to help people facing homelessness, and efforts to expand supportive housing development as critical health and safety investments.
“I must also note the need for increased city-state efforts to preserve and expand homeownership. Affordable homeownership is one of the best avenues to grow community stability and wealth that helps curb New York City’s significant Black population decline by increasing housing opportunities.
“We do have concerns about some of the details related to local zoning changes and overrides in the Governor’s budget that could undermine the ability to negotiate more affordable housing and community benefits. We look forward to continued conversations on these issues.
“On education, the proposed $600 million increase in overall school aid to the City – largely the result of fully funding Foundation Aid – is a critical step forward. While federal COVID stimulus funding aided students’ educational recovery from the pandemic’s effects, these temporary funds are disappearing and make it imperative to enhance education funding. Our school system’s enrollment declines have presented budget challenges, creating concerns about the proposal to allow new charter schools in New York City.
“As our city has experienced, investments in Pre-K yield large dividends for our children and families. While the Executive Budget includes funding to expand Pre-K around the state, New York City is not guaranteed access to these funds. We would hope that our foresight on early childhood education through 3-K and Pre-K is rewarded with needed state support.
“Our public higher education institutions are pivotal vehicles of opportunity. The $94 million increase in recurring operating funds and over $600 million in capital investment into CUNY are welcomed. Yet, we look forward to partnering with you to expand these proposals to meet the system’s five-year plan and budget request, moving investments closer to a New Deal for CUNY that avoids tuition increases.
“I am encouraged by parts of the Governor’s budget related to healthcare, even as concerns about the proposal to stop providing local governments with the federal funding enhancements to cover Medicaid costs remain. We urge the State Legislature to more closely examine the proposal so localities avoid significant funding losses.
“Given the mental health crisis we face in the pandemic’s aftermath, the Governor’s foundation of mental health investments is exciting. I look forward to partnering with you and the Governor to advance a comprehensive set of evidence-based mental health solutions.
“We also see opportunities to invest in proven safety solutions that prevent crime before it occurs to make us safer, including intervention programs, crime victim and trauma recovery services, pre-trial and recidivism-reduction programs, and funding for public defenders and DAs.
“Lastly, New Yorkers rely on mass transit, and the City has been proud to fund the MTA with $1.3 billion annually. The Executive Budget includes proposals to strengthen the MTA, but others transfer major costs of supporting the system to the City. Shifting fiscal responsibility for paratransit access, student MetroCards, and Payroll Mobility Tax payments are estimated to cost the City $526 million in FY24.
“Now is an inopportune moment to shift financial responsibility for mass transit, given our other additional obligations and economic uncertainties.
“At the center of our considerations are the working families and New Yorkers who comprise the backbone of our city and state. We look forward to working with you, our partners in the State Legislature, to enact a budget that equitably supports our city and state.
“Thank you for your consideration and time.”