City Hall, NY – Today, Speaker Adrienne Adams delivered opening remarks at the Council’s Committee on Finance hearing to examine the Mayor’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 Preliminary Budget. Today’s hearing is the first of the Council’s series of FY 24 Preliminary Budget hearings, where respective Committees will analyze agency budgets and receive testimony from agency leadership, as well as the public. In her remarks, the Speaker addressed the importance of protecting the City’s ability to provide essential services that support New Yorkers. Speaker Adams reiterated that while the City may face economic challenges and uncertainty, withholding investments undermines the health, safety, and well-being of New York City’s communities.

Below are the Speaker’s full remarks as prepared for delivery:

Good morning and thank you to Chair Brannan for holding the first budget hearing of the Fiscal 2024 budget cycle. I also want to welcome Director Jacques Jiha to today’s budget hearing.

We are here today to examine the Mayor’s $102.7 billion Fiscal 2024 Preliminary Budget. The Preliminary Budget for Fiscal 2024 is $1.7 billion less than what was presented in the November Financial Plan.

The Preliminary Budget is balanced by closing a projected $2.89 billion gap in Fiscal Year 2024 with $1.46 billion in additional resources from FY 2023, along with increased revenues in FY 2024 of $738 million and $690 million in expense savings. While the increased revenues are promising, a key component of the Administration’s approach gives reason for concern. As part of the Preliminary Budget, the Administration directed certain agencies to eliminate half of their vacant positions; this has yielded a 4,300-person reduction in the City’s budgeted workforce beginning in the current fiscal year. These reductions call into question the City’s ability to provide essential services that support New Yorkers, to say nothing of the goals laid out by the Administration in housing, economic opportunity, and public safety.

The fact that these cuts are not distributed evenly only magnifies this concern. Prior to the November Financial Plan, the Council held hearings that found acute vacancies in agencies such as the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and other City agencies most aligned with the needs of New Yorkers. This is especially concerning as we work to address crises in affordable housing and mental health. Considering that other agencies with significantly more resources were permitted to not meet their required PEG targets, the Administration must take a sharper look at where public resources can be reallocated. What a larger agency may dismiss as a minor amount could fund the continuation of essential services at a smaller agency elsewhere. This harms New Yorkers who depend on these services to feed their families and remain in their homes.

The COVID-19 pandemic spotlighted the wide and persisting inequities in our city; as we move forward, we cannot underfund and understaff the very agencies that have connected New Yorkers with the essential services and organizations that have helped them withstand this crisis.

The health, safety and well-being of our city, our communities, and our economy are all bound to how well we support essential human services. Whether it is our 3-K and early childhood education programs, CUNY, or our public libraries, these fundamental services must be prioritized as bedrocks of achieving healthier and safer communities. We may face economic challenges and uncertainty, but we want our city to come out stronger and not be undermined by withholding investment in what is proven to help our city and New Yorkers.

Director Jiha, I hope to hear from you today about this budget, and how you believe it helps us plan for a brighter future for our city.

Thank you, and I will now turn it back over to Chair Brannan for the remainder of his remarks.