City Hall – Today, Speaker Adrienne Adams delivered opening remarks at the Council’s Committee on Finance hearing to examine the Mayor’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2025 Preliminary Budget. Today’s hearing is the first of the Council’s series of FY 2025 Preliminary Budget hearings, where respective Committees will analyze agency budgets and receive testimony from agency leadership and the public.

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

Good morning. I’m New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams. Thank you to Chair Brannan for leading this first budget hearing of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2025 budget cycle and thank you to everyone for joining us today. I also want to welcome Budget Director Jiha.

Today, we will examine the January Financial Plan that includes the Mayor’s $109.4 billion Fiscal 2025 Preliminary Budget. The Preliminary Budget is balanced after closing the previously projected $7.1 billion gap from the November Financial Plan and covering additional spending in fiscal years 2024 and 2025 through updated revenue projections and expense changes. These include increased tax revenues, assumed state funding for asylum seeker response services, and re-estimates and reductions to agency and asylum seeker services spending.

This latest plan provides OMB’s first in-depth update to its tax revenue forecast since the April 2023 Financial Plan. It catches up with previous projections by the Council and other forecasters to be more consistent with the increased revenues our city can expect to receive. Yet, the Council’s just-released economic and tax revenue forecast projects even greater revenues for the city, with $3.3 billion more expected for fiscal years 2024 and 2025, and more in the outyears. This would result in a surplus for these two fiscal years, and more manageable gaps in the outyears. There will also be in-year reserves available that must be utilized within the same fiscal year.

The Mayor’s Preliminary Budget contains a number of omissions and risks that are critical to address in the Executive Budget, which these additional revenues can help facilitate. 

There remain key agencies and service areas affected by the Administration’s repeated cuts that are foundational to meeting the needs of New Yorkers. Critical investments to restore and safeguard essential services, and cover anticipated expenses, are missing from the Mayor’s Preliminary Budget, and must be a priority to secure the health of our city and neighborhoods.

Now more than ever, our communities are relying on core services and programs to survive and remain in our city. A recent report by the Robin Hood Foundation and Columbia University found that years of progress have been reversed with the city experiencing an alarming increase in poverty – the largest in a decade. As a result, one in four children and nearly 2 million New Yorkers have been living in poverty.

We know from the rising numbers of people seeking SNAP benefits and cash assistance in our neighborhoods that more and more New Yorkers are finding it increasingly difficult to afford basic necessities, like food and shelter. Yet, the agencies processing benefits and assistance are not able to keep up. The administration needs to prioritize ensuring adequate support in the budget and its management for city agencies to resolve these problems. The city budget must reflect our priorities, and the City has a moral imperative to invest in programs that support our residents who need help.

One of the other key needs of working families who want to live and raise their children in our city is high-quality early childhood education. The lack of affordable options fuels our affordability crisis that is pushing New Yorkers to leave for other localities and states, weakening our school system, tax base and economy. Solidifying and strengthening our city’s 3-K program must be a priority to stem the increases in poverty and hollowing out of the city’s middle class.

The Administration has been cutting funds from 3-K programming rather than fixing its management challenges within DOE that have been destabilizing and left families disconnected. The city budget must advance the promise of a seat for every child who needs it, increasing utilization and returning our city to be a national leader in early childhood education.

The city must ensure its public education system is a priority, from our K-12 schools to our institutions of higher education in CUNY. These are undeniably a key driver of not only the health and safety of our communities, but also our economic success. Our primary and secondary school students, like those across the country, are recovering from historic levels of learning loss as a result of the pandemic. The city budget, along with state and federal budgets, must reflect this reality by ensuring investments in essential programs for our students. Community schools, preschool special education, school mental health services, restorative justice programs, and services for English Language Learners and homeless students are pivotal for the city to support.

CUNY plays a key role in the city’s success, as our strongest engine of economic mobility that unlocks opportunity for working class New Yorkers and communities of color. Its graduates also fuel our city and state economy with their contributions of billions of dollars in tax revenue. CUNY has faced budgetary challenges over the past several years, and we must protect and do right by CUNY to maintain the staffing and support programs students need in seeking their degrees.

The cuts to library services across the city from the administration’s reduction to the city’s funding of neighborhood branches has impacted the lives of New Yorkers across generations. Our libraries are community hubs that offer programs to New Yorkers of all ages in support of their success. Our communities have already felt the impact of losing Sunday service, and it is imperative that our budget funds libraries to reflect their essential roles in our neighborhoods.

Additionally, it is critical that our budget adequately supports New York City’s cultural organizations and sector. They are a crucial part of what makes us a world class city, enriching New Yorkers and play a vital role in our economy by creating opportunities, attracting tourism, and increasing activity for local businesses. The City must not waver in its support of our renowned cultural institutions, and provide the essential funding required to support them.

While it was welcome news that there will not be forthcoming PEGs for the Executive Budget, many key programs are being restored, and the blanket hiring freeze is being partially lifted, there remains significant work ahead to ensure a sound budget that meets the needs of our city.

Above all, the basic goal of any city budget is ensuring our city agencies have the resources needed to deliver essential services to New Yorkers.

With higher-than-expected revenues in this fiscal year and a durable, resilient economy, I believe our city has the flexibility to reverse many cuts that have been made, strengthen our city’s workforce, and address our future fiscal challenges, all while being fiscally responsible.

I look forward to hearing from you, Director Jiha, about the Administration’s FY25 Preliminary Budget and how it aims to support all New Yorkers.

Before closing, I want to thank the Council’s Finance staff for their hard work in preparation for today’s crucial hearing.

Now, I’ll turn it back over to Chair Brannan for his opening remarks.