Mayor Eric Adams Proposes Boost to Police and Jail Spending in Nearly $100B Budget
Bolstered by higher than expected revenues, the mayor’s city spending plan adds money for a gun crime unit, correction officers, affordable housing, child care and more, while watchdogs urge more savings.
Mayor Eric Adams on Tuesday unveiled a proposed $99.7 billion budget for the next fiscal year — tapping higher than expected tax revenues to make new commitments on spending on everything from youth programs to improvements for parks even as economic uncertainties loom.
He’ll face a City Council demanding more social services spending — with Speaker Adrienne Adams declaring: “the stakes are high for our communities and for all New Yorkers.”
Committing to $1.2 billion more than his preliminary budget released in February, Adams proposes more than 500 additional correction officers and a dedicated gun crime unit for the medical examiner’s office to speed up DNA analysis, among other law enforcement investments.
He allocated funding for 1,400 safe-haven beds for unhoused New Yorkers who need additional services, and also pledged to add $5 billion in capital spending for affordable housing over the next decade.
Benefiting from more than $2 billion in higher than expected tax revenues, Adams’ executive budget commits more than three quarters to new spending — while putting aside only a quarter to pay for new union contracts for city workers or shore up public coffers against the next economic downturn.
“This budget puts people, especially those who have often been left behind, front and center,” Adams said at the Kings Theatre, where he combined his budget release with a celebration of his first 100 days in office, in lieu of an inauguration ceremony that had been canceled during a COVID surge. “Success will be measured by how much we accomplish — not how much we spend.”
In all, the budget proposes $182 million in new funding for the police department — which would bring the total in fiscal 2023 to $5.6 billion. The bulk of the added funding is pegged to raises for detectives, the mayor’s new anti-gun units and for additional overtime, City Hall officials said.
Adams also proposed allocating $55 million to expand a program intended to send social workers instead of police in response to mental health emergencies — which would reach into central Brooklyn, eastern Queens and the South Bronx.
The initiative started as a pilot program in Harlem last year — but saw police still responding to the vast majority of mental health emergencies — and expanded this year to precincts in Northern Manhattan and the South Bronx.
The proposed budget also attempts to at least partially fill some holes left by receding pandemic aid from the federal government. An additional $30 million for emergency food deliveries to pantries would put total funding for the coming fiscal year at $52.5 million.
That’s still short of the $73.5 million that’s being spent this year alone through a federally funded program that provides fresh fruit and vegetables to pantries, but that’s being eliminated come June 30.
Adams, who said he discovered he was dyslexic only late into his academic career, also announced $7.4 million in added funding for dyslexia screenings and literacy programs over the next three fiscal years.
And he proposed an initiative that will decrease the cost of subsidized child care programs — so that a family of four earning $55,000 a year would pay $10 a week, down from $55.
One major unknown is the ultimate cost of settling expired or soon-to-expire municipal labor contracts, whose costs will run into the billions. Under Adams’ plan, about a quarter of the bolstered tax revenue would go into a $1.7 billion reserve for pay hikes.
Budget watchers say that by the time the current fiscal year ends on June 30, the city is likely to reap even more money from higher tax collections than expected — $750 million, according to state comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. City Comptroller Brad Lander says the money will have to go into the labor reserve.
A 3% raise for all city workers, in line with that won by workers in residential buildings earlier this month, would cost $3 billion a year.
The administration added $200 million to its reserves, bringing the total to $6.3 billion. It’s the highest dollar total in history, but as a percentage of the budget is less than at other times the city has been flush with cash.
Lander called for a much higher increase in the city’s reserves — and a reconsideration of criminal justice spending, especially in light of scathing reports from a court-appointed jails monitor.
“Some of the investments are responsible. The investment in shelters, parks, transportation are good solid investments,” said Lander. “But a 500-person headcount increase at Corrections with no plans for the reforms that are necessary from reading the reports or visiting Rikers is not.”
Adams said at a press conference that the corrections officers are needed to staff punitive segregation units, operating in nine separate housing areas in the city’s jails.
On Monday, City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams (D-Queens) and other Council members released their response to the proposed budget, calling for more social-services funding. The Council will negotiate the budget with the mayor’s office between now and the end of June.
“New Yorkers want to be safe in their communities and want their families and neighbors to be healthy,” Speaker Adams said at a press conference.
“This is the most important budget for our city in a very, very long time.”
Councilmember Justin Brannan (D-Brooklyn), who is the finance chair, said the city was expected to fully recover economically from COVID in 2025 – but there was still revenue coming into the city that needed spending.
“The response that we put forward is responsible and calls for more money invested in the rainy day fund — but also says look, there’s extra money there, we need to spend it, now is the time to double down on these investments,” he said.