By Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech
The New York City Council is set to vote on the 2021 budget today which includes slashing the NYPD budget by $1 billion along with a slew of other austerity measures.
The $87 billion dollar budget falls far from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s initial budget proposal of $95.3 billion and was the second budget revision this spring. The cause of the shrinking budget: the novel coronavirus pandemic.
In April, the mayor re-proposed a lower $89.3 billion budget due to the pandemic. He decided to shrink that number once more in late May after announcing that shutdown economy had left New York City in a “$ 9 billion hole,” resulting in a budget $6 billion less than what the city approved last year.
In April, the budget included $2 billion worth of austerity savings, with a sizeable number of cuts hitting the Department of Education. But in May, the de Blasio administration broke the hard news that the city would need to lay off 22,000 municipal workers beginning this fall in order to save the city an extra $ 1 billion.
The budget also includes the cutting and transferring of $1 billion from the NYPD’s $ 6 billion operating budget. A new priority that came during weeks of protests after the death of Minneapolis man George Floyd at the hands of police.
Initially, Mayor de Blasio resisted the idea of shrinking the police department’s budget but ultimately succumbed to political pressure after 10 days of protests in the city that ended in clashes with officers and promised to divert an unspecified amount of funds from the department.
On Monday, de Blasio finally committed to a specific amount and told reporters that he and the City Council were working on a plan that would “achieve $1 billion in savings” for the NYPD. Politico first reported that the plan resembles a plan proposed by the City Council in early June and includes cutting a July NYPD cadet class of 1,100, transferring NYPD school safety agents to the DOE, and ending some homeless outreach efforts.
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams bashed the budget on Tuesday morning and threatened to use the charter to block the city from collecting property taxes if the city does not change its school safety model, discuss policing reform, and enact an NYPD hiring freeze.
“If we are going to be putting hiring freezes than an agency like the NYPD shouldn’t be golden,” Williams told reporters during a Zoom press conference. “We’ve treated the NYPD like they couldn’t be touched for so long that its hard for us to even consider treating them like other agencies.”