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Budget cutbacks continue to pinch New York City

The mayor announces new measures to address the immigration crisis in the financial capital

New York City Mayor Eric Adams speaks at a rally for asylum seekers
New York City Mayor Eric Adams speaks at a rally for asylum seekersJEENAH MOON ( New York Times / C

New York City is considered the financial capital of the world and is reputed to have the highest concentration of billionaires per square foot. Just take a look at Billionaires’ Row, the strip of luxury residential skyscrapers overlooking Central Park. However, the city is facing financial challenges caused by the arrival of over 120,000 migrants since spring 2022. To put pressure on Washington, border state governors have resorted to shipping out migrants on buses to other states, and many ended up in New York City. As a result, the city has spent over $2 billion on housing and food for the newcomers, and estimates it will spend more than $12 billion over the next three fiscal years.

Mayor Eric Adams is a somewhat eccentric leader who imposed a Friday vegan menu in public schools because he says veganism saved his life. He also celebrated his admission to a secretive Masonic lodge surrounded by photographers. Mayor Adams just ordered his administration to figure out how each city department and agency can cut their respective budgets by 15% over three years. It’s not an unreasonable request given the financial strain of the immigration crisis, but this is the fourth time Mayor Adams has called for budget cutbacks since taking office in January 2022. Most municipal departments have already made 4% reductions and now he’s asking them to crop another 5% from their budgets for the next three years.

A 1981 law known as the Callahan doctrine requires the city to offer shelter to those in need, regardless of nationality. In response to the ongoing migration crisis, the city established over 200 emergency centers in the past 18 months. However, these were quickly overwhelmed, and Adams makes frequent pleas for help from the federal government. “While our compassion is limitless, our resources are not.”

Convenient scapegoats

New York City Comptroller Brad Lander warned the mayor that the city needs a viable long-term plan, in addition to help from the federal and state governments. “While our office will review the proposed cuts, one thing is clear — scapegoating asylum seekers will not improve education, public safety, housing affordability, or quality of life for New Yorkers.”

Lander touched upon all the major issues facing the city of millionaires. Beyond the urgent migration crisis, there is insufficient public housing, a struggling transportation system, and unpopular toll projects aimed at generating revenue and alleviating traffic congestion. School programs have been gutted or canceled, and the budget of the city’s excellent public library system has been raided. Overall social spending has been cut, negatively affecting residents trying to cope with the exorbitant cost of living in the city. For example, child care costs have soared since 2017, with working-class families paying at least $2,000 a month. This has forced thousands of parents to leave work to care for their children.

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