New York (June 15, 2022) — In response to the adopted FY2023 New York City budget, Audrey Sasson, Executive Director of Jews For Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ), issued the following statement:

“On Monday night, the City Council voted on the city budget for the 2023 fiscal year. The vote came out of the blue. Speaker Adrienne Adams shared the budget proposal on Friday, and then quickly called for a vote on Monday. Not only did this rushed process barely give Council Members the time to fully review the budget they had to vote on, but it also didn’t give our movements and coalitions the time to align around a strategy amongst ourselves and with our allies in the Council.

The budget includes some substantive progressive wins, but also a lot to be angry about. In the wins column, our members and allies in the NYC Against Hate coalition secured an unprecedented $5 million investment in non-carceral hate violence-prevention programs — one of the key goals of JFREJ’s Freedom To Thrive campaign. Another win: $10 million for childcare for undocumented families, covering the gap left by Gov. Hochul’s state budget, which refused to extend such funding to undocumented families. But as unprecedented as the $5 million investment we won is, it’s not even a fraction of the policing budget. As demanded by Mayor Eric Adams, this budget also includes the largest NYPD budget in city history and effectively cuts funding for public education. It’s the opposite of our demand for schools not jails, and care not cops.

This opaque and unjust budget process denied us the time to unify around a plan. That resulted in a split in how our champions in the City Council voted. Six members took a courageous, principled stance and voted no — for which they were punished by the Speaker, who cut funding for key programs in their districts. Others voted yes to deliver on the key investments that this budget does include, and to ensure that they have the access needed to push the Speaker left on the many issues to come before the council in the future. We appreciate all of our principled and hard-working progressive champions for trying to navigate the situation.

Electing grassroots leaders to office is just one small part of the project. Much more challenging is the work that happens after Election Day: the work of co-governing, building accountable mechanisms to share decision-making power, and pursuing a unified long-term agenda. Building the power we need to win that agenda has always been the goal.

We talk a lot about abolition at JFREJ; it’s what we’re working towards. Abolition isn’t just about getting rid of police and prisons. Also central to the project of abolition is building new structures that guarantee public safety, and are accountable to the people of New York and communities most impacted by our current system. That’s transformative justice. That’s why JFREJ’s focus this budget session was to secure a huge increase in funding for non-carceral, community-based violence prevention programs.

This entire process shows the power we still need to build and elections we must win to ensure a budget that truly reflects our city’s values of thriving pluralism, equity, and care. Our task moving forward is to remain focused on our long-term goal, and to work with, broaden, strengthen, and support the coalition set on achieving it. We have a long way to go, but we’re in this for the long haul.”


Jews For Racial & Economic Justice is the home for Jewish New Yorkers organizing with our neighbors and allies to transform New York from a playground for the wealthy few into a real democracy for all of us, free from all forms of racist violence.