After weeks of negotiation with Mayor Adams, the New York City Council voted on the Fiscal Year 2024 budget on Friday, June 30th. The day before, council members were informed of where money would be allocated - what services would be funded, whose jobs would be funded, and which people would be considered when deciding what to do with the resources available.

What’s in the budget?

Despite the 2024 city budget being the largest in city history, at $106.7B, the distribution of these funds is a slap in the face for the millions of New Yorkers who have kids in public school, are CUNY students, are being priced out of our homes, receive SNAP benefits, and depend of city services. In other words, all New Yorkers. To put it simply: this budget is bad!

Adams’s proposed budget slashes over $2.3 billion from our city’s ESSENTIAL services, including but not limited to childcare services, City University of New York (CUNY), the departments of education, aging, housing services, mental health & hygiene, transportation, youth development, parks, the human rights commission, and more.

Where did that money go? The mayor spent over $2 billion on a historic raise for his buddies in the NYPD, and is projected to spend an additional $1.85 billion on policing in 2024. Mayor Adams is taking resources from schools and human services and funneling it to the NYPD (which costs the city a staggering $29 million per day). He cut $17 million from Rikers Island re-entry, job-training and support programs while at the same time letting jails purchase $90,000 worth of submachine guns.

Mayor Adams claims to care about public safety yet chooses to invest the bulk of our taxpayer dollars in systems of policing and incarceration – which fail and endanger our communities – and divest from the services that actually keep us safe and thriving.

How did we get here?

For months, JFREJ members and our fellow New Yorkers have canvassed, flyered, door-knocked, and rallied for #CareNotCuts, and our organizing did have an impact: In addition to slashing social services and public education, Mayor Adams also tried to make devastating cuts to NYC's public library system. By organizing a sustained mass public outcry, New Yorkers stopped him from defunding our beloved public libraries. All restored funding and reduced cuts are the result of New Yorkers' organizing, (including organizing by many inside the City Council), not the mayor's benevolence, and we’re not going to let anyone forget that.

The entire budget process and its result are unjust. For this reason, Jews For Racial & Economic Justice called on council members to vote no on Mayor Adams' budget. A no vote takes real courage; council members who vote 'no' risk retaliation, like losing funding for their districts. Just like the mayor has forced this budget on New Yorkers, he’s forced council members into a corner like tiles on a board he controls. The real, long-term work is to flip the board over entirely; Regardless of how council members vote, our ultimate goal is to build a powerful mass movement against Eric Adams.

What happens now?

We celebrate the council members who courageously voted no on this cruel and reckless budget, and to all those who fought to claw back funding for our communities along the way. We will continue to focus our organizing energy against and ire on the person truly responsible for taking essential programs away from New Yorkers: Mayor Adams. There is still a long road ahead; the richest city in the world must do more to ensure everyone who lives here has what we need to thrive.

Finally: Thank you, JFREJ community…

…for all you have done in the past months to win New Yorkers the best possible outcome in this impossibly unjust budget cycle. Mayor Adams threatened major cuts across the board early in the budget process. That means we all were forced to spend a lot of our organizing energy fighting to claw back funding for essential programs.

We sent nearly 5,000 emails to the mayor and council members demanding a people’s budget with #CareNotCuts. On top of that, JFREJ members dispatched across this city, canvassing and phone-banking, leveraging your creativity, anger, and love in action for NYC. The noise we made did make a difference. We secured 11 progressive 'No' votes in opposition to the mayor's budget, up from six votes last year. Our organizing also led to some tangible changes in the budget – libraries were on the chopping block, but we won back their funding and prevented weekend closures! Most importantly, this action inspires hope that, one day, we will win the budget and city we deserve.