NEW YORK – Mayor Bill de Blasio agreed to cut $ 1 billion from the New York police budget, he said Monday.
Amid protests over the death of George Floyd, activists and City Council members have been demanding a $ 1 billion cut to the approximately $ 6 billion police department budget. POLITICO first reported Sunday night that the mayor’s office had agreed to a list of cuts established by the City Council. Initially, de Blasio resisted the push, but confirmed at a press conference Monday that he sent a proposal to the council that included the $ 1 billion in savings.
“I am excited to say that we have a plan that can achieve real reform, that can achieve real redistribution and, at the same time, ensure that we keep our city safe,” the mayor told reporters.
The deal involves moving school security officers, who are unarmed but wearing police uniforms, to the Department of Education, canceling a July class of approximately 1,100 police recruits and moving certain outreach operations for homeless people out of police control.
Under the law, the city’s budget must be approved by midnight Tuesday.
De Blasio declined to discuss most of the details of the cuts he agreed to, but confirmed that it would include a change for school security officers, which will take place over several years.
In addition to the $ 1 billion cut in operating expenses, there will be a more than $ 500 million cut to the NYPD capital budget, and the money will be used to build youth recreation centers and for public housing developments, De Blasio said.
“Everything was focused on security, so we can guarantee the patrol force we need. We can ensure that school safety can do its job. The school safety problem would be addressed for several years, ”said de Blasio.
“At first I was skeptical and wanted to see how it could all come together,” de Blasio said. “A lot of painstaking work was done to figure out the right way to do things.”
Critics are already voicing objections to the impending deal.
“Mayor de Blasio and speaker [Corey] Johnson is using fun math and budgeting tricks to try to trick New Yorkers into thinking they plan to meet the movement’s demands for at least $ 1B in direct cuts, “said Anthonine Pierre, spokesperson for the United Nations Police Reform Commission, who called for a total freeze on the hiring of NYPD officers. “This is a lie.”
The budget is expected to total $ 87 billion, below the mayor’s proposal of $ 95.3 billion in January. The economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic has cost the city more than $ 7.4 billion in tax revenue.
De Blasio said he was “disappointed” that the state Senate has so far refused to give the city permission to borrow up to $ 5 billion to help close the gaps. The Assembly, he said, has been more receptive to the idea.
Without a federal bailout, a lending authority, or a labor savings deal by October 1, the mayor says the city will have to fire 22,000 workers.
“This is not the 1970s. I have not received a consistent answer as to why it is simply not the right thing to do,” de Blasio said of the loan plan. “Austerity is never the way to go.”
Mike Murphy, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, said De Blasio has not addressed the “legitimate concerns of our senators.”
“We are not against a loan plan that makes sense, but we remain concerned that the mayor started asking for $ 7 billion, then reduced his request to $ 5 billion, all to close a gap of $ 1.6 billion. “he said in a statement on Monday. “Prudence requires developing a plan that doesn’t rush before action is really necessary, especially when the possibility of additional federal aid remains unresolved.”