Public Advocate's Statement On The Adoption Of The City's Fy22 Budget

June 30th, 2021

Press Release

"As last year's budget was developed in the early days of the pandemic, this year's was crafted as our city is undergoing the long work of recovery from the public health and economic crisis. Federal aid has been critical to sustaining our city's finances, and the long-term state of those finances depends on foresight, and on what we prioritize.

"Throughout this and past budgets, and on public safety in particular, there was an opportunity to invest in new systems and structures, rather than prop up old ones. Adding funding to the NYPD instead of other, more suited agencies, one year after we appeared on the precipice of transformational change, is an inexplicable example. Additional funding should be going to programs in non-police agencies, such as DYCD or DOHMH. With a $6 billion budget and a headcount of 35,000, the NYPD should be focusing on reallocating and optimizing current resources where they are most helpful, not monopolizing funding which could go to non-police alternatives. And while critics blame the current increase in some crimes on activists' call to defund the police, it is unfortunately necessary to remind them that New York City did not in reality ever defund the police, and that crimes were not caused by a hashtag.

"To be clear, there are many positives in this budget. But we should be doubling down on those positives, rather than retreating to what is easiest when the external pressure of a protest or a primary is over.

Improving healthcare, investing in affordable housing, providing jobs and encouraging economic growth in underserved communities, as well as investing in evidenced based models to address gun violence and mental health crisis, will all help to secure and advance public safety. These investments have a long tail effect, and we can't shy away from them just because their results aren't always immediate, and won't make the papers tomorrow - just as critics of reform don't shy away when their strategy of adding police isn't immediately effective. We cannot repeat and perpetuate the mistakes and patterns of the last decades.

"At a time when we should be re-defining public safety, too much time and money has gone into the systems as previously defined. And while there have been notable changes and programs funded, the biggest disappointment is that this administration's final budget continues eight years of failing to figuratively and literally buy into true structural changes to redefine public safety - a stain which many hoped the last budget would help diminish. When so many millions are allotted in overtime for the NYPD, but none for agencies like the Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene, that stain persists. 

"Recovery from this pandemic will be long, and our investments should match. A budget for the future cannot and should not reflect the mindsets of the past."

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