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Education takes a hit in New York City’s record $101B budget

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(The Center Square) – New York City has a decrease in education funding for the coming fiscal year in its record $101 billion budget.

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The new year begins July 1; the City Council gave approval late Monday evening.

In a statement before the vote, Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, Education Committee Chairwoman Rita Joseph and Oversight and Investigations Chairwoman Gale Brewer cited the exhaustion of the one-time federal stimulus as why the city reverted to its previous funding formula.

That formula considers an enrollment decline of 120,000 that has occurred over the past five years.

“While schools with increased enrollment received proposed school budgets with funding increases due to the formula, other schools received lower proposed budgets without the stop-gap of federal funding that could lead to the loss of important services,” the three council leaders, all Democrats, said. “Our focus must be on equity, ensuring schools and students who have historically been underserved are prioritized.”

Adams, Joseph and Brewer added that the city has already identified more than $700 million in local money to cover the funding gap from last year. However, that still leaves about a $215 million hole for the city’s public schools.

Councilmember Chi Ossé tweeted Tuesday morning that he voted against the budget because of increased funding for the city’s police department. Still, the education cuts also played a role in his decision.

“Not to mention, it’s really (expletive) hard to vote on a budget that cuts budgets for our public schools,” the Brooklyn Democrat tweeted. “Yesterday, I had principals calling me telling me that they had teachers crying because of a $1 million dollar cut their school was getting. I can’t live with that.”

The Council approved the budget by a 44-6 vote.

NYPD will receive more than $5.5 billion in funding for the upcoming fiscal year, with council leaders saying the minimal increase was due to “non-discretionary commitments from existing labor agreements.”

The budget also includes setting aside $500 million in reserve for the upcoming fiscal year and $200 million in the following three years. That will give city leaders a $1.2 billion buffer to shield against budget cuts.

The city also added $750 million to its rainy day fund, boosting that reserve to $1.95 billion.

Mayor Eric Adams, no relation to the council speaker, hailed the plan as a “get stuff done budget” that his office and the council were able to finalize more than two weeks before the start of the fiscal year.

“We were able to achieve an early adopted budget because we leaned into areas of agreement, rather than disagreement,” Mayor Adams said in a statement Tuesday. “With upstream investments to promote public safety, give young people real opportunity, support our human and legal services providers, offer relief for working families, improve our public spaces, boost affordable housing, combat food insecurity, and so much more, this budget promotes an equitable recovery for New Yorkers throughout the five boroughs.”

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