NYC Mayor Halts Final Round of Budget Cuts After Slashing Illegal Immigrant Spending

Mayor Eric Adams said his city’s budget is stabilizing, making the third wave of budget cuts unnecessary.
NYC Mayor Halts Final Round of Budget Cuts After Slashing Illegal Immigrant Spending
New York Mayor Eric Adams speaks during his weekly press conference at New York City Hall on Nov. 14, 2023. (Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images)
Bill Pan

New York City will be slashing hundreds of millions of dollars in projected spending on caring for illegal immigrants, a move that helps the city roll back an expansive budget cut for public services, New York Mayor Eric Adams said on Feb. 21.

Under a plan first unveiled by the Adams administration in the fall of 2023, all city agencies would have to shave 15 percent off their budgets in three rounds of cutbacks by this April—to offset an estimated $10 billion cost generated by providing shelter, food, medical care, and legal services for the new arrivals.

After two rounds of 5 percent budget cuts to all but the most essential services such as police and sanitation, the city is now spared of a potentially punishing third round, Mr. Adams said, thanks to “better-than-expected” tax revenue growth in 2023 that resulted in a more positive fiscal outlook, as well as extra cuts to the city’s planned spending on illegal immigrants.

Specifically, the Big Apple is going to cut an additional 10 percent in tax-funded illegal immigrant costs on top of the 20 percent reduction that Mr. Adams ordered last year.

“If we had to do the third rounds, it will impact garbage pickup, it will impact our services to our older adults, it will impact libraries, you will impact a series of services that you will actually see the difference,” the Democrat mayor said in an interview on WABC-TV. “We’re not going to have to do those third rounds, that third round of cuts to our agencies.”

In addition to the restored funding, the city is moving away from a hiring freeze that only allowed agencies to hire for certain positions on a “two out, one in” basis.

Still, Mr. Adams said the city is “not yet out of the woods” and continued his call for state and federal assistance to handle the spiraling illegal immigration crisis. Since the spring of 2022, New York City has provided shelter and care for more than 178,600 illegal immigrants, and approximately 65,000 are still in the city’s care.

“We still need Albany and Washington, D.C. to play their roles in providing New Yorkers with additional support,” he said in a statement.

Over the past months, the Adams administration had slowly restored a handful of budget items that were put on the chopping block, ranging from $10 million in funding for community schools and $80 million to maintain a highly popular summer program for children in grades K–8, to the last police academy class of 2023 that would add some 600 recruits for the New York Police Department, to funding for a fifth firefighter at each of 20 of the city’s engine companies.

Calling off the planned budget cuts might help Mr. Adams resolve his ongoing legal dispute with the public school teachers’ union, a powerful voting bloc that played an important role in his election two years ago.

The United Federation of Teachers (UFT), which represents more than 110,000 public school employees across the five boroughs, sued the mayor last December over the roughly $560 million in school budget cuts, claiming that the state law that gives him control of city schools prohibits him from tempering with school funding when local revenues are up.

With the $10 million for community schools restored and $80 million put back into the summer program, the UFT argued that Mr. Adams still wasn’t doing enough, criticizing him for going ahead with the other budget cuts to the city’s many other programs and services, such as the universal pre-K and 3-K programs, special education, and computer science classes.

“The mayor is trying to make it look like he’s doing the right thing,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew told union delegates last week. “Truth is, we shouldn’t even be discussing budget cuts. There is no need. So we’re not stopping our lawsuit.”