July 1, 2020 By Allie Griffin
The City Council passed the mayor’s executive budget that included deep cuts to the NYPD last night, as protesters cried to “defund the NYPD” outside City Hall.
The council passed the $88.1 billion budget with a 32-to-17 vote around midnight, just before the July 1, 2021 fiscal year began.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and the council faced two challenges when outlining the budget — a projected $9 billion hole due to the coronavirus shutdown and demands from New Yorkers to cut NYPD funding in light of police brutality.
The new budget includes $837 million in cuts and transfers from the NYPD, which total $1 billion when associated costs are included, according to the city council.
Of the $837 million, $484 million will be cut, in part, by reducing overtime and cancelling 1,163 new recruits.
An additional $354 million will be shifted to other agencies to perform duties traditionally assigned to the NYPD. This includes transferring the department’s school safety functions to the Department of Education.
The budget has been criticized on both sides of the political spectrum. Some leaders say that cutting the NYPD budget puts the public at risk, while others have said the cuts are not enough and are just smoke and mirrors.
The latter argue that shifting money from the NYPD to other agencies — like the transfer of school safety agents from the NYPD to the DOE — is not a true cut to the police budget.
Still, the majority of Queens council members voted to adopt the budget last night.
Council Members Adrienne Adams, Daniel Dromm, Barry Grodenchik, Peter Koo, Karen Koslowitz, Rory Lancman, I. Daneek Miller, Francisco Moya and Paul Vallone all voted yes.
$8b budget hole mayor tried closing on youth backs. I’m voting to rightsize NYPD for 2020 & transform school safety/homeless outreach; save services for alt incarceration, housing, hunger, health, immigrants, seniors, DV; prevent layoffs; keep youth & education funding whole, but
— (((Rory Lancman))) (@RoryLancman) June 30, 2020
Five Queens council members, however, voted against the budget.
Council Members Robert Holden, Eric Ulrich, Donovan Richards, Antonio Reynoso and Jimmy Van Bramer all voted it down.
Holden criticized the decision to cut police funding during his “no” vote.
“As one of very few Council members who has lived through several crime waves in our great city, I am very concerned that the protest-driven movement to defund the NYPD will lead us toward another high-crime era,” Holden said.
I cannot vote in favor of a budget with such large arbitrary cuts to the NYPD that will make our city less safe, our police officers less respected, and our middle class less supported. pic.twitter.com/gZrIprnZ5w
— Robert Holden (@BobHoldenNYC) July 1, 2020
Ulrich didn’t elaborate on his vote, but is registered with the Republican party, which is against cutting NYPD funding.
Richards, Van Bramer and Reynoso voted against the budget for the opposite reason. They said the NYPD cuts were not enough–and were not real cuts.
Van Bramer said the budget failed to meet the moment and praised the protesters for demanding more.
— Jason Rosenberg (@mynameisjro) July 1, 2020
“We didn’t do enough. We didn’t get to where we needed to get to,” he said during the hearing. “We failed in too many important ways to fundamentally change the ways this city is policed.”
Council Member Costa Constantinides was the only member absent from the budget vote. He said on Twitter that he went to the hospital for COVID-19 complications after having trouble breathing. He first contracted the virus in March.
“This was the first time I missed a budget vote,” he wrote. “While I was not able to make a stand last night, I am committed to using whatever time I have left in the Council to fight for a scaled-down police department.”