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Op-Ed: The Budget Vote Was Not an Easy One, Nor One That I Took Lightly

Council Member Julie Won

June 15, 2022 Op-Ed By Councilmember Julie Won

As I read the agenda for the budget vote for Fiscal Year 2023, I sat in my seat in the chambers of City Hall surrounded by portraits and inscriptions of men. I thought of my predecessors who sat in my seat before me and how surreal it was that I, too, will vote on a budget on behalf of New York City – the largest municipality of our country.

Only 23 years ago, my family and I arrived at JFK and I learned to read and write English in our public schools and public libraries. 23 years later, my parents still have limited English proficiency. As I waited for my turn to vote, I thought of my newborn at home with my mom– my mom who arrived on U.S. soil with dreams of one day becoming a nurse, but never got the chance.

With the dreams of so many people resting heavy on my heart, I voted “Yes” to the FY’23 budget. As Council Member, I promised to advocate for the needs of those who may not even dream of stepping foot in City Hall.

Knowing that the budget was going to pass with an overwhelming majority, I could not allow for funding to be stripped from my district – the very people I was elected to fight for.

As the first immigrant and woman to represent district 26, I fought to secure $20M investment for adult literacy programs, $13.5M for language access, $11.2M to provide additional support for English Language Learners in our schools, and $10M for childcare for undocumented children.

After four long years of advocacy from those who came before me, I was able to introduce the Language Access bill which creates a worker led co-op for culturally competent translation services for our city as well as $5M in funding to ensure its execution.

That night, we made history by establishing the first Language Access Co-Op in the entire country.

I was also able to secure funding for the Tibetan Community Center of Woodside, the largest Tibetan nonprofit in the city for the first time ever – breaking barriers that kept them out from receiving council funding in the past.

The vote on our city’s budget is not neatly confined by multiple votes for each issue area – but a single vote for the budget in its entirety.

This meant a “No” vote on the budget would mean a vote against allotted funding for the hard fought historical funding for immigrants, much needed human services cost of living adjustments, aid to balance out federal funding cuts to education, youth and senior care, restoration to prior year cuts to sanitation and parks, housing and rental assistance, and so much more which shape our day-to-day lives.

We must remember the fiscal year is not defined by one vote in a single evening, but by a year-long process of post-adoption work through processes of oversight. Our budget, like our lives in this city, is fluid – the budget at its adoption will not look the same a year from now post-adoption.

We, as the council, have the power to make necessary changes. I believe that taken as a whole, the FY ‘23 budget provides funding for the most vulnerable New Yorkers, and tens of thousands of my neighbors in district 26. Countless New Yorkers rely on services and programs such as medical and mental health services, career services, housing assistance, and much more which this budget accounts for.

In Western Queens, we have seen the rising need for investment in our schools, parks, and community

To ensure that every family has access to safe, well-designed parks, I secured $6.6M to repair the Lawrence Virgilio Playground, and $5.3M for Murray Playground, including $1.2M for the Murray Playground Dog Run.

During my first few months as Council Member, I visited nearly every school in our district, from elementary school through community college– all to determine what our students, teachers, and parents needed from the city.

As their advocate, I fought to fund millions of dollars worth of upgrades to schools’ libraries, cafeterias, technology, and much, much more. With federal funding for our public schools running low, and with enrollment in NYC public schools dropping, the Department of Education’s budget has decreased based on each school’s enrollment rate by law.

In light of this reality, my colleagues and I secured an additional $89M for our schools from the council, as well as funding summer employment and other enrichment programs. For our local schools specifically, I’ve committed 70% of my own office’s entire capital budget to make sure our district’s students are provided the best education experience possible.

In addition to these enhancements, I was able to guarantee $3M in additional funding for our very own Laguardia Community College. Another pillar of our neighborhoods is the community-based organizations and nonprofits who provide invaluable services from community-led public safety, child care, to senior programming. As such, I was able to secure more than $1,287,000 to ensure that our community organizations can continue to serve our neighborhoods with more to be added through initiatives designated post adoption.

This budget vote was not an easy one nor one that I took lightly.

My team and I spent days in budget briefings, evenings reading through reports, and months fighting for as many of the priorities for our city to the best of our abilities. Change in this 300+ year old system won’t happen overnight, but together – if we continue to push and support one another, we will year after year become a city that we dream of.

Thank you again for your support and patience because without you, I would never have even dreamt of voting for a historical budget funding childcare for undocumented children, language access for children and adults, and the first of a kind Unit of Appropriations for transparency and accountability in NYPD overtime spending.

As always, my doors are open to you. Please reach out to continue the conversation so that this new fiscal year is one of transparency and input from each and everyone of us.

District 26 Funding Secured by Council Member Won:

Capital Funding-$5,000,000:
● Schools – $3,500,000 (70.00% of member discretionary capital budget)
○ How we made decisions: The Council Member and her team visited schools in the district
during her first quarter in office. During our visits Council Member Won asked school
leaders to highlight any capital/infrastructure needs our office should be aware of and
could advocate for. In February each school was asked to submit requests for capital
funding.The Council Member awarded 6 schools with funds for projects with a cost
of $100,000 or higher for large-scale projects.
■ PS 150 – $500,000 for much needed auditorium repairs
■ PS 112 Dutch Kills – $400,000 for the process of installing central air
conditioning in their cafeteria
■ PS 343 – Children’s Lab School – $300,000 for a movable gym wall so that
students and staff can make the best use of their space
■ PS199 – $300,000 for library upgrades. This funding will support the creation
of a full functioning library with a media center.
■ Q277 The Riverview School – $100,000 in funding for the completion of
bathroom upgrades such as new sinks, toilets, wall tiles, floor tiles, and
washroom accessories.
■ PS 111 will receive $300,000 to fund technology upgrades in their classrooms
and laptops for students.
■ PS 11 will also receive $100,000 to fund technology upgrades.
■ In line with Council Member Won’s priorities of closing the gap in digital
literacy, the Council Member awarded 22 schools with $75,000 awards to
fund technology upgrades. (a $25,000 increase from technology awards in
past years). These funds can be used by schools for the purchase of technology
and equipment.
● PS 12
● P.S. 339 – The Woodside Community School
● PS291 Hunters Point Middle School
● P993
● I.S. 125
● PS/IS 78
● P.S. 152 Gwendoline N. Alleyne School
● PS 11
● I.S 204
● P.S 166
● P.S. 76
● John F. Kennedy Jr. School
● P.S. Q004
● P.S. Q993
● The Riverview School – P.S. 199
● The Riverview School – Energy Tech
● The Riverview School – P.S./I.S. 78
● The Riverview School – Hunters Point
● District 30 3k/Pre-K Centers
● Newcomers High School
● William Cullen Bryant High School
○ $500,000 (10.00% of member discretionary capital budget)
● Great Streets Vision Zero – Queens Boulevard
● Parks
○ $1,000,000 (20.00% of member discretionary capital budget)
● Lawrence Virgilio Playground Repairs
Speaker Funding-$12,900,000:
● Aviation High School – $5,000,000
● Laguardia Community College – $3,000,000
● Lawrence Virgilio Playground Repairs – $5,600,000
● Murray Playground – $4,100,000
● Murray Playground Dog Run – $1,200,000
● CUNY Laguardia Community College – $3,000,000
Queens Delegation
○ $50,000 – Sunnyside Community Services Center for Senior Services and Programming,
the highest amount awarded by the Queens Delegation.
● Speaker – secured $577,000 in funding for programs and services for our district.
○ Community Capacity Development – $100,000
■ Funds will support the expansion of the Community Liaison Department which is
deployed to all 5 Boroughs sponsoring events and supporting local Anti Gun
Violence initiatives and community outreach initiatives.
○ Catholic Migration Services, Inc. – $75,000
■ Funding to reach out to low-income New Yorkers, particularly immigrants, and
provide civil legal services.
○ Sunnyside Community Services – Cornerstone Community Center – $50,000
■ Funding will support programming at Cornerstone Community Center located
within the NYCHA Woodside Houses through after-school programs for
elementary and middle school students and drop-in activities for adolescents
through adults.
○ Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence – $50,000
■ Funding to support the expansion of programming including building a new
client base and supporting membership organizers.
○ Adhikaar for Human Rights and Social Justice – $35,000
■ Provide outreach and education to Nepali-speaking community members,
including domestic workers, by connecting to resources and services.
Programming includes adult literacy, COVID-19 community response, and
immigration casework support.
○ New York Irish Center – $145,000
■ Along with the Irish Caucus
■ To provide senior programming via communal meals, entertainment, learning,
creative activities, guidance, engagement and monitoring.
○ New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE) – $50,000
■ Funding will enable NICE to provide wraparound services for immigrant workers
and their families who need support and are at high risk of workplace abuse and
○ Mixteca – $100,000
■ Funding will support mental health services, legal, immigration services, and
English learning classes
○ Woodside on the Move – $22,000
■ To support the Cornerstone Community Center at Woodside Houses,
pre-kindergarten program, and after-school program for students.
Citywide funding secured by Council Member Won:
-$700M+ increase in city funding for public schools
-$14 million to restore Community Schools funding and add funding to support new schools
-$11.2 million to provide additional support to English Language Learners.
-$277M for Summer Rising academic enrichment
-$79M for a record 100,000 Summer Youth Employment slots
-$60M for Cost of Living Adjustments funding for human services / nonprofits
-$20M Adult literacy for English learners
-$13.5M Language Access
-$237M for CityFHEPS Voucher Increase for rental assistance
-$90M for working and middle-class homeowners property tax rebate
-$22M for expanded litter basket pickup to keep our streets clean, with many more restorations of parks
and sanitation funding
-$5.1M for Community-led Public Safety and Victim Services

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Please keep the bike lanes on 39th ave. It’s a huge improvement and was never meant to be a loud busy bypass for Northrern blvd. The people complaining are entitled car owners sitting on million dollar and up real estate.


Don’t speak for others who have lived in the neighborhood for many, many years. “Bike Blvd” was installed without any real discussion or input from those who “entitled” property owners; how absolutely arrogant of you! The benefit is almost non-existent for tax payers who live in the neighborhood and has emboldened cyclist who do not obey traffic laws, ride on sidewalks and exhibit a general disregard for the entire neighborhood.


Love how that she somehow managed to insert her identitarian talking points into this context free “op-Ed”


Ms. Won please engage ALL of your constituency. You fail to recognize the backbone of the community, people who have lived and worked their whole lives in Sunnyside and made it a place of inclusion and a great place to raise a family. Your bike lanes have divided the community and were installed without any input – talk about misspent funds!!! The garbage in the area has increased and the crime is out of control. It’s unfortunate that I feel like a second class citizen in a neighborhood where I grew up and raised a family. Be a representative for ALL!


Any funding allocated to restore 39th Ave to what it was and undo the divide it created between the two ends of the block? Id like to be able to get home without first having to pass my street only to then turn around. No one even acknowledges the bogus pylons on 50th and proceed in the direction they wish to logically travel. Its someones’ full time union job now to reassemble the daily crushing of said plastic bollards.


I agree with “anon” the butcher job they did on 39th Ave is a sample of city misused funds and without really allowing the community to have a real say it def was an agenda pushed through with no regard to the residents of many years. I am sure this issue will go unanswered and I probably just wasted my time posting it here.


Any funding allocated to restore 39th Ave back to what it was and undo the divide it created between to two ends of the block? Id like to be able to get home without having to first go past it and then turn around. No one even acknowledges the bogus pylons on 50th and proceed in the direction they wish to logically go. Its someones full time union job now to reassemble the daily crushing of said plastic bollards.

Appreciate the Councilmember

“This budget vote was not an easy one nor one that I took lightly.”

I truly appreciate your honesty and transparency. Budgets are not meant to be easy; budgets are an expression of priorities. Unlike your fellow councilmember from Astoria, you recognize that a “perfect” budget doesn’t exist. I am glad you represent me – not necessarily because your priorities represent mine, but you believe and seem to understand what governing is all about. Good job on your first budget!


Now if she could focus on truly affordable housing and homeless shelters in Sunnyside. Our friends and neighbors are struggling to get by. I just found out that a neighbor of mine is being evicted and she has nowhere to go. It’s sad. People are finding it hard to pay bills and put food on the table. We are in need of shelter food and Health assistance. It seems like we are all paying back for quadruple the stimulus money that we received during the pandemic. And the pandemic is not over with. Dr. Fauci just tested positive for covid even though he has been vaccinated 4 times. How is the working class supposed to take time off due to covid if they are not getting paid to take time off cuz of illness. We need help. Tax the rich now.


Not sure if AOC approves and accepts her apology. Most of us are struggling with rising inflation and gas prices.


Imagine how hard it must be for those who work in Republican Right to work states

Gullible Republicans believe in myths fairytales and conspiracy theories

Barbara – If rising gas prices and inflation are a struggle for you and your friends then you’re obviously living above your means. Bring it back down to reality or get a better job and your life won’t be such a struggle.

you still dont get it

& not one mention of reducing crime or improvement on safe clean streets, graffiti prevention & on & on for quality of life because everything you secured in the Tax payer budget is meaningless if people dont feel safe to move about.


Of course. This isn’t rocket science like the politicians like to pretend. The problem is a political agenda that is using crime as a wedge issue to obtain votes.


I think Caban and the other real progressives who voted no stood by their beliefs and ground. Tired of phoney liberals and progressives that joined a progressive platform to just get elected in WQ. Its like when Trump joined the Republican party just to get elected.


Reminds me of when AOC voted present on the Iron Dome instead of no like the rest of her friends and then cried about it.

Gardens Watcher

Cabán voting NO on the budget is like AOC voting NO on the infrastructure bill. Both are stuck on NO and not voting in the interests of their constituents.

Julie Won did the right thing by voting FOR the budget. You have nothing to apologize for, Councilmember.


Nonsense and completely dishonest woke talking points. There’s nothing to “fix”. Plenty of opportunities and help in the US if someone doesn’t want to engage in criminality.


■ I am afraid of the speaker
■ I voted for the cops I pledged to defund
■ I voted for a giant school budget cut
■ Here are some programs that amount to a small fraction of that school budget cut
■ BONUS: YOU get a Brent O’Leary Ad. YOU get a Brent O’Leary Ad. YOU get a Brent O’Leary Ad.


There are countries and cities that run on less than this budget, i wonder, always wonder, how mismanaging of these funds happens,. The problem is never the money is always how the money gets managed. I see at the school across from us, weird activity of things coming in during the day, and things being brought out of the school at 3 am….who will keep accountable the recipients? I see that community organizations are getting less money than a dog run….i mean the whole neighborhood is a doggie run, only if the owners would clean after their dogs…


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