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De Blasio and Council, Facing Fiscal Crisis Over Virus, Agree on Budget With Big Cuts

De Blasio and Council, Facing Fiscal Crisis Over Virus, Agree on Budget With Big Cuts

Bowing to political pressure and a bleak fiscal reality that evoked municipal crises of decades past, New York City officials on Monday agreed to an austerity budget that includes drastic cuts to city services and a $1 billion shift of resources out of the New York Police Department.

New York, like the rest of the country, was forced to lock down its economy to limit the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, which has taken 22,000 lives in the city. The shutdown helped control the spread of the virus, but it also created a $9 billion revenue shortfall that will have a sharp impact on New Yorkers’ lives.

Mayor Bill de Blasio had already shrunk estimated spending by $7.4 billion earlier this year, but needed to find another $1 billion in savings before the city’s July 1 budget deadline for the coming fiscal year. The gloomy $87 billion budget is nearly $6 billion less than the one the city approved last year.

At the same time, another budgetary priority emerged from the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, as calls to defund the Police Department grew in New York. That effort came to include Mr. de Blasio’s negotiating partner, the Council speaker, Corey Johnson, who earlier this month embraced activists’ calls to cut $1 billion from the department’s $6 billion operating budget.

The mayor and the City Council agreed on Monday to reach that $1 billion in cuts by, among other things, canceling the planned hiring of 1,163 police officers.

But slightly less than half of the $1 billion in cuts will come from a budgetary sleight of hand: School safety officers, who are currently under the auspices of the Police Department, will be moved to the authority of the Department of Education, according to three Council members familiar with the plan.

Mr. de Blasio still believes the city needs to find $1 billion in labor savings or face 22,000 layoffs, unless the federal government comes through with aid or the state grants the city borrowing authority, according to Mr. de Blasio’s spokeswoman, Freddi Goldstein.

The budget is expected to be passed on Tuesday by the full 51-member City Council, although it is expected to garner more than a dozen “no” votes, split between Council members who oppose cutting police funding at a time when crime is rising and Council members who think the police cuts do not go far enough.

Councilman Ben Kallos, a Democrat who represents the Upper East Side, said he planned to vote no on the budget, in part because he said the police cuts were insufficient.

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