Every year, the Progressive Caucus works to ensure a fair budget that maintains a commitment to strong core City services while supporting programs that protect the most vulnerable. At a time when the Trump administration threatens the most basic rights and beliefs of many of our residents, an equitable and fair budget that strengthens core City services and protects the most vulnerable is that much more important in order to resist the bigotry and divestment from public assistance occurring at the national level.
With our values and the threats to our city from the national level in mind, Caucus members identified the Caucus’ FY18 budget priorities, using our eleven-point ADVANCEMENT framework to outline our policy and budgetary goals for this legislative term. Due to the critical partnership and leadership of Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Finance Committee Chairwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, many of these priorities and other investments were advocated to be baselined in the Council Response to the Mayor’s Preliminary Budget.
The Council’s Budget Response to the Mayor reflected the following budget items prioritized by the Progressive Caucus for the FY18 Budget Cycle:
Anti-Eviction Legal Services: support for access to free legal services including counseling and/or full legal representation for tenants facing eviction in Housing Court.
Universal Youth Jobs: additional funding for slots in the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) to baseline and grow the program, and more funding to providers to increase support for the development of NYC youth.
Increase for Human Service Contracts: increased support for an across-the-board increase in funding for human services to right-size contracts going forward for nonprofit human services providers that deliver a vast range of essential services, including foster care case management, meal programs for seniors, home care for the developmentally-disabled, and much more.
NYCHA Repairs: robust investments in NYCHA repairs to improve housing, health, and safety for public housing residents.
Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities: additional funding for DFTA’s operations of NORCs for seniors living in areas populated by large numbers of New Yorkers over the age of 60, require particular access to health, transportation and medical services.
Universal Free School Lunch: eliminate lunch fees at all public schools to increase participation and ensure all students eat a healthy lunch in school
Citi Bike Citywide: additional funding for Citi Bike to expand to the five boroughs so that is accessible to all New Yorkers.
Emergency Food Assistance Program: increase funding to meet the basic needs of all food pantries and soup kitchens in the EFAP network across the City, and provide food relief for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers.
Human Rights Commission: fully support the expansion of the Commission on Human Rights’ Law Enforcement Bureau to allow for a quicker investigation and processing of complaints of discrimination, harassment and bias-based profiling in a timely and efficient manner.
Fair Fares: provide funding for half price MetroCards pilot program for those New Yorkers living at or below the poverty level, or about $24,000 for a family of four.
Vision Zero: investments to support education and outreach for Vision Zero and help increase public awareness of the City’s initiative to prevent pedestrian fatalities and increase street safety.
Expand the Office of Labor Policy and Standards: additional funding to contract with local CBO’s to increase financial inclusion, hire additional staff members, have sufficient resources for upcoming legislation, can create public awareness of the division’s work, for IT & Communication costs and for the building of a repository to capture data from all OLS’ work
Crisis Management System (Anti-Gun Violence Initiative): increased funding to expand anti-gun violence initiatives and CMS to high need neighborhoods.
New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP): funds to support the defense of the City’s immigrant families in deportation proceedings.
Citywide Civil Legal Services: support for direct client representation, including representation in class action cases; the provision of legal advice; community legal education presentations; pro-bono/volunteer lawyer programs; and hotline and other telephone-based legal services.
Adult Literacy: funding to provide programming for basic literacy, English for Speakers of Other Languages, and Graduate Equivalent Degree classes for adults who cannot read, write, and speak English, along with support services such as counseling and case management.
Parks Maintenance: increased funding baselined for the well-being of the City’s precious green spaces, especially in low-and moderate-income neighborhoods.
As we enter City Council’s Executive Budget hearings, we hope to continue work to ensure adequate funding for Caucus priorities above.