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 priority investments, using our eleven-point policy framework to outline our policy and budgetary goals for this legislative term. Due to the critical partnership and leadership of Speaker Corey Johnson and Finance Committee Chairperson Daniel Dromm, many of these priorities and other priority investments were advocated for in the Council Response to the Mayor’s Preliminary Budget.
The Council’s Budget Response to the Mayor reflected many of the budget items prioritized by the Progressive Caucus for the FY19 Budget Cycle, including:
NYCHA Repairs: Invest in NYCHA repairs to improve housing, health, and safety for public housing residents.
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.
Universal Free Lunch for Seniors: Investment in Universal Free Lunch for Seniors to provide free lunch to eligible seniors aged 60 and older.
Fair Fares: Provide funding for half-price MetroCards pilot program for those New Yorkers living at or below the poverty level.
Emergency Food Assistance Program (EFAP): 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.
Combating Opioids: Allocate funding to lead prevention and treatment efforts around opioid abuse.
School’s Out New York City (SONYC): Fund the Summer SONYC program to ensure the safety and growth potential of children in New York City.
Citywide Citizenship Fund: Include funding in the budget for a citywide citizenship fund to reduce barriers to citizenship for NYC residents who require citizenship application assistance.
Citywide Census 2020: Allocate funds to educate the public about the importance of the census and to assist applicants with navigating the complexities of the process.
Construction Safety Training for All: Investment in ensuring construction safety training is available to all New Yorkers regardless of their background, legal status and gender by hiring new trainers and building the capacity for all construction workers and supervisors to fulfill OSHA requirements.
As we enter City Council’s Executive Budget hearings, we hope to continue work to ensure adequate funding for Caucus priorities above.