NEW YORK (AP) – New York City lawmakers are debating the high-stakes city budget as activists are demanding a $ 1 billion shift from police work to social services and the city is struggling to lose billions of dollars because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The city council met on Tuesday, with a midnight deadline to adopt a budget ahead of the fiscal year beginning Wednesday.
It comes with protesters who camped outside City Hall and insisted that the city cut $ 1 billion from the budget of the New York City police during a nationwide campaign to ‘defuse the police’ – a move caused by outrage at the death of George Floyd and other black Americans at the hands of the police.
Protesters want money to be moved from police work to community and social programs because the shift promotes racial justice and curbs a police force that activists say has been overpowered.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Tuesday that he and the town’s leaders had agreed to a $ 1 billion deal. The cuts would result from dropping the next recruiting class of nearly 1,200 new officers, cutting overtime, rearranging officers from administrative functions to maintain the patrol, and shifting responsibility for border guards and a homeless emergency the police to other city services.
Instead, money would be spent on education, social services in communities severely affected by the virus, and summer programming for more than 100,000 youth.
Most of the cuts are made on the NYPD’s capital budget, including canceling plans to build a new police station in Jamaica, Queens and use the money instead to build a community center nearby . The city also plans to transfer part of the police capital to install broadband internet in public housing complexes.
“We are responding to that call for justice. I think our mission is to redistribute resources to those who need them most, “said the Democratic Mayor. “This is real redistribution.”
However, activists have said they will not accept any plan that just leaves money lying around without what they see as meaningful changes.
“No funny math. No budget seats, ”relatives of more than a dozen people killed by NYPD officers said in a letter to the mayor and city council on Tuesday. “We will know if you have fought for our communities or continue to treat the NYPD as if they were above the law, even on budget.”
The NYPD budget is now about $ 6 billion, plus a few billion dollars more in shared city spending such as pensions.
The discussion comes when the city struggles with what the Blasio has attributed to a loss of revenue of $ 9 billion because of the corona virus.
The city budget was nearly $ 93 billion in June.
Associated Press writer Michael R. Sisak contributed to this report.
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