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Transcript: Mayor Eric Adams Delivers Testimony to New York State Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means Committees

February 15, 2023

Mayor Eric Adams: Thank you so much and it's good to be here among my former colleagues. Good morning. And thank you Chairs Krueger and Weinstein; local government chairs, Martinez; city chairs, Sepulveda, May, Braunstein; and members of the Assembly Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committee. I'm Eric Adams, as you indicated, and I'm honored to be here as the 110th mayor of the City of New York. I'm joined by Jacques Jiha, director of our Office of Management and Budget; Sheena Wright, my first deputy mayor; Tiffany Raspberry, my director of intergovernmental affairs and external affairs; and your former colleague, Diane Savino, senior advisor to the chief advisor, and Chief Council Brendan McGuire.

Before discussing the governor's executive budget and my vision for the City of New York, I want to thank you for partnering with me last year to deliver results for the people of New York. Thanks to your leadership, we established the N.Y.C.H.A. Trust, extended our speed camera program, doubled the M.W.B.E. spending threshold for New York City, and provided real relief to New Yorkers through the earned income tax credit and significant child care investment.

Also, want to thank the governor for including many of our essential priorities in the budget, including key components of our shared New York plan. We're extremely pleased with the governor's commitment to funding a new generation of affordable housing. And we know her proposed public safety changes will make New York safer. We also appreciate the support this budget has provided to help us address New York's mental health crisis.

But while the executive budget contains many shared priorities, the cuts and cost shifts significantly outweigh the assistance the state is providing to address the asylum seeker crisis. The impacts of these cuts and cost shifts are most pronounced in three areas: our schools, public transit, and Medicaid. If unaddressed, these cuts would force us to make difficult choices in regard to the city budget and the services that we provide. Governor Hochul and leaders in the Senate and Assembly have been excellent partners to the city in our administration.

My hope and my belief is that we'll be able to sort out our differences and work together to build a budget that works for all New Yorkers. In my state of the city address, I laid out my vision for the city based around four pillars of supportive government: jobs, safety, housing, and care. By including community hiring and increasing the M.W.B.E. small purchase threshold in her budget, the governor's giving us the tools we need to dismantle inequality, while also investing in jobs of the future. But we know that all good jobs are built on a common foundation, a solid education. On that note, I would like to thank the governor for continuing the phase-in of Foundation Aid in her executive budget proposal.

But, if the state raises the chartered cap as proposed, we will need more resources. We believe it will cost us over a billion dollars to cite these schools and cover the required per student tuition, money we do not have.

Last year, the state passed legislation requiring New York City to reduce class sizes without providing additional funding to build schools and hire teachers. The requirements of this new law would cost the city $1.3 billion by year five. We need the state to provide funding to ensure that our children get the education they deserve.

Safety, my second pillar, it's about public safety. I always state it's the prerequisite to our prosperity, public safety and justice. The governor's budget rightfully proposes to keep us safer by giving us additional tools to address our recidivism crisis. Changes to the least restrictive standard as the governor has proposed will go a long way towards solving our recidivism problem. This is critical because the disproportionate share of serious crime in New York City is being driven by a limited number of extreme recidivists. Approximately 2,000 people who commit crime after crime while out on the street on bail must also recognize that our city's district attorneys and public defenders are overwhelmed and need our help immediately.

The state must make a major investment in them now or risk the private defenders of their constitutional rights to a speedy trial, delaying justice for victims, and continue the unprecedented level of attrition within each of these offices.

Our housing thought, which is my third pillar, whether you were born here or came here seeking opportunity, we need you and you need affordable housing. Importantly, the governor has included provisions that will facilitate the conversion of office space into housing, eliminate the floor area ratio cap to allow more housing, implement the J-51 tax incentive to preserve our housing stock and tax incentive programs that drive the construction of new affordable units.

And care, which is important to all of us — my final pillar. National and global trends often converge to create urgent and unforeseen needs in our city, such as the ongoing asylum seeker crisis. We're at the breaking point. Governor Hochul has recognized the magnitude of this crisis and has offered state support for our growing cause.

This is critical because a disproportionate share of the serious issues that are facing us around healthcare is something we must focus on. But with the city expected to spend over $4 billion on this crisis by the middle of next year, we need more than the approximately $1.2 billion in state and federal funds we believe will come our way.

Other areas we want to thank the governor and the lawmakers is to... We appreciate the authorization of additional tools which will allow us to build larger projects faster and smarter while increasing opportunities for M.W.B.E.s on city construction projects. In addition, we are pleased with the inclusion of New York City parking reform, which will allow us to keep our streets clear of industrial built vehicles to the benefits of our families. We also appreciate the inclusion of Waste Reduction and Recycling Infrastructure Act, which will hold manufacturers and big businesses accountable for the waste they produce while driving, while doing business in our city.

And we do need more state assistance. While the governor's budget includes many welcome investments in our city, there are notable cuts and cost shifts that will lead the city with no choice but to take very serious measures in our upcoming city budget. The first of these has to do with the city's M.T.A. contribution. At the outset, we need to highlight what the city government already contributes on an annual basis, $2.4 billion in direct and in-kind contributions, and that's in addition to the majority of the state's tax revenue that New York City residents, workers, and business sent to Albany each year.

This executive budget proposes new contributions from New York City that will cost $526 million in the next school year and more than $540 million every year beyond that. Aside from the increased payroll mobility tax contributions that all localities in the M.T.A. service area must pay, New York City's the only locality that has been asked to increase its contribution, and by hundreds of millions of dollars. We all want what's best for riders, but we need a fair and more sustainable proposal. This current proposal hits New Yorkers twice, once through the higher fares that riders will still face, and once through diminished service delivery by local government, which will have at least half a billion dollars each year going to subsidize a state run authority. Additionally, the governor's financial plan proposed cuts to Medicaid support by keeping 100 percent of enhanced federal medical assistance program funding to localities.

That would be $343 million taken out of our budget beginning in fiscal year '24, which will end a longstanding cost sharing agreement since 2015. This will effectively transfer course from the state to localities undoing one of the most important Medicaid reforms in city history.

Another cost the city is being asked to fund is the court mandated wage increases for 18-B attorneys, which increase from $75 to $158 per hour. Currently, we split it. We believe we need to continue to do so. And finally, a recurring cut enacted a few years ago continues to strain the city's budget. We asked the state to discontinue the sales tax intercept for the distressed hospitals fund. $150 million of city tax revenues are intercepted yearly for this fund. And New York City is the only locality paying. Despite this, not a single dollar goes to H + H hospital.

So, again, I thank you. I look forward to answering your questions.

New York State Assembly Member Helene Weinstein: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Since we began, we've been joined by Assemblyman Conrad, Assemblywoman Jackson, Assemblyman Thiele, the chair of our Local Governments Committee, and we go to... Let me just take the moment to alert people that when you see the yellow light go on — particularly for the legislators — when you see the yellow light go on, that means there's one minute left. And then there'll be when the red light goes on, hopefully everything should be asked and answered. 

So, we go to —

New York State Senator Liz Krueger: I'm sorry, we've also been joined by Senator Martinez.

Assembly Member Weinstein: So, we go to the chair of our Cities Committee, Assemblyman Ed Braunstein for 10 minutes.

New York State Assembly Member Edward C. Braunstein: Thank you, Chair Weinstein, and thank you, Mr. Mayor and your team for coming up and joining us in person today. Before I begin, I just want to say as chair of the Cities Committee, I spend a significant amount of time with your S.L.A. team up here, and it's been always been a pleasure working with them.

Mayor Adams: Thank you.

Assembly Member Braunstein: You mentioned in your testimony that by the middle of next year, the city expects to have spent $4 billion on the asylum seeker crisis, and Governor Hochul has committed funding to assist the city in the state budget. But ultimately immigration is a federal issue and I want to know if you believe it's the federal government's responsibility to help share this burden. And have you had conversations with our federal partners? And can we count on assistance forthcoming?

Mayor Adams: Yeah. Thank you for that. And we believe $1.4 billion during this fiscal year, $2.8 billion next year. That's how we come to the $4 billion. As you know, we have to balance our budget two years out. And, yes, it is the federal government’s responsibility. We believe we need comprehensive immigration reform, but as you know, New York City is the right to shelter state, and oftentimes we have heard that that obligation is not part of the statewide responsibility. And we believe that's not true. We believe this is a statewide responsibility as well as the city and we have fulfilled our responsibility for the last few months. And it has been an unbelievable strain on basic services, and also it is a strain on those who are seeking asylum and migrants who are coming to the city.

We believe due to the majority leader in the Senate, Senator Schumer, and the minority leader in Congress, Congressman Jeffries, we have been able to get the omnibus bill passed with $800 million, but that is going throughout the entire country. We were able to secure $8 million from F.E.M.A., but that is nearly nowhere near the dollar amount that our city is going to impact and cover the entire course of the asylum and migrant seekers.

Assembly Member Braunstein: Okay. Thank you. You mentioned concerns about cost shifts to cover the M.T.A. operating deficit, and I just want to point out that the M.T.A. is expecting a $600 million budget deficit for 2023, $1.2 billion for 2024, $1.6 billion in 2026, and the governor's proposal spreads the burden around for closing that gap. $300 million from a one time state appropriation, $800 million from increasing the payroll mobility tax, a portion of tax revenue from potential downstate casinos, between $460 and $820 million, that's potentially to begin at 2026. And obviously, as you referenced, the city is being asked through cost shifts to cover $500 million. Given the amount of services that the M.T.A. provides to New York City, don't you think it's fair that the city shares some portion of this burden? And if so, what amount do you think would be a fair amount?

Mayor Adams: Well, clearly, part of this burden is due to the drop in ridership during the pandemic. And in 2021, New York City was already mandated to pay $3 billion. And this current $500 million per year, the state is going to put approximately $300 million, a one time shot for one year. We are being told to add a half a billion dollars onto our budget for eternity. That is just unfair. No other municipality is being asked to do this. Half a billion dollars added to New York City's budget for each year, when we're already dealing with real fiscal issues, is just unfair to the city. And if we should spread the pain throughout the entire state because we realize the M.T.A. is a statewide entity, it should not fall on the burden of New York City alone. And that's what I believe the $500 million is going to do to us. Unlike the state's contribution of a little over $300 million, one time, we've been told a half a billion dollars every year. That is going to strain our existing ability to provide services to the city.

Assembly Member Braunstein: I mean, the state is also contributing $800 million through the payroll mobility tax. Is there an amount that you think the city could shoulder?

Mayor Adams: Well, as I indicated already, the city is, based on the 2021 mandate, we already contributed $3 billion a year, $3 billion a year. And we believe this pain should be picked up by the state and other municipalities, not only New York City.

Assembly Member Braunstein: Okay. Thank you. As you know, the state has increased foundation aid to the city year after year, to the point where this year we're going to meet the C.F.E. lawsuit requirements. This city has instituted universal 3-K. It's been a tremendous program. My daughter is in 3-K. Will we be able to continue that program moving forward?

Mayor Adams: That's our goal. And one of the things that is concerning to me that when I did an analysis of our budget is that we were funding permanent programs with temporary dollars. The funding from the federal government, as you know, is going to run out in 2025. It is a substantial dollar amount. Our goal is to continue universal pre-K and I also believe we made a major error. We were funding seats and not bodies in the seats. Our team went in — First Deputy Mayor Wright went in and did a complete analysis just to discover that many of the seats we were funding did not have bodies in the seats.

And so, we have to be prepared in 2025, when the federal dollars that fund this program, when these dollars run out, we have to ensure that we can continue a great program of universal pre-K. And it's our desire to make sure every child that needs a seat gets a seat, but not to just fund a seat without a child in there. And we're calling on all of our lawmakers. We have many assembly districts, senate districts, council districts where they have vacant seats. We are calling on lawmakers to go out and find those families that need the early childhood development that comes with pre-K and 3-K and assist us in filling in the seats, so that we can assure every child that needs it has an opportunity to do so.

Assembly Member Braunstein: So, just to summarize, so even though 3-K was being subsidized with federal money that's going to run out, you still feel that you're going to be able to continue the program?

Mayor Adams: That's our goal. Our goal is to continue the program. Our goal is to continue to make the necessary cost efficiencies, but we need to be clear and honest with New Yorkers. This was a permanent program paid with temporary dollars. So, we're going to be looking towards the federal government and the state to assist us when these dollars run out in 2025.

Assembly Member Braunstein: That's great to hear. Thank you. And then, my final question, and as you know, Assemblywoman Rajkumar has introduced a bill that would eliminate Brooklyn-Queens Day as a city school holiday. If we were to pass that legislation, do we have your commitment that you would make Diwali a school holiday?

Mayor Adams: We have to follow state laws and rules on how many school days children must be in school. And when this was first brought to our attention, we realized we had no more school days and we identified the Brooklyn-Queens Day that this was a day that would allow us to have a Diwali holiday. I think it's an excellent idea. We sat down with community leaders. We sat down with the chancellor, and we both saw that this is an opportunity to do so. We shared with community leaders that it had to come through the state to make the determination. And I'm excited with the possibility that the community has been long calling for Diwali holiday. And if we are able to get that day, we are encouraged to make it a Diwali holiday. We have to partner with the U.F.T. as well. But the first stop is here in the state. And if we are able to accomplish that, I believe we are one step, giant step closer to a Diwali holiday.

Assembly Member Braunstein: Great. I hope we ultimately make that happen. Thank you for your testimony, Mr. Mayor.

Mayor Adams: Thank you.

Assembly Member Weinstein: Thank you. To the Senate.

State Senator Krueger: Thank you very much. So, our chair of the Cities Committee had to be excused today, Senator Sepulveda, but we are going to continue on without him. And we do have the chair of Local Governments and the chair of Cities too that will also likely be asking you questions. So, and of course I probably will as well. Mayor, nice to see you today. So, our first senator will be John Liu.

New York State Senator John C. Liu: What a pleasant surprise, madam chair. Thank you so much. And thank you, Mr. Mayor, for joining us —

Mayor Adams: Thank you.

State Senator Liu: And our illustrious team. Thank you for your support of the Diwali holiday. Thank you for your support of to make our streets safer by lowering the threshold of D.W.I. from 0.08 to 0.05. And thank you for being a very inclusive mayor and an administration that embraces all communities in New York.

Mayor Adams: Thank you.

State Senator Liu: Well, I guess we have to talk about your first pillar, jobs, which as you stated, the underpinning of which is education. Increasing the cap on charter schools in New York City, as you stated, will impose a severe financial burden on the City of New York. And it's something that I adamantly oppose lifting of that cap. And it's good to hear that you kind of oppose it also.

Mayor Adams: Is that a question?

State Senator Liu: No, that's not a question. You don't have to say anything. You already said what you need to say here, but on the next point, which is —

Mayor Adams: Well, let's stay on that point because I don't want that point to be given the impression that I took a position on it. I'm clear on scaling up successful schools, and I'm not attached to charter, district, public, private. I believe scaling up successful schools is what I believe in. What I did today was point out what the cost is for New York City. We believe it potentially could be a billion dollars, but we have a real school crisis and producing the quality…

State Senator Liu: Yes.

Mayor Adams: …Of a product that our children deserve. And I support scaling up good schools.

State Senator Liu: And I know many of my colleagues in the legislature would like to help you not have to bear this additional imposed cost, and therefore many of us oppose the increase in the charter cap. On the issue of class sizes, you also talked about this, you said that we passed legislation without providing additional funding to build schools and hire teachers.

Now, Mr. Mayor, this was not a problem that you created. This has been a longstanding issue. We've had many discussions with your predecessor and he always said he'd love to build more schools, as was required by the courts in New York, but the state still owed more money, i.e. foundation aid. Since you've taken office as mayor last year, the legislature and the governor in the budget provided the City of New York an additional $600 million, which you did not have when you took office. This year, we're poised to yet increase that further with an additional $600 million, and that will continue to increase annually for the next several years. So, by year five, Mr. Mayor, you'll have more, far more than the $1.3 billion necessary to provide a sound, basic education, which means that classes cannot be excessively large. Just want to point that out to you. Thank you.

State Senator Krueger Thank you.

Assembly Member Weinstein: We go to Assemblyman Reilly, yes. Is he here? For ranker on cities for five minutes.


Mayor Adams: It's all good. The clock's not running yet.

New York State Assembly Member Michael Reilly: Thank you, Madam Chair. Thank you, Mr. Mayor…

Mayor Adams: Thank you.

Assembly Member Reilly: ... for your testimony. So, I wanted to start out with gun violence in New York City, 16 and 17-year-olds, specifically based on Raise the Age. Have you seen with your executive team, have you noticed that the increase in the way that the court system set up now under Raise the Age where if a 16 and 17-year-old is caught in possession of a loaded firearm, they automatically go to family court? Do you think that if it was one of the delineated models of keeping it in criminal court, youth park criminal court, do you think that would help address the situation?

Mayor Adams: Well, when we think about the Raise the Age, when we think about criminal justice reform, when I was here in Albany, these were the issues that I fought for. I believe in — the criminal justice system was unfair. I think it targeted Black and brown people and it was heavy-handed. But when you do a real analysis in our pursuit of making sure people who commit crimes are receiving the justice they deserve, we can't forget the people who are the victims of crimes. The way it stands now, where a person who's carrying a loaded weapon but is not publicly exposed, is treated differently. That is just something we need to reexamine. We need to also reexamine if cases should stay in criminal court instead of a family court. I believe those extreme violent repeated offenders should be handled in a family court criminal part.

Assembly Member Reilly: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. The next part focuses again on the public safety aspect, organized retail crime. Right now, currently if they commit misdemeanors, petty larceny, and multiple times it's just a revolving door. Do you think there's a way that we can help address that? Maybe like having, if you have a prior conviction or two prior convictions within 18 months and then you commit another crime and it accumulates, each one that you're go into different stores over a thousand dollars making that a grand larceny a felony, do you think that would help assist?

Mayor Adams: Yeah. And there's several layers. Some of the repeated offenses that we are witnessing are particularly property crimes. They fall into three categories. Category one is the individual who is part of an organized ring. The attorney general did an amazing job of taking down one of those rings. Category two is a person whose substance abuse, they are dealing with a substance abuse and we need to address that. And category three are those who need basic services. So, we believe that let's go after and use the criminal justice apparatus or go after those organized rings. Those people who have substance abuse issues, let's address it at the precinct level, if they will partner with the social service provider, it would divert prosecution. And so, they can get the services they need if they're dealing with food insecurity, deferred prosecution, show them the availability to food.

But what we can't do is allow repeated offenders to make a mockery of our criminal justice system, and repeatedly, we are losing chain stores that are closing down. People who are being employed in those stores are losing their jobs. They're adding to our unemployment. So, people who state that we're criminalizing the poor, that goes after people who are repeated offenders, they're wrong. We're going after and criminalizing the poor when poor and low-income New Yorkers are being unemployed because we're losing those businesses in our city. We can't allow repeated offenders to make a mockery of the criminal justice system.

Assembly Member Reilly: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. So, staying on that topic, talking about with the marijuana shops that are opening up, some are opening up illegally. What type of enforcement is the city prepared to do? What can the state do to help? Specifically, I'm worried about it going to the old weed spot shootouts we used to have in New York City, when we were both on the Police Department. We don't want to go back to those days. Is there anything that we can do as a state to assist?

Mayor Adams: No, thanks so much for that question because this is a real problem in the city. And I think it's going to become pervasive throughout the state. The other municipalities like California and others have failed. We need help. Number one, as it stands now, someone is selling illegal cannabis in a store. The police can't take action. We need to, number one, go after landlords that intentionally set up illegal shops in their location, need to empower the sheriffs and the police to appropriately take action to confiscate those illegal uses. And we need to identify those who are selling to our children as well. We have to close down these illegal shops, or we're going to do away with all the good work that the state lawmakers did in legalizing cannabis and the business that's associated with it. Right now, we don't have the enforcement tools to correct the problem.

Assembly Member Reilly: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. And drug recognition experts, I'm hoping that we can still get some more funding... Drug recognition experts for the police, law enforcement for driving under the influence of marijuana. So...

Mayor Adams: It's so important.

Assembly Member Reilly: Thank you.


Assembly Member Weinstein: Yes, Senate. 

State Senator Krueger: Thank you. Next, we're going to call on Robert Jackson.

New York State Senator Robert Jackson: Good morning, mayor. Thank you to your team for coming up.

Mayor Adams: Thank you.

State Senator Jackson: Let me just say I'm very concerned about the fact that New York City has to pick up the locality share of Medicaid, when around the country, New York State is the only place that the localities have to pick it up. And that's hundreds of millions of dollars that New York City has to pick up. I'm also concerned about aid to municipalities, which New York City was cut out long time ago and we would probably get right now in a billion dollars every year, where other localities in New York state are getting their share. But we get a big fat zero. So, my question to you is New York City the Federal Reserve Bank that we have all of the money that we actually need? And that's a serious question because I've always raised the issue of aid to municipalities that the only city, only municipality in New York State that gets a big fat zero.

And so, I'm very serious about that and I know your answer. Obviously, you're not the Federal Reserve Bank, but also you mentioned about the whole distressed hospitals and that you're the only city that's paying for that. I mean, where's the fairness to New York City? And as you know, I've fought, when it comes to foundation aid, with John Liu and other advocates, to make sure that all of our children, not only New York City, but the entire state, gets an opportunity for sound, basic education. So, I'm very concerned that we have to push back at the state level and at the federal level to ensure that New York City gets its fair share, so we can do all of the things that we need. And so, with that, I only have a minute and a half. I say to you that John Liu said, and I agree, I'm not willing to go along with the charter expansion.

Basically, the governor opened the door up for a floodgate to New York City. And even if there was a hundred schools that come to New York City, under each charter, they can expand. And that's possibly 300 schools that come over the next 10 years. And one thing, you said it in your statement, the cost factor to New York City is going to be over a billion dollars more.

Do you have the money to do that? I know the answer is "No, we don't have it." So, that's another issue that we have expressed publicly at a press conference at City Hall with John Liu, Rachel May — not, Rachel — and Shelley Mayer, and others, and advocates stood solidly and said, "Stop. Stop. You keep pushing on New York City things that we don't need. We have our own internal problems." I congratulate you for trying to deal with the migrant situation for people coming in. You slept in the Brooklyn location overnight with Assembly Member Eddie Gibbs from Manhattan. And I appreciate the fact that you want to get things done, but we want to make sure that you have the resources to get it done. So, thank you for your leadership. I look forward to working with you on the issues that I've expressed.

Mayor Adams: Thank you, senator.

Assembly Member Weinstein: Thank you. We go to Assemblyman Epstein for 10 minutes.

New York State Assembly Member Harvey Epstein: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Thank you for being here. Really appreciate it.

Mayor Adams: Thank you. Good to see you.

Assembly Member Epstein: You too.

Mayor Adams: You inspired me to get my ears pierced.

Assembly Member Epstein: Bald man with earrings is a good look. (Laughter.)

So, I just wanted to talk to you about the housing plan, first. I mentioned the... your housing plan, I noticed you didn't mention around the basement apartments. And as you know, we lost 11 New Yorkers in basement apartments. And in the governor's proposal, she included a path to legalizing basement apartments for New York City. My understanding is you and your administration are supportive of doing that to this upcoming year. I want to hear what your thoughts are and how you're going to prioritize helping the New Yorkers who are living in basement apartments.

Mayor Adams: Well, we have been looking at this for some time and some of the lawmakers here as well as the City Council. And we want to make sure with the accessory dwelling units that it's done in a safe way. We saw after Hurricane Ida, we lost several New Yorkers due to the hurricane. Our goal is to make sure that any accessory dwelling is done in a safe way and be part of our overall plan on how we are going to deal with the housing crisis that we are facing. And I want to commend the governor and her attempt to address this issue and make sure we could ensure that any accessory dwelling, particularly basement apartments, are done in a safe way.

Assembly Member Epstein: So you support the state giving you authority under the Multiple Dwelling Law to a do a city plan to legalize basement apartments in a safe and affordable way. Is that correct?

Mayor Adams: Yes, I do. And the first attempt to roll out, it was costing homeowners anywhere from a half a million to a million dollars. It was just too expensive for low income New Yorkers. And when you go to several communities where you see these accessory dwellers or basement apartments, they're in low income communities. And right now if it's done illegally without any oversight, that is what's making it dangerous. We want to stop that from occurring.

Assembly Member Epstein: I appreciate that, and I appreciate your support to create a legal pathway to support these homeowners. As you know, we put in the budget $85 million last year statewide to help homeowners and municipalities legalize these basement units on any of the city applied for a plan to do that. Do you expect to be applied for future funding as well to help homeowners legalize these units?

Mayor Adams: That's our goal, and I think that that seems to be in line with what the governor is proposing as well.

Assembly Member Epstein: Great, thank you. I want to talk to you about another housing issue that you mentioned. The lifting of the 12 F.A.R. cap. And since I represent Manhattan, that obviously will impact my district. And obviously, we have a concern about housing, but more of a concern about affordable housing. I'm concerned by just lifting the cap without requiring affordability above 12 F.A.R., that we're missing the mark. We're not requiring developers who are building above 12 F.A.R. to guarantee permanent affordable housing. I was wondering if you'd be open to changing that and we're requiring if there is a cap, 12 F.A.R. cap lifted, which at this point I can't support because it's not affordable. Would you support something that required affordable housing above 12 F.A.R.?

Mayor Adams: Yes, I do. And I believe that we have an excellent opportunity when we look at almost 10 million square feet of available space in our office builders. If we do the conversions like we did post 9/11 in Lower Manhattan, I believe that this is an excellent opportunity for us to look at converting some of the units into affordable units and mixed use, affordable low-income and middle-income. Because I'm concerned about my teacher and McDonald worker, they are being priced out of the city and we are losing thousands of African Americans that are fleeing the city because it's no longer affordable. And so the goal is that as we look at what could be done on the state level like F.A.R., that's our opportunity to put as many opportunities out there to build a more unit.

Assembly Member Epstein: So in my district on the east side of Manhattan, Waterside Plaza, it's in my district. And this year I heard from residents who were seeing 40, 50 percent rent increases in some of these market rate units. And one way to prevent that from happening and keeping those renters and new and lower income New Yorkers in our city is good cause eviction. So you don't see those astronomical rent increases. And I'm wondering, have you seen this? I've seen this across the city. Do you think that's a good tool that we could have in our tool belt to protect renters who are the majority of New Yorkers?

Mayor Adams: We need to be clear that the issue about renters being displaced and being able to remain in the city and their homes is important. But we got to get it right. I'm a small property owner, three family. When my renters moved in, they signed the lease that I would never raise their rent as long as they're there and they've been there for about 10, 15 years in Bed-Stuy. You have to keep small property owners in mind. So whatever we do around good cause eviction, let's remember that small property owner who came from the Caribbean was able to buy a 10-unit house, how their increases are going up, what they're going through, I receive and field those calls all the time of these small property owners that all of their assets, all of their savings is in their homes.

And if we don't take that into account, the intention of good cause eviction can displace some of these small property owners and then you're going to have large investors come in and take away the real pursuit of the American dream. I don't know any community from any place on the globe that came to this country with the desire of owning a home. Everything they have is in that home. All that I have is in that three-family house.

Assembly Member Epstein: Mayor, we agree on that. Blackstone represents the tens of thousands of units in my district. They own Stuy Town, Peter Cooper Village. I'm talking about the large property owners who are — Blackstone's the largest landlord in the world. So those are the landlords we're trying to impact and I think that's what good cause is getting to support tenants who are living in those buildings.

I want to turn to the cost shifting that you mentioned around the M.T.A. Part of the cost shifting was related to the student MetroCard program and so I noticed that the governor proposed shifting about $100 million from this state and the M.T.A. to the city. And I'm wondering, do you feel like it's the city's responsibility to get students to and from school and to their school-related activities? What should be the shift? What should be the city's responsibility versus the E.M.T. versus state? Because obviously, as a parent of public school kids, their person went to public school, my kids needed to get to school. They needed the M.T.A. to get to their thing after school. They needed to go to the Model U.N. conference or the sporting event or all the activities that the metro card was critical for my children. And I'm sure for the million-plus New York children who were going to school.

Mayor Adams: Well, I may be dating myself even before we had metro cards, I remember having that little free pass that allowed us to get on the bus and train going to Bayside High School. We're doing our share. New York is paying 45 million; the state is paying 25 million. And we believe it's a great partnership that both the city and state, we're not even saying split 50/50, we are paying 45 million. The state is paying 25 million and we should not shift the cost on New York City alone.

Assembly Member Epstein: I appreciate that. Thanks for sharing that. The last question is around kind of the mental health crisis we're seeing. So in my district, we have a large number of people with mental health issues. It's really affecting our small businesses. They're going into stores and they're causing lots of disruption. We've heard from our East Village Merchants Association about the negative impact it's having in our community. In our local parks, we see needles in playgrounds and we've been trying to get more collaboration from the city to do something about it. How can we confront this? How can we confront that? How can we confront the vending that's happening on 14th Street where we see people leaving food on the ground and people buying it. It is kind of this mental health street life that's really having a negative impact on people in our community and their small businesses in our community.

Mayor Adams: First of all, I'm glad that you're saying that, and I hope people capture you saying —

Assembly Member Epstein: It's being recorded.

Mayor Adams: That is so important. I was on 14th Street the other day around 11 p.m.

Assembly Member Epstein: Call me, I'll join you.

Mayor Adams: Let's do that. And you are right and I just don't understand the philosophy that people embrace that we should allow people to stay on the street that cannot take care of their basic needs. That is inhumane. January and February, when I first got elected, I went and visited people that lived in encampments, that lived in boxes. I saw human ways, drug paraphernalia, schizophrenic, bipolar, people can't make those decisions. And so our approach of using outreach workers combined with other professionals to give them the care they deserve is what we are going to continue to pursue.

Assembly Member Epstein: So mayor, I think I have only 10 seconds left. It sounds like I'd love you to come back to the district. I know it sounds like we agree to win on criminalized poverty. We want to help people and I think that's our shared goal. Is that right Mr. Mayor?

Mayor Adams: Yes.

Assembly Member Epstein: Thank you.

Assembly Member Weinstein: Thank you. To the Senate.

State Senator Krueger: Thank you very much. Our next questioner is Senator Rachel May.

New York State Senator Rachel May: Mr. Mayor. Nice to meet you.

Mayor Adams: How are you?

State Senator May: I'm great.

Mayor Adams: You must have came after I left.

State Senator May: Yep. Exactly. So I represent Syracuse in Central New York, and I'm chair of the city's two committee, which is all the other cities. So I was happy that you mentioned waste reduction. A lot of New York City's waste is chucked right through my district to Seneca Meadows landfill, which is slated to close in a year or two and needs to close. So, we in the legislature have more ambitious targets than what the governor laid out for packaging reduction as well as I carry a major expansion of the bottle bill, and I am wondering if you will support more ambitious efforts to reduce waste in those ways.

Mayor Adams: Well, and we would love to partner with you and hear some of your suggestions, but I am really pleased with Commissioner Tisch. We started our composting program in Queens, hit record numbers ahead of time. This is going to be eventually a citywide program to make sure that we find better ways to use our waste. But if there's some ideas that you believe you want to present to the administration, we are eager to do so. We want to make a real mark on how do we reduce our waste and move in the area of recycle.

State Senator May: Tremendous. I look forward to doing that. I hope that we can have a chance to meet about that. I also had an opportunity to tour the watershed in the Catskills, some of the protection efforts that the city does to protect its drinking water, the source. But there are a lot of new pressures with the climate crisis and with P.F.A.S., the forever chemicals that are getting into our water supply and everything I'm wondering, is New York City expanding its efforts to protect the watershed at the source so that you can continue having the unfiltered drinking water that is the envy of the world?

Mayor Adams: When you say expansion of the protection, can you drill down a little more for me?

State Senator May: Well, so P.F.A.S. is a real threat. These forever chemicals from plastics and a lot of the chemicals that we are generating, they're ending up in the water supply. They're dangerous for people to drink. And then harmful algal blooms are happening more and more as the temperatures rise and also agricultural runoff gets into the water. And so there are just a lot more things to guard against in order to keep our water safe to drink. So I'm just wondering if New York has allocated more funds or it needs more funds to do that kind of watershed protection that you already do at a large scale.

Mayor Adams: Anything you want to add on that, Jacques?

Jacques Jiha, Budget Director, Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget: Yeah, we will continue our effort to make investments in watershed to make sure that we protect our water at the source.

State Senator May: Okay, great.

Mayor Adams: But again, senator, if there's some particular ideas you have, we really want to partner with you based on my reading of some of the proposals you have produced. This is an area where you are an expert, this is an area that you believe in and we believe, let's go to the experts if there's some things you specifically feel we should be doing. The team up here is looking forward to that engagement.

State Senator May: Okay. If you haven't gone on a tour and seen what they're doing, training farmers to create buffers around to the water supplies and things like that, it's a really great thing to do. I recommend it because it's the water supply in New York City... If you had to start filtering that water, that would blow up your budget.

Mayor Adams: Why don't we arrange a time for me to come up? We just have to do it quietly because every time I leave the city, the press follows me.

State Senator May: And then I just have one other question, which is about a bill that I carried last year that I think you're familiar with, the S.I.G.H. Act. I worked very hard with the New York Civil Liberties Union on this to protect our kids in schools from citing schools right next to major highways. And I recognize that New York City has limited space for building new schools and may not be easy to find spaces that are far enough away from a highway. We were only asking for 500 feet, but still. My understanding was New York City was the sticking point on getting that bill passed. So would you be open to working with us to try to figure out wording for that bill so that we can protect our kids all around this state from the dangers of being in school right next to a highway, breathing the air, the noise pollution, the other hazards that are associated with that?

Mayor Adams: And I wrestled with that bill because the intentions were right, and I remember sitting down with the team and going over it because it is a concern. And I'm proud of the fact that any new building that is being built is going to be 100 percent electric. We are going to invest a substantial amount of money to convert a lot of the boilers that are spewing out toxic fumes. We were up in the Bronx at one of the schools that was right by the highway.

The density issue is a real issue for us. Unlike other locales, finding and citing spaces to build schools is a real challenge. But again, I would love to sit down with you and see if we could come with a meeting of the mines because I did, personally, I wrestled with that. You know, we had to say that can we actually do this? But we have to deal with the real environmental issues. That's why we are converting our vehicle fleet to electric vehicles to deal with making with Uber and Lyft. You're talking about thousands of vehicles going electric. So we are in line. We are with you. And if there's a way we can get to a place to accomplish both those goals, two thumbs up.

State Senator May: Great, I appreciate that. I mean, you had some really constructive counter proposals about air quality inside the schools, which I think are something we should be working on as well. So thank you. I look forward to working with you on these issues.

Mayor Adams: Thank you. Though we are good proposal, I'm just an overall good guy.

State Senator May: Thank you.

State Senator Krueger: I'm not sure that gets you anything in Albany, but thanks for sharing. (Laughter.) Assembly.

Assembly Member Weinstein: We go to Assemblywoman Hyndman, three minutes.

New York State Assembly Member Alicia Hyndman: Good morning Mr. Mayor, thank you.

Mayor Adams: How're you?

Assembly Member Hyndman: And you and your team. So Southeast Queens was one of the biggest areas that did composting. So thank you for saying that.

Mayor Adams: And this was very interesting, assemblywoman, that South Jamaica, Queens, St. Albans, all of those communities that people stated would not compost are leading the way. Those Black and brown communities that they said wouldn't participate in the program, they're leading the way in Queens.

Assembly Member Hyndman: I'm very happy to hear that. And I know that about my constituents. So my question: we have that we open up shelters in and around the community that were closed, the hotels that became shelters, and we know it, the migrants need a place to stay and we're very happy to provide that. But one of the things you said is that you may have to cut essential programs for the city and what gets cut first is my question, because our schools are overcrowded now and additional dollars aren't coming for that. So principals are having to do more with less. We've seen an influx of activity around some of these places. So what more can you cut and still run the City of New York?

Mayor Adams: It's a real frightening experience when you think about it. $4 billion in our budget. In 2025, we are going to reach a real fiscal cliff. We still have substantial union contracts we have to settle people look at the $8 billion we have in our Rainy Day Fund. Don't realize we still have some very serious costs. Those dollars are gone. And every service in the city is going to be impacted. Every service. Over 11,000 children are in our school system we absorbed. Thus far, we have not received any financial assistance to assist us with what we've been holding on for a close to a year in this migrant crisis.

Assembly Member Hyndman: I just wanted to thank the staff that you have up here, Tish and Chris for the work that they do. They're very responsive to the questions, which helps me, help my community. And I yield back my 47 seconds. Thank you.

Assembly Member Weinstein: Thank you. Senate.

State Senator Krueger: Senator Cleare.

New York State Senator Cordell Cleare: Good morning.

Mayor Adams: Good morning, senator.

State Senator Cleare: Thank you so much, Mayor Adams, and your team. Thank you for being up here today. I just want to drill down, you already mentioned this a little bit in one of your responses, but a recent New York Times article highlighted an exodus of Black residents from New York City over the last decade, and though the city's overall population has increased, nearly 200,000 Blacks have left New York City. That resulted in us now being one in five residents of New York City compared with 2000 where we were one in four according to the latest census data.

And one of the main causes pointed out in the article is the rising cost of raising a family in New York. More specifically, the rising rents and lack of truly affordable safe housing for Blacks in New York City who have an average median income of $53,000 compared to whites at $98,000. We know that there's also been historic barriers put in the way of Blacks renting and owning in New York City.

I want to know in your housing plan and with the tools that you have, how can we address this major housing injustice, this disparity that exists? And I know earlier you talked about the F.A.R. cap, if that can be tied to some way providing housing for blacks in New York City who are very critically being pushed out of New York City.

Mayor Adams: Well said, senator. And probably your community is ground zero for that problem.

State Senator Cleare: Yes.

Mayor Adams: Of the transformation of Harlem is clear and you're seeing longtime residents are no longer finding it affordable. And our goal is to really zero in on low and middle income New Yorkers. And the cost of housing is making it challenging. And one of the reasons we're finding that landlords are able to have these absorbent fees and costs is because of the stock. That's why we have to build more. We have to build more housing. And building more housing means that we need partners like you and the City Council to state "here's some locations to build."

State Senator Cleare: And I don't mean to cut you off because I don't have a lot of time.

Mayor Adams: No, it's no problem.

State Senator Cleare: We build more. We built a whole lot and we built our own displacement. So I want to make sure that going forward, that we now focus on that, learn from those mistakes and make sure that we're including all New Yorkers, including Black residents who want to remain in the community. And as you know, I represent a historically Black community and this has been devastating for all of us. If you can just talk a little bit about the executives' proposal to establish a New York City office of community hiring and is that something that you would support? And I don't know if you're familiar with it. You can send it to me.

State Senator Krueger: Thank you. Lovely. 

Assembly Member Weinstein: We go to Assemblyman Weprin. Three minutes.

New York State Assembly Member David Weprin: Good morning Mr. Mayor.

Mayor Adams: (Inaudible.)

Assembly Member Weprin: Thank you for coming back to visit us and I know you've been a constant force back and forth. I am the new chair of the assembly committee on insurance, and I've been reviewing the executive budget and the potential impacts it will have on New Yorkers. Specifically, I'm referring to Article 7, H.M.H. Part J, which is commonly known as the Pay and Pursue or Pay and Resolve. This policy mandates that health insurers pay emergency and inpatient services claims prior to conducting a utilization review.

Under this proposal, hospitals would be reimbursed for services performed before health insurers can fully assess the medical necessity of those services. Is my understanding that there is concern among the municipal workforce regarding the potential implementation of this policy? And I'm curious to get your feedback or your team's feedback on this proposal and whether your administration feels its implementation would be a benefit or a hindrance to the municipal workforce.

Mayor Adams: And I'm a big believer. I know it. I know it. I know it. I don't know. So don't mind me turning it over to Jacques because I don't know.

Jiha: Yes, it is a bill of concern to us because it's about like $111 million this year and going to 25 next year. So we definitely would've to work with the governor to make sure that they don't implement this policy because again, as I said, it's another cost to the City of New York.

Assembly Member Weprin: Thank you. We are going to be obviously discussing that as we do our response to the budget in our house and we'd like to take into consideration your feelings on it. But we have not made a decision of whether the assembly majority is going to accept it or reject it at this point.

Jiha: Sure.

Assembly Member Weprin: Thank you.

Mayor Adams: Thank you.

Assembly Member Weinstein: Senate. 

State Senator Krueger: Thank you very much. Next we have… Oh, have you met Senator Gounardes?

New York State Senator Andrew Gounardes: Who is this man here? I don't know I've ever seen this man before in my life.

State Senator Krueger: It was a guess.

State Senator Gounardes: Good morning, Mr. Mayor. First on behalf of Assembly Members Tannousis and Mamdani, we want to request that Greek Independence Day is also a holiday. The Greek contingent and the Astoria contingent.

Mayor Adams: They say I'm from Athens.

State Senator Gounardes: I want to drill down a little bit on some of these cost shifts. You're being asked, the city is being asked to pick up as part of this budget operating expenses, paratransit, student MetroCards. You said it's over a half a billion dollars. How does that compare to what the city's currently providing? And are any other localities in the M.T.A. district providing a similar rate or percentage of a share to help support the M.T.A.?

Mayor Adams: And Jacques, you could break down the exact numbers and details of it. We are finding in our analysis, all of those who fall within the M.T.A. throughout the entire state are receiving some form of services. But it appears as though only New York City is being required to assume all of the course of these services that historically, all of you have fought for, to make sure that the state pays their portion of that, which we have fought for now, has been shipped totally to New York City. Jacques, do we have the exact numbers?

Jiha: Yes. It's give an example of... Currently, we pay about $2.3 billion we contribute to the M.T.A. City residents contribute about 68.5 percent of all the revenues that go toward the M.T.A. That's on top of that. The governor is basically is asking the city to pay half a billion dollars for fair fares and for paratransit and all of these things. These are shared responsibilities. That was the intent of the program to begin with. Now they're trying to shift everything onto the city and the city's only locality, like you said, around the entire region that is asked to contribute half a billion dollars in perpetuity. It's not like one-time, there's a short term problem. It's in perpetuity. We have to contribute half a billion dollars a year.

State Senator Gounardes: So I want to get into it because I have 40 seconds left. I appreciate that answer. Is it fair to say that people who use Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road also when they come into the city, use city buses and city trains?

Mayor Adams: Yes.

Jiha: They do.

State Senator Gounardes: Okay, thank you. I also want to shift, you mentioned earlier about the migrant crisis. Next time you're in Red Hook, give me a call, I'll come with you. The federal money that was passed last year, we haven't seen it yet, but do we know how much is earmarked for New York City at this point?

Mayor Adams: No, they have not. We met with the border control and sat down and communicated with them. They have not allocated the exact dollar amount that will come to New York City.

State Senator Gounardes: Do we know when that might happen?

Mayor Adams: No, we do not.

Assembly Member Weinstein: Assemblyman Carroll.

New York State Assembly Member Robert Carroll: Good morning, Mr. Mayor, thank you so much for coming.

Mayor Adams: How're you?

Assembly Member Carroll: I'm well. Thank you for asking. You and I share a similar passion and a similar struggle. Of course, I'm talking about literacy. You were a great leader in talking about your struggle with reading and dyslexia as a young person. I, for the last seven years here in Albany, have been beating my head against the wall, talking about literacy. You had done great service to hundreds of thousands of children in New York City by sounding the alarm of the literacy crisis that we're facing in New York and committing to reforming our elementary school education. But yesterday, in the city, there was a report that said still a majority of our public schools are using an outdated, outmoded, and debunked curriculum from Teachers College at Columbia University that uses a method of teaching called three-cueing, that has no basis in science or evidence.

I know that you care about instituting a evidence-based structured literacy curriculum that's based on the five pillars of literacy, which are for those who don't know, phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Will you commit today to saying that we will ban three-cueing, we will ban these debunked literacy curriculums that are destroying the lives of our children, and can you support my bill, The Right to Read Act that will make sure that we have evidence-based literacy curriculum and teacher training for every single teacher in this state and stop these outmoded curriculums that are destroying the lives of children?

Mayor Adams: Well, first, I cannot thank you enough for your commitment in this area. When people talk about upstream models, 30 to 40 percent of the men and women on Rikers Island have learning disabilities that we believe that dyslexia leading the way, and the partnership you did with the Chancellor a few days ago, just continue to show your commitment in this area.

I have full confidence in Chancellor Banks. He has really approached a real literacy component to how we're going to revamp education. I think we have done a disservice to our educators by putting them in an atmosphere. We're not the right tools, but evidence-based must be the way we must go and we want to partner with you again, there.

Assembly Member Carroll: I agree with you 100 percent. I hope you can bring that clarity to the governor. She vetoed last year a bill of mine that would've just had public hearings about literacy and dyslexia. She was too scared to have public hearings and listen to parents, educators, students. We need your clarity. Please, support these bills, talk to the governor because if we don't do it, our children will inherit the wind.

Mayor Adams: Thank you.

Assembly Member Weinstein: Thank you. To the Senate. 

State Senator Krueger: Thank you. I'm now going to turn to Chair Martinez from Local Governments Committee for 10 minutes.

New York State Senator Monica Martinez: Thank you. Good morning, mayor. How are you?

Mayor Adams: How're you? Good to see you.

State Senator Martinez: I am doing well. Thank you. Good to see you as well. First of all, I just want to say thank you for being here with us today and with your team and presenting us with your comments, and especially making sure that New York City is a safe place and a place where people can live.

With that said, as chair of Local Government and also proud immigrant myself, I want to thank you for what you're doing with the humanitarian crisis that we are now facing, not just in New York City, but the entire state of New York. Coming from Suffolk County in Brentwood, New York, which is a very transient and very diverse district, sometimes people use fear mongering to elicit emotions on the backs of pains of families that are struggling. And for me, I just want to say thank you for your efforts in providing some sort of solace for our people who are coming in from different countries.

But with that said, I just want to ask is there are rumors, and I just want to make sure that rumors are not real or fake. So I'm going to ask you personally, it was reported that New York City is looking into Nassau Coliseum as a potential housing for our asylum seekers. Is that part of the New York City plan?

Mayor Adams: Well, I didn't hear the first part. I'm sorry. You said it was reported that we what?

State Senator Martinez: That New York City is looking to use Nassau Coliseum in Nassau County as a place for temporary housing for our asylum seekers.

Mayor Adams: That has not come across my desk.

State Senator Martinez: Okay. See, because there was a news article on January of this year that said New York City was looking for locations of potential places around the state, and Nassau Coliseum came up as one. So I just wanted make sure that I gave you the opportunity to clear that up because as you know, if this is the case, all I would hope is that there is some sort of discussions with our local governments, with our local schools, with our not-for-profits. Our not-for-profits are already struggling with resources and lack thereof. So I just want to make sure that I put that out there and give you the opportunity to clear that up.

Mayor Adams: Yes. I think you started out with the first word, there was a news article. Clearly, that has not come across my desk, and if we were to do an initiative and one of the local municipalities in the area, we're going to communicate with the local electors to share what we are doing. This administration believes strongly in empowering local electors. I think everyone here would tell you how accessible our administration, my administration is, and we would definitely communicate with you. But with that said, there needs to be a decompression strategy in the state. I think it's the obligation of the governor's office to decide how we're going to take the close to 47,000 people that have come through our care. How do we make sure that this is a statewide initiative? This is not a New York City's obligation, and there should be a decompression strategy that we could successfully take small amounts of those who are seeking to pursue the American dream.

State Senator Martinez: Which is why I also said people are using the fear mongering tactic where these are families that are seeking asylum, that are coming from countries where their lives are at stake. And I can tell you from my personal story coming to the United States where my mother came on her own, leaving her children and her husband behind, the resources were there for us to be successful where we are today.

All of my siblings are successful individuals and that was because the resources were available. And I just want to make sure that whatever we do for these asylum seekers, because they are looking for help, that we talk and we communicate and that things don't come up in surprises because the last thing we want is a surprise. But like you said before, we need to figure out how to help these asylum seekers.

And I do want to say thank you for being here and for providing that opportunity for these asylum seekers and especially these children. These children have nothing to do with what's happening and it's scary to know that they're coming to a strange place that they don't know and all they want is to feel love and to feel acceptance. So, again, I do thank you for that.

Mayor Adams: Yeah. And they feel that love with this administration. And it's unfortunate that we had close to a thousand people that lived in one of the hotels, single adult males, and we told them that we need to open the space for children and families in hotels and put the men in congregate settings, similar to what we're doing to everyday men in the city that live in congregate settings.

We want children and families to be in hotel rooms as we transition them into permanent housing. And a small group of agitators, had 40 of those individuals to protest and be on the street. They were on their way into the bus to go to the humanitarian center that we open. Heat, warm food three meals a day. We in incorporate English as second language instruction and they are thankful. And that's the real tragedy of this.

When you go to the asylum seekers and the migrants, they are saying thank you for what you are doing. What we are doing in New York City is not being done anywhere else in the country. We are providing meals, healthcare, education, mental health support, all the things that we should treat people with the level of dignity. And who is it being led by? It's being led by Commissioner Castro who is a dreamer. He came here with his mother from Mexico. He understands what they're going through like you understand that. And that is who's leading our initiative.

We've done an amazing job and this city should be proud of what we have done and what we continue to do.

State Senator Martinez: Thank you. And just one last comment. In moving forward, we also need to make sure that our not-for-profits, those organizations that are helping across the state are also funded because they're at a crossroad. They don't know who to help because of the lack of resources that they have. So that's something else that we need to look at. And obviously, going back with aim and the monies that are given to our municipalities, which is staying stagnant, I agree that needs to be increased. Our local governments are facing so much right now and I just want to say thank you for coming here and for answering my questions and for clearing the misconceptions that's out there.

Mayor Adams: Yes.

State Senator Martinez: Thank you.

Mayor Adams: And not only did I spend the night in the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal and spoke with our brothers and sisters that came from another country, but I spent the night in El Paso. I saw what the failure of the national level has decimated that city as they had to take upon the influx.

But a lot of people must realize, these cities, these border states, people pass through there. They end up in New York. We have already been the leader of allowing people to come from other municipalities. We were already leading the way. This new influx and the inhumane way they were treated has put us on the precipice of just being overwhelmed. And we can get it right if everyone is participating in this.

State Senator Martinez: I agree. And I'm going to also echo what my colleague Senator Jackson always says that New York City needs some A money. And I do concur. I think you do need a little extra help. So I do appreciate you being here again. Thank you.

Mayor Adams: Thank you.

State Senator Krueger: Thank you. Assembly.

Assembly Member Weinstein: Before we go to questioner, we've been joined by Assemblyman Sayegh and Assemblywoman Rajkumar has been sitting in the audience. I neglected to announce her earlier. Assemblywoman Seawright for three minutes.

New York State Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright: Thank you, Chair Weinstein and Chair Krueger. Good morning, Mr. Mayor. It's good to see you and your team and as we roll into Women's History Month, it's great to see the smart, talented women, Tiffany and your first deputy mayor and our former colleague Diane around you.

I am the new chair of the People with Disabilities Committee and I know you have a very active Mayor's Office of People for Disabilities. But it's been documented that people with disabilities in New York City are more than twice as likely to live in poverty as those without a disability.

Is there a comprehensive action plan to change the city from its transportation, to its schooling, to its employment opportunities to access the affordable housing and healthcare to help those with disabilities improve their quality of life and receive the economic opportunities they need and so deserve.

Mayor Adams: And there are too many stigmas and untruths that is attached to people with disabilities. And our workforce development plan is looking at all of that. All a person with disabilities is asking is number one, to be allowed to be gainfully employed. Number two, to be able to move around the city the same way everyone else is able to do so. And that is what we are attacking. And our commissioner is head on in ensuring that we look at all the barriers that have historically prevented people living with disabilities from entering the workforce and how do we move around the city in an appropriate fashion.

Assembly Member Seawright: I also want to just raise the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation. Roosevelt Island, as you know, is in my district and we appreciated you coming and visiting the island. There's still several openings on the board. As of last year, there was a huge lack of diversity on the board and I know you have several appointees and we've talked about the residents of the island wanting to have a say and a voice in the authority, the corporation that governs the island.

So maybe we could get together and talk about how we could help the constituents to have a voice and who represented them in filling those vacancies and taking into account diversity and women on that board.

Mayor Adams: The first deputy mayor would reach out to your office. And I agree. We traveled to Roosevelt Island. It's amazing. I lived in the city all this time. This is the first time I took the tram. That's a beautiful place to live, right across the street from Gracie Mansion. Unlike Gracie Mansion, you don't have ghosts. But the first deputy mayor would communicate with you and we will finalize those items we went through.

Assembly Member Seawright: Great. Thank you.

Assembly Member Weinstein: To the Senate.

State Senator Krueger: Thank you. Next up we have Senator Leroy Comrie.

New York State Senator Leroy Comrie: Good morning Mr. Mayor.

Mayor Adams: Senator, how are you?

State Senator Comrie: I'm good. Good to see you this morning.

Mayor Adams: Good. Good to see you.

State Senator Comrie: And your team. I see you stole LaTonya McKinney from the Council and along with your deputy mayor and your new advisor, I'm glad that you have a strong team of women along with Tiffany Raspberry to move your administration. And Jacques is also someone that I've had the pleasure of working with.

I only have three minutes. I'm just going to run off some things that I want to talk about. I do not support expansion of the charter school numbers. But I do want to see more minority charter school owners that have been waiting in the pipeline to get opportunities to get charter schools. So I just want to be clear about that. There was a mistake that my office made last year that people are confused about, but we need to make sure that, and we need to end co-locations and charter schools with public schools as much as possible.

Hopefully this year in the legislature we can eliminate that as an issue because it's unfair to our local kids to be imposed in a charter school with new properties, new equipment and their suffering to look at that in an existing school. That must end.

The issues on housing, I would hope that you would work with the community boards. I know it's a hard road, but a lot of communities are concerned in Cambridge Heights and Laurelton about the A.D.U.s, the basement apartments. The pilot plan in Brooklyn didn't work. It was too expensive. I hope that we can also focus on the A.M.I. adjustment, which is a big problem. Because trying to build affordable housing when you have to project the prices in Jamaica against Forest Hills, we can never get affordable housing bill. It's a federal issue. I hope that we can all work together to try to get rid of the A.D.I. adjustment.

Progressive design-build, I know that it is already… D.D.C., your D.D.C has already said it saved the city over $2 billion. We can get a lot of projects done with the savings. Hope that you can support my bill on Senate Bill 1761 regarding progressive design-build. Also, I'm glad to see that you're moving on teleworking. I have a bill on that also. Senate bill 45 80. I hope that we can come to some opportunity to deal with teleworking for those people that really can't get to work because of a particular reasons. I hope we can work that out.

Diwali, I support the Diwali holiday. As you know, I was representing parts of our Kew Gardens and Kew Garden Hills. I want to thank you for being there and calming their fears after the incident in Jersey. You personally showed up and promised continued relationships with the Police Department. Also, what you're doing on migrants I believe is critical and important.

I hope that we can all follow your lead on that. Finally, the main thing I want to talk to you about as chair of the Corporations Committee, I do support your reticence and understanding that you shouldn't be taxed another billion dollars from the M.T.A.

So as chair of the Corporations Committee with oversight of the M.T.A., I do support you on that and we will work to get other tax revenue working with members here to figure out a way to fund the M.T.A. without charging the city residents four times over with a triple tax that they're trying to do right now. Thank you.

State Senator Krueger: Thank you. Assembly.

Mayor Adams: Thank you.

State Senator Comrie: Three minutes is not long.

Assembly Member Weinstein: We go to Assemblyman Ari Brown. Three minutes.

New York State Assembly Member Ari Brown: Thank you, Madam Chairperson. Good morning, Mr. Mayor.

Mayor Adams: How are you?

Assembly Member Brown: Another sharp suit. Always looking good.

Mayor Adams, you've consistently called for changes to the state bail laws to address repeat offenders that commit crimes throughout the city. As you just testified at this hearing on bail data, you've identified around 2,000 individuals that are responsible for most of the crime in the city. Do you think that last year's changes to the bail laws have helped the city deal with these repeat offenders? And what's your plan on how to address these serial criminals?

Mayor Adams: My counsel, Brendan McGuire has done a lot of work around this area. And Brendan, can you…

Brendan McGuire, Chief Counsel to the Mayor and City Hall: Sure. Thank you for the question, sir. I think the mayor's absolutely right. There is a small number of extreme recidivists in the city who are responsible for disproportionate amount of the crime, and also who are failing to appear for court appearances.

The mayor has focused on about 2,000 or so individuals who are particularly violent. Beyond that number, though, there is a larger group of extreme recidivous of about 9,000 people. Just to take one example, those 9,000 individuals, they represent about 8 percent of the total number of defendants arrested in 2022.

Last year, those 8 percent of people were responsible for 56 percent of felony burglaries in the city. They were also responsible for more than 30 percent of assaults as well as robberies. So we have this issue where you have a smaller number of defendants, we are calling extreme recidivists, who are exploiting the current system and need to be addressed.

Mayor Adams: And what number is important to point out that the counsel shared with me is that they're eight times more likely not to return to court. Small number of people, disproportionate amount of crime, making a mockery of the reforms we fought for in the criminal justice system.

Assembly Member Brown: Thank you, mayor. Just to continue on that thought, many businesses around the city, both large and small, have pleaded for changes to the law to address serial shoplifters. We have the same problem on Long Island. Raising criminals have impacted the quality of life in New Yorkers by repeatedly shoplifting at bodegas, grocery stores, C.V.S.s, Walgreens, and many other types of stores every day. These criminals are even threatening or assaulting workers who try and stop them. What's your plan to address this issue, Mr. Mayor?

Mayor Adams: And we spoke about some of them, of going after the organized portion of this and taking down these organizations that are selling the products on social media, but also looking at those repeated offenders. And those who refuse to get the necessary care that we are offering around food services and substance abuse, we believe we are going to need the state lawmakers to look at those extreme, habitual, repeated offenders to increase the penalties that are associated with it.

But it's something that we often overlook and I'm hoping that the state lawmakers look at. Social media is feeding many of the crises we're seeing in our cities. When you are looking on social media, on TikTok, Instagram and others of people going into shops, stealing all over the country, it is feeding the behavior and we need to really reign in the role that social media is playing on many of these social ills that we are facing.

Assembly Member Brown: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Just to switch to education for a moment. According to the data from the State Education Department, only 30 percent of New York City students in grades eight were deemed to have scored as proficient in math on standardized exams. And only 65 percent of students in grade were deemed to be proficient in the L.A. exams. Do you think these statistics support or hurt the governor's proposal to expand charter schools in New York City?

Mayor Adams: No, I don't think the governor's proposal's going to hurt those numbers. The fact that if the child is in a school, we need to make sure those children are proficiency. I've quoted the numbers over and over again. 65 percent of Black and brown children don't meet proficiency in the Department of Education. That's not a charter school, that's the Department of Education.

We need to scale up and expand what's successful and what works. And that is my primary focus. Whatever works to educate our children, we need to scale it up and we need to make sure that children are prepared for the future, not only in what we have been teaching previously, but how to be prepared for tomorrow, critical thinking, working in groups, communication. These are skills that historically have not been in our traditional school system.

Assembly Member Brown: Thank you Mr. Mayor. I see I have 35 more seconds. As a former police officer, what can we do to continue support our police? You're one of them. We admire you for that. What can we do?

Mayor Adams: Well, it is clear to not demonize the profession because in the numerical minority that tarnishes the badge. We saw what has happened from the days of Officer Mora and Rivera and to lose an officer while off duty shopping for a car. Our officers are on the front line. They run towards danger while we run away from danger and we need to let them know we appreciate the sacrifices they make.

Assembly Member Brown: Thank you, Mr. Mayor.

Assembly Member Weinstein: Thank you to the Senate.

State Senator Krueger: Thank you. I believe I'm the last senator. So welcome to Albany again, Mr. Mayor. I also just want to highlight how important we all do think if we change the law to do away with Queens or perhaps Queens, Brooklyn Day, that you will have the ability to provide the day for the Diwali participating community, which I personally have learned, because everybody was telling me it matters in the Indian community, but of course it matters in the Indian, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh and Jane religious communities.

And I'm told there's over 200,000 New Yorkers that participate in religions that participate with Diwali. And I hear it's a great holiday. So the Greeks might want to participate in Diwali also. So they were raising that issue.

But to get to other topics. M.T.A., I understand your point about these new costs for the city and I understand my colleague, Senator Comrie's point, and I've been reading all these articles that are commenting on why we shouldn't do this proposal. But you agree we have to do something. New York City is completely dependent on making sure we have a functioning M.T.A. So what do you suggest we do up here to actually get the M.T.A. the money that I think we both agree they need?

Mayor Adams: Well, I think similar to what I have done in the city government. When we came into office in January 1st, 2022, we immediately implemented a 3 percent peg on all of our agencies. We didn't do it one fiscal year, we did it the second year as well. And I think that the M.T.A. must get their books in order.

We know that's not going to be the only way to close their budget gap. I believe that that is one of the ways. And the second, it is a statewide responsibility. It is unbelievable for the New York City electeds to be told that we are going to take a half a billion dollars out of only New York City's budget, only New York. M.T.A. is a statewide obligation and we have been doing our share, as Jacques pointed out, our budget director. We were committed to do the $3 billion. We are doing our share. We know how important the M.T.A. is. But it's unfair to do what's in New York as I think Senator Jackson pointed out. We don't have an endless flow of cash and it is imperative that the M.T.A. and we're hoping that the governor understands that.

State Senator Krueger: Thank you. Jumping to the migrant situation. So when the state was testifying the other day, I asked them quite a few questions about how their billion dollar contribution really was or wasn't a billion dollar contribution, over how long and what the impact actually would be.

When I look at the numbers your offices have shared, it seems that while the state is saying the governor and her budget that we'll be covering our traditional 29 percent of the cost of sheltering this new growing population, that one, they're assuming they know how many people it actually is and will be. But two, it turns out we actually haven't been giving the city the 29 percent that they should be getting even in your traditional homeless shelter population, which is at crisis levels, speaking as a New York City resident.

So help me understand what the math actually should be if we are meeting our both historic commitment to our share for shelter in general, and then if we were attempting to meet our commitment of a matching formula for the migrant community. I know it's a little technical but would be very helpful for me to understand.

Mayor Adams:  You pointed out that's only 29 percent with their proposal. And what everyone I'm hoping will wrap their thoughts around is that in January 1st, 2022, we had about 45,000 people in our shelter system and that's throughout the years. In one year, we reached roughly 43,000. Now we're in the area of 47,000. In one year, we've doubled what we traditionally had in our entire shelter system. The weight of that is just unbelievable when you think about it. Jacques, can you go into the numbers?

Jiha: Yes. The governor basically proposed a formula of a third funding from the federal government, a third funding from the state and a third from the city. As you know in the Republican-led House, it's highly unlikely that we're going to get anything from the federal government. So therefore, from our perspective, if you want to split the cost, at least it should be at the minimum 50/50.

But right now, it's like 29 percent. It's not even a third of, like you said, they're only giving us 29 percent. But again, it's a billion dollars out of a $4.2 billion problem, leaving us with $3.2 billion that we have to close within a matter of two months. This is the timeline, the urgency of the timeline is very critical for us.

If we don't have those resources, we have only two months to balance our budget because we're coming up to the executive budget at the end of April and we have to balance fiscal date '23 and fiscal date '24. It's not like something that you have to resolve in a year. Within two months, we have to balance our budget.

So the fact that we don't have those resources and on top of that, there is the added pressure of the billion dollar cut imposed on us because of the M.T.A., the Medicaid cost shift and other costs. That's what's so concerning to us.

State Senator Krueger: So if I just stick with the math for the reimbursement for the shelters and the H.E.R.R.C.s, my back of the envelope math is that we're really only paying about 16 percent of the city's share of its cost for traditional shelter arrangements and H.E.R.R.C.s, and that we need to get you to at least 29 percent if we're trying to negotiating with the governor.

So could you, not right this second, could you double check my math and get back to me —

Jiha: I could double check, Sure.

State Senator Krueger: Because I think if we say we're giving the city 29 percent, whether you think it should be 50 percent or not, and we could discuss that, I think we're not giving you 29 percent. I think we're giving you much less. Even though I understand that with the growing migrant population, as the mayor has pointed out, we really don't know what the total numbers will be three months down the road or a year and a half down the road.

But it seems to me we ought to have a fair and honest conversation about the percentage the state is picking up regardless of how many people are or are not coming in. Obviously we don't want more people in the shelters. We don't want people in H.E.R.R.C.s, and if they go down we'll all be celebrating. But I think we need to establish that there is a percentage, we've committed to it and that's what we actually ought to be paying you. So getting back to me with more math will be helpful. So thank you.

Quickly jumping —

Mayor Adams: Always impressed me how you were just deep into those numbers.

State Senator Krueger: Well, she's called the Ways and Means chair and I'm called the Finance chair for a reason, but thank you. I'm sorry, I had a long list and I want to try to get to a couple of more.

Oh, so in the presentation we received from your staff, Mr. Mayor, they did say the charter school, if they were to grow, would cost you a real $1.3 billion a year. So I understand your points about you have to educate children somewhere, but apparently the proposal of the governor really would dig into your school budgets.

And as you've already pointed out, because of the law that we passed on class size, you do have continued responsibility for some growth in the cost of education. And I just, again, think that we should all try to be on the same page of why this is an extremely expensive proposal for the city of New York.

So, I didn't want to say you and your staff were saying different numbers, but I do believe that the briefing that we received referenced an increase of over a billion dollars a year if that charter school proposal the governor moved forward. And I also share the opinion of my colleagues that I don't think this is in the best interest of the city.

Oh, I have one minute left. So, as someone who I know knows far more about policing than I ever will, you've set up a new system where we get on our phones or perhaps our cell phones every day, every action taken by a precinct. It's a little, you know what I'm talking about, the little alerts come in. They never report a crime being solved.

I'm sure there are crimes being solved, but I actually think it would be helpful if that information also came to us. Because you sometimes read these and think, "Oh, there's never a solution. Nobody ever catches a criminal. Nobody ever gets somebody off the streets that supposedly has done various things that we get reported every day."

So could you potentially ask them to add that to the information we're getting? Because I don't think you're telling the full story of the N.Y.P.D. and perhaps are even skewing our opinions.

Mayor Adams: Well thought and I love that. And we're going to incorporate that because their close rate is at a record level. Many of the bad guys, they have been removing and arresting. And it's really impressive when you look at what they have been doing and we're going to incorporate that.

State Senator Krueger: I appreciate that. And my time is up, so thank you very much.

Mayor Adams: Thank you.

Assembly Member Weinstein: We go to Assemblyman Fall for three minutes.

New York State Assembly Member Charles Fall: Thank you Madam Chair. Mr. Mayor, thank you for being here. And I just want to highlight something before I get into my comments and questions.

Since you've been in office, you and your team have been incredibly responsive to any request that I have sent your way. You always pick up my call. So I just want to publicly thank you for that. And also want to thank you for adding another Staten Islander to your team. Always good to have someone across the harbor from Staten Island.

Public Safety is a big concern. My district consists of Northern Staten Island, Lower Manhattan, and a little bit of Brooklyn. And public safety is very important in all three parts of my district. And on the Staten Island side, we're noticing a decrease in the head counts for the police officers that we're seeing at the 121 precinct and the 120 precinct. So we would like to have some help and support there because of course the more resources that they have, the better it is.

On the Manhattan side of my district, we're seeing an issue with thefts. So we had an issue where a Rite Aid had to close down. And this Rite Aid in Battery Park City, a lot of 9/11 survivors rely on the pharmacy. There are now it's closed as a result of the thefts that we're seeing across the city. So I'm hoping that the city will have a plan to help protect some of these stores in my district, but across the city because that's very important, especially in that part of Lower Manhattan that has had impact in the past.

As far as the homelessness, we have similar issues on the Staten Island side and the Manhattan side. Would love for your team to be on top of that. I know there are times where it goes away for a little bit, then it comes back. It's very inconsistent. I understand it's a citywide issue, but that is an issue that is constantly brought to my attention from folks in the district.

As far as infrastructure, one of my concerns with Lower Manhattan, I'm sorry, with Staten Island is the flooding we've seen. I know you and former senator have visited a number of sites and I just curious to know what's your short term and long term plans in addressing some of these infrastructure issues on the Island?

Mayor Adams: Yes, clearly under this administration, Staten Island is not the forgotten borough. We've been out on Staten Island a number of times, both former Senator Savino and I looking at those sites. There's a real plan of shoring up our shorelines and what we will do is have our team come in and sit down and give you the full analysis of some of the projects that we are going to put in place on Staten Island, and partner with you to get the resources we need on the state level as well as what we're going to put in on the city level.

Assembly Member Fall: Gotcha. And I appreciate that. And just to quickly close. Lower Manhattan, we have a number of resiliency projects that are taking place. The state is doing some, the city's doing some. And my concern is the projects are not talking to each other.

So I've asked for a comprehensive plan. I really haven't gotten a clear answer on that. But we just want to make sure that if government is spending money on keeping that area safe, that we're doing it in such a way that makes sense and we're not missing any gaps. And just would love to have you support for the Bus Rapid Transit, the B.Q.E. and 5 World Trade Center and that is all, Madam Speaker.

Assembly Member Weinstein: Thank you, assemblymen. We go to the Senate.

State Senator Krueger: Well, actually the Senate is closed for the moment, but a few others are trying to get over here. Thank you.

Assembly Member Weinstein: Okay, so we go to Assemblyman Tannousis.

New York State Assembly Member Michael Tannousis: Good to see you Mr. Mayor.

Mayor Adams: Always. Thank you.

Assembly Member Tannousis: As you can see, Staten Island is very well represented in the assembly between these two gentlemen.

Mr. Mayor, I want to ask you about those 2,000 or so recidivists that are wreaking havoc on our streets. Clearly there has been an issue with those 2,000 individuals being that they are continuously being led out into the street.

Now, Mr. Mayor, obviously you were a New York City police officer. I myself was a former Bronx prosecutor. So I'll be the first to tell you, obviously there were issues with the criminal justice system. My question to you, Mr. Mayer, is assuming we have the right people on the bench, do you feel that we need an increased judicial discretion?

Because Mr. Mayor, would you agree that no two cases are alike, no two defendants are alike, no two victims are alike, and an increase in judicial discretion would be able to prevent a lot of these recidivists from continuously committing crimes and not showing up to court?

Mayor Adams: I've always stated that I believe that we should have some type of judicial discretion. But I'm also clear that we need to look at the totality of the criminal justice system. Underfunding defense attorneys, the shortage in district attorneys, the amount of cases going through the court system. And if we don't take a full approach, and even the feeders to some of this violence, something that Speaker Heastie raises all the time, we need to look at what are some of the feeders.

Now, a report just came out recently that stated out of all of the cities, New York is doing more for upstream solution than any other city. We are putting more into preventive actions than any other city. So I'm a supporter of giving a judge more discretion, but I'm also a supporter in addressing the totality of the criminal justice system and the problems we're facing.

Assembly Member Tannousis: Thank you very much. I yield back my time.

Assembly Member Weinstein: Thank you. So we're going to continue with Assemblywoman González-Rajas.

New York State Assembly Member Jessica González-Rojas: Thank you, Mr. Mayor.

Mayor Adams: Thank you.

Assembly Member González-Rojas: According to your 2024 budget, you proposed eliminating 773 unfilled jobs within the Department of Social Services, which oversees the Human Resources Administration that processes S.N.A.P. food stamp applications. According to the D.S.S. Deputy Commissioner Jill Berry, there were 50,000 applications for S.N.A.P. in October of 2022, which is a 60 percent increase during the same month in 2019. Berry also said that more than half of the food stamp applications, 53 percent, were not processed within the required 30 days in fiscal year 2022. Can you share what your administration is doing to address this issue so that our neighbors don't go hungry?

Mayor Adams: First, it's not acceptable that anyone has to wait. That is unacceptable, and as the mayor, I take full responsibility for that. There's several things we must do. We have to stop using antiquated methods on processing applications. My team has been ordered to put in place, how do we expedite these applications? Far too many come in that are either automatically disqualified for one reason or another. There's no reason we're going through a lengthy process to tell someone they're disqualified. We can do a better job by using Marion Technology and employees to resolve this issue.

And the cut in personnel there, we still have a substantial number of positions that must be filled. And again, we did a job fair this weekend, a hiring hall, where over 800 people showed up. My call is to my lawmakers. I need for you to do an analysis of your districts, see where you have a high unemployment and partner with us and do a hiring hall in your district so we can fill these jobs. We have about 27,000 vacant jobs when you have double digit in some areas, double-digit unemployment. That just doesn't balance out. We need to get New Yorkers employed again and get them back into these offices so that we can expedite things like S.N.A.P. and (inaudible). We were able to get an extension, but that's not enough for me. We should not need an extension and we are going to resolve the issue of this backlog.

Assembly Member González-Rojas: Yeah, and what is sort of the immediate response? Because I hear your job positions could take time, that technology could take time, but we still have our neighbors going hungry. So is there any really immediate steps to address this backlog?

Mayor Adams: Again, for a person as a child that needed S.N.A.P. benefits, I know what it is not to get them on time. It's the difference between a meal or not a meal and a difference between having some of your basic needs met. We will address this backlog.

Assembly Member González-Rojas: Thank you, sir.

Assembly Member Weinstein: Thank you, continuing Assemblywoman Simon.

New York State Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon: Good morning, Mr. Mayor. How are you?

Mayor Adams: Quite well, yourself?

Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon: Good, good. So I want to thank you for being here today. I have a whole list of things. I'll never get to them. I'll leave off the ones I disagree with you on.

Mayor Adams: You're a good person.

Assembly Member Simon: But first I want to thank you again for your work on dyslexia and invite you again to Dyslexia Awareness Day on May 17th, and also ask for your support of my bill with Senator Myrie, that we screen folks who go into our correctional facilities and provide them with the supports they need because if they're going to be successful when they get out, they need to read, as I'm sure you know, as well as my bill addressing the way we train our teachers in higher education, which is where the problem starts. But I also wanted to talk to you about a couple of things with regard to the B.Q.E. and funding and how we can really make this work a little bit better. There are significant issues, some of them are funding issues clearly. We want to be supportive of the city's application, but we need to make sure that application actually is in the shape it needs to be in when it's submitted. So I really appreciate your administration working with us on that.

I also want to get to this issue of housing, and Harvey talked about it with the basements. And that is when you look at where those floods occurred, it's because we have no capacity in our sewer system, and it is where the sources of the underground streams were. And this is throughout the city that was mostly in Queens during Ida, but we need a hydrology study. It's going to be not inexpensive, but it is the kind of thing we need, clearly have been asking for it in the Gowanus area, which is a critical issue. And so, I'd like to get your reflections on the need for that because we are just building ourselves into more and more and more disasters as we go, and our sewer system needs a lot of work. So please if you could address that. Thank you. I know I used my three minutes. Go ahead. You got time. You got 51 seconds.

Mayor Adams: No, no. And I agree with you, and we both know the capital needs of building out our sewer system is not something that these major floods are going to wait on. So we need a short-term, middle-term and long-term plan and everything from a hydraulic system to looking at how we are doing our resiliency projects along our shore lines and looking at what are other countries doing to manage the flow of water and overtaking of water? The last storm, which was really shocking to me, was not along our coastal areas where we flooded. So our challenge is no longer the rising sea levels. It is how we're going to ensure the infrastructure inland is also able to handle the heavy flow of water, and we are looking at creative ways of doing that.

Assembly Member Simon: Hydrology study.

Assembly Member Weinstein: Thank you. We go to Assemblywoman Jackson.

New York State Assembly Member Chantel Jackson: All right. Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Always a pleasure to see you. Like everyone else, your team is very responsive. I just want to ask about funding for reducing gun violence with the exception of policing. What else can we do? Can we fund conflict resolution, job placement? What else is there available for us to do besides adding more policing to reduce our gun violence?

I know that we're fully funding Foundation Aid, which is great, but we also are still seeing that Black and brown students, graduation rates can be much higher, and literacy as well can be much higher. And so I'm just wondering what are we doing to take care of those populations?

And I just need to plug that for the Bronx, we need a cleaner Bronx. So I would love to see the D.O.T. machine, I forgot, the sanitation machines, the electric ones in the Bronx. So let's spend some money on that. More cameras for N.Y.C.H.A. My N.Y.C.H.A.s are requesting cameras, especially the ones that are targeted with a lot of gun violence, like Morrisania air rights, which I know you and your team visited. So cameras for them and creating more green spaces like Crotona Park. So I would love to see some money being placed into that.

But can we talk about what we are doing to fund programs and other things besides policing for gun violence, as well as graduation rates and literacy rates?

Mayor Adams: Deputy mayor, you want to go into what you're doing with the gun violence task force and some of the stuff we're doing around it?

First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright: Sure, the mayor has convened all city agencies really starting in June to come together and really put together a comprehensive plan to deal with all of the upstream issues including housing, education, economic and workforce development, small business development, sanitation. And we are targeting the six precincts that contribute to 30 percent of gun violence in the city, and they're predominantly in the Bronx and in Brooklyn and are engaged in community meetings on the ground and those neighbors and communities to contribute to those plans. And that's something we want to do in partnership with the state in terms of what those investments because as we all know, those communities have not gotten the kind of focus that they need, and they're absolutely going to get it in this administration.

Assembly Member Jackson: Thank you. And then we can talk a little bit about graduation rates for Black and brown students and their literacy rates? What are we doing to increase both?

Mayor Adams: The chancellor and I joined him yesterday. He has a version of CompStat, which was used in the police department to do precision policing. He has a version of that. He's going to start doing it weekly with his superintendents. It will be included in principals, and I would encourage some of you to come and sit in and look at those meetings because they're zeroing in on those rates. They're not waiting for the end of each semester to determine there's a problem, and they're zeroed in on those numbers that you're talking about.

Assembly Member Jackson: Okay. Thank you, Mr. Mayor.

Mayor Adams: Thank you. How's your little one?

Assembly Member Jackson: He's always doing well. Thank you.

Assembly Member Weinstein: We go to Assemblyman Eachus.

New York State Assembly Member Chris Eachus: Thank you, Madam Chair. Thank you, Mr. Mayor, for being here and for your testimony. Not only do you look sharp, you are very sharp. I'm going to make a statement first, and just to let you know where it's coming from, I was 40 years a high school teacher. I was in the classroom and so on like that in both private and public school, and I've also experienced the creations of these charter schools and I would love to talk with you at any time about how inherently these charter schools are discriminatory. And I certainly would not be increasing the cap, nevermind the financial aspect of it, but I want to let you know that that's what I'm going to do.

M.T.A., kind of going along with what Senator Krueger asked, my district is Orange and Rockland County. We're paying payroll tax and receiving literally no services. Not happy about that. But my question is, since it's a state agency, shouldn't you be asking us to kind of restructure the entire M.T.A., not just worry about wage increases and so on like that because we're talking about hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars year after year after year?

Mayor Adams: No, and I agree and I think that that is part of the deliberation process that the state is going to go through. The M.T.A. is a statewide entity, and just as when I served here, we knew that there was some issues we had to do structurally with the M.T.A. and I think that still stands true today.

Assembly Member Eachus: Okay, thank you. The final thing that I have that I'd like to talk to you about, you mentioned, are electric vehicles. Again, my experience is, I have been building actual electric vehicles, racing them with kids cross country and so on like that, won national awards, very proud of my history with that.

However, the one thing that I noticed is that we're encouraging electric vehicles without the proper education for the folks as well as for our emergency services folks. What happens when these things get in an accident? I'm sure you're aware that the batteries are completely encapsulated. They can't get to the batteries if a car or, God forbid, a bus with school children gets in an accident. And there really is at this point, no education for those folks out there, and I'm hoping that you will join with us to create an educational system where we can teach not only the people that purchase these but also the emergency services. And I'd like to put that bill on the people that are selling these vehicles, not on us.

Mayor Adams: Well, a good point. Two things that you stated that resonates with me. Number one, I would love for our team to speak with you about what you're doing with children around electric vehicles because I think we should build out a pipeline. As this green economy grows, the opportunity should grow for those children that were ignored. And the fire commissioner, Commissioner Kavanagh, she's looking at the battery issue in its totality, and so we would love to talk with you about that.

Assembly Member Eachus: Thank you.

Assembly Member Weinstein: Thank you. We've been joined by Assemblywoman Zinerman and Assemblyman McDonald, and we go to Assemblyman Sayegh for three minutes.

New York State Assembly Member Nader Sayegh: Thank you very much, Madam Chairwoman. Mayor, welcome to Albany.

Mayor Adams: Thank you.

Assembly Member Sayegh: Mayor, like my colleague, a lifelong educator, and for me, diversity is crucial. And New York City is a hub of diversity, not only for the state, but for the entire nation. And today is crucial because in your role as mayor, your input and your positions on issues play a major role. Many of the members spoke earlier about Diwali, and Chancellor Banks already indicated that a very special build that's already sponsored by Assemblywoman Rajkumar and also Senator John Lee is before us. And if this bill is voted and you're in a position to support the extension or the Diwali holiday in the school system, we wanted to know if you would do so and really allow New Yorkers to continue to show respect for the traditions and religions and the cultures of what makes New York great.

Mayor Adams: Yes, yes. I'm very excited about the opportunity. When we met with advocates last year, Chancellor Banks, I have to take my hat off to him. He knew we were bumping up against the limitations of school days. He found a creative way to do it through the Brooklyn-Queens Day. And if we get it out of the lawmakers here, we are going to be encouraged to say that the lawmakers understood the power of diversity and acknowledging all of our desires to celebrate our heritage. Andrew, in my Greek contingent, they joked about the desire to do so with our Greek contingent, but the more we can do it, the better we are. It just really celebrates who we are, and if anyone can get it done of this state, this body here can get it done.

Assembly Member Sayegh: Mayor, thank you. Also, in addition, we spoke last session about the importance of proposals involved in small businesses in New York, especially in areas of high crime, and many of the bodegas and the small business people, and this was an issue. Y.A.M.A, the Yemeni-American, and the Dominican Associations in New York City have lobbied for, and that is for the establishment of a program with a match in of support that would allow for security and safety cameras in the businesses and outside. This way, it's very helpful for crime prevention and really shows a little bit more support, especially in light of the life support that we lost in the community with many businesses.

Mayor Adams:  We met with our local businesses, our retailers. We had a session at Gracie Mansion, and we are clear that this is a problem that must be addressed by the New York City Police Department.

Assembly Member Sayegh: Thank you very much, Mayor.

Assembly Member Weinstein: Thank you. We go to Assemblyman Mamdani.

New York State Assembly Member Zohran Mamdani: Thank you. Mr. Mayor, in the governor's executive budget, she effectively proposes to raise the fare from $2.75 to $3. Do you support that proposal?

Mayor Adams: No. We're going to evaluate whatever we could do to keep the fares currently. Low-income New Yorkers, they don't use the subway system as a form of luxury. It's a necessity, and as a MetroCard holder, I know how important it is.

Assembly Member Mamdani: Thank you. And just a followup question then, would it be safe to assume that you support the legislature finding a different source for that $245 million a year that raising the fare would create?

Mayor Adams: Yes, I do.

Assembly Member Mamdani: Thank you. Moving on, last year when I asked you at this very juncture if you would freeze rents for the one million rent stabilized apartments across New York City, you told me quote, "Let's freeze the rent of the tenant, but let's give support to small property owners as well." Then the legislature allocated $2.2 billion for homeowner tax relief and $1.1 billion for landlord relief in our budget. And in response, your Rent Guidelines Board raised the rent up to 5 percent. That hike is the largest in nearly a decade, more than anyone since Mayor Bloomberg, who ran as a Republican. Will you commit this year to freeze the rents for rent stabilized apartments as your predecessor did in 2015, 2016, 2020, and 2021?

Mayor Adams: Well, I think if you go back and do an analysis of that period of time, there was a proposal to increase, I believe, to 9 percent. And you know and I know that that board operates on its own. I don't control the board, and when I appoint people to boards, I appoint them to use their deliberation powers to do what's right for the people of this city. That's how I run my boards and my appointments. I don't meddle. I appoint and I take a step back, and I don't interfere.

Assembly Member Mamdani: Okay, well, that's a disagreement between the two of us because I view any appointment in your administration as an extension of the policy of your mayoralty. And since you have the ability to appoint everyone within the Rent Guidelines Board, that's where I see it as your responsibility, but thank you.

Mayor Adams:  That's rather interesting because when we appointed through the P.E.P., the reason we did fix appointments is because we were stating we don't want mayors' influence on the decisions that people make. We can't have it both ways. I appoint, I take a step back, and I allow New Yorkers to do what's right for New Yorkers.

Assembly Member Mamdani: Thank you. And with my last 35 seconds, I just want to follow up on Assemblywoman Gonzalez-Rojas' questioning. So around the Human Resources Administration, which falls underneath your administration, we have 1.7 million New Yorkers relying on food stamps. As you know, food stamp requirements state that applications must be processed within 30 days. One thing that is troubling me is that in the previous mayoralty in fiscal year 2021, 92 percent of applications were being processed within that time period. But in your mayoralty, it dropped to 60 percent, and it has gone to the extent that four of those New Yorkers who have outstanding applications have filed a class action lawsuit against your administration. So I really very much encourage you to stop allowing New Yorkers to starve and start bringing back the processing times that we expect in this city.

Mayor Adams: Thank you for your analysis.

Assembly Member Weinstein: Thank you. Well, throughout the day there'll be some questions, not necessarily to you, Mr. Mayor, but to others who are here, that both needs some follow up on. So we'll make sure to get follow up, and any follow up questions will circulate with all of the members here. We go to Assemblyman Ra, five minutes for ranker on ways and means.

New York State Assembly Member Edward Ra: Thank you, chair. Mayor, thank you for being here. I always have to start on a light note and say it's great to have a Met fan as the mayor of New York City again, and hopefully this is our year and it ends with you presiding over some type of celebration in City Hall. I want to ask about N.Y.P.D. staffing, and in particular, as you know, there was a report back in the fall regarding response times for crimes and other emergencies. And I'm just wondering where are you in terms of staffing in the N.Y.P.D., and is there any plans for additional classes and that type of things to increase the force?

Mayor Adams: Well, I think it's a combination, and when you look at the, as I stated, almost 27,000 jobs, we have about an 8 percent vacancy in New York City government. The City Council has about 14 percent. The controller's office has 14.5 percent. Every corporation that I sit down and speak with across the country are talking about the availability of employees. That has also hit our public's law enforcement police agencies across the country, including New York, are dealing with the employment issues.

So what are we doing? The first deputy mayor put in place a full frontal approach to recruitment. We have been resting on our own ability to have people come to us. We can't do that anymore. We have to go out and actively recruit, and that includes the Department of Correction officers, police officers, people who are with hospital police, and we are putting in place a real campaign to diversify the department and bring on more police officers. But with the agency numbers that we have now, we still have been able to decrease shootings in our city by double digits, homicides in our city, remove 7,000 guns off our streets. Our officers are responding, and we are going to continue to increase our ranks.

Assemblyman Ra: Thank you. And I know you've mentioned both within your testimony today and your plan that you recently unveiled regarding backlogs of criminal cases and getting those cases resolved so people can get justice and in particular the discovery end of it and those burdens that have been on our prosecutors and our law enforcement. So do you have any thoughts related to community courts? Is there somewhat of a solution there in expanding those, in helping move some of these cases through?

Mayor Adams:  Love them. The Red Hook Criminal Justice Court is a real winner. I think we should duplicate that throughout the city, if not the state. It's a good way of not being heavy-handed. I advocated for it when I was a state senator, the borough president. I visited the court several times. I think it's a great, great way to deal with those, particularly non-violent, low-level crimes.

Assemblyman Ra: Okay. And then just one last question, and this dovetails a little bit into what my colleague Mr. Tannousis was talking to you about. Obviously we have the main proposal related to bail in this budget is this least restrictive language. Do you think that's sufficient, or is there more that needs to be done to fix that law from your point of view?

Mayor Adams: I think there's a number of things we can do, and I outline some of them. Number one, we have to really consider the hemorrhaging of lawyers. We are at a dangerous level. We're losing attorneys in the district attorney's office. We're losing attorneys as defense attorneys, and justice is being able to have your rightful time in court and having the right counsel to do so. So we have to do a real analysis of what our criminal justice system has been failing for a long time. I probably visited Rikers and spoke with correction officers and inmates more than any mayor in history to see the bottom of the problem, what I like to say, the downstream problem. If we want to go upstream, then we must make sure that we can get cases through the court system and make sure that those who are dangerous, repeated, extreme recidivists are not allowed to return to our streets.

Assembly Member Ra: Thank you, Mayor.

Mayor Adams: Thank you.

Assembly Member Weinstein: So mayor, I am next. And first I have two questions from my colleague who is not a member of the committee, so I'd like to ask on Assemblywoman Zinerman's behalf. With current issues with public safety and low academic achievement of New York City scholars, we were encouraged to hear about your plan to make free space available to qualified non-profit agencies, which gives students more time for academic rigor and keep them in a safe and secure environment. Can you explain the process to accessing space and tell us when the initiative will be rolling out?

Mayor Adams: I believe your colleague is talking about the extended use of public school builders. I was able to do this as the borough president. It really shocks me that at 7 a.m. we tell our children, "Welcome to the school," at 3 p.m., "Get out and don't come back until the next day." Schools don't belong to one individual. It is part of the resources of our communities. And so we believe we should open the schools where we are going to pick up the cost for the school safety agents, for insurance, for cleaning the building. Nonprofits should be using their sweat equity, not trying to figure out how to pay for the school building. These are public resources and they should be used. The chancellor’s currently put in place a procedure that is going to allow these nonprofits to come in. We can use the gyms, the pool rooms, the school office spaces. It's a real win-win, and he's going to roll out the exact procedure for access.

Assembly Member Weinstein: Great. And a question that I share some support of, I guess, I have at least two community gardens in my district. So I understand that the Senate has advanced a bill to give community gardens free access to water, and we're wondering if the city is in support of a program that would provide free access to water so downstate urban farms can continue to grow healthy foods and support your healthy food initiative.

Mayor Adams:  And that's the goal. I don't think it's lost on anyone that I'm probably a boring person to have dinner with because I'm always talking about healthy food nowadays, but we are really looking into leaning how to be proactive around access to healthy food, urban farming, rooftop gardens. This is something that this administration is really proud of, everything from the plant-powered Fridays to meatless Mondays to the healthy food options in our hospitals. They're now on a default menu and we're finding overwhelmingly the number of people who take that default menu keep that default menu. It's about really being proactive in how do we address our healthcare crises, and how do we look towards food? And we're going to be rolling out more initiatives around access to healthy food and urban farming in our communities.

Assembly Member Weinstein: Thank you. And now an issue that I've been very concerned with. If you follow the news, you know that Medicare Advantage plans have been roundly denounced by consumer advocates as a bad bait and switch. I represent many retired city workers who, like others, are struggling to keep up with inflation. Yet despite the court decisions in their favor in the City Council last month not voting in support of legislation to push this plan through, it does seem that the city is still committed to move ahead with the plan to force retirees who cannot afford the $191 a month, not really a choice to switch to Medicare Advantage plan. I wonder if you could address what the city's plan is at this point.

Mayor Adams:  And I tell my retirees all the time, when they talk about their healthcare plan, they talk about my healthcare plan. I'm a retired cop and I'm not going to do anything that's going to endanger the ability of those who are on fixed income or have already contributed to our city. We should make sure that they have the healthcare that they need. We met with the union leaders two weeks ago, and we're all committed to finding a way of how do we deal with this increased cost in healthcare without taking away those benefits from our retirees? And we're going to accomplish that task. We're still in negotiation to find those savings, and they are very eager to join us in accomplishing that task. And they're clear, medical costs are through the roof. Really we need to look at the real differences in how it costs to get some of the surgeries that we're seeing. How is this impacting on the bottom line of all of our unions and all of our civil servants and really non-civil servants?

Assembly Member Weinstein: Right. Obviously it's the existing unions. Are you looking at alternative ways to fund the stabilization fund and to give retirees a real choice that they can stay on Medicare without having to pay this additional monthly fee, close to $2,000 a year?

Mayor Adams:  Yeah. There are two R.F.P.s that are out, and those R.F.P.s are now being looked at by those unions that represent other members. They were doing analysis and will come back to the table, but we are all committed to finding the right healthcare savings. But there are two R.F.P.s that are out currently.

Assembly Member Weinstein: I look forward to staying in touch with folks in your administration so that I can reassure my constituents that they can receive the healthcare they need without being forced to pay extra.

Mayor Adams: Well, that's why we have former Senator Diane Savino, who's a longtime labor leader and an advocate for many of these issues. She's keeping a close eye on this.

Assembly Member Weinstein: Good, because I know that there often is that push and pull between existing current city workers and retirees who don't have that same seat at the table. That's something, when I chair government employees here in the assembly, I've sponsored numerous bills to ensure that the retirees retain the same health benefits that current workers have. So thank you for continuing to work on this issue. I believe that…

State Senator Krueger: Unfortunately, there's so much other things going on at the moment in the capitol. I am the representative for the Senate for the continuation of the hearing. So thank you very much for being with us.

Mayor Adams: Thank you. Good to see you.

Assembly Member Weinstein: Yes, thank you, Mr. Mayor. See you back in Brooklyn and the city. And thank you to your staff for being here.

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