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Transcript: Mayor Adams Releases FY24 Executive Budget and Holds Q-and-A

April 26, 2023

Mayor Eric Adams: Good afternoon. Great things are happening in New York City. We're taking strides toward a greener, more prosperous and just future. Jobs at a near record high, our city is safer than it has been since the pandemic, and tourism is booming. We are supporting working families, connecting our young people with good paying jobs, making our city safer, and helping New Yorkers suffering from serious mental illness. Now, it is our responsibility to maintain New York City's forward momentum. Our fiscal year 2024 executive budget prioritizes our Working People's Agenda and keeps our city working for the benefit of all New Yorkers. It does so while addressing some of the storm clouds gathering on our horizon, including billions of dollars in new costs, we're able to balance this year's budget using better than expected revenues and by achieving savings and making government more efficient.

Making government efficient is not an exercise for its own sake. Instead, doing so allows us to spend more resources on improving the lives of working people. We also balanced the budget responsibly. Because we had set aside record levels of budget reserves, we were able to apply some to closing budget gaps and still have billions of dollars set aside for rainy days. This budget also preserves hundreds of millions of dollars and investments that we have made since I took office. That includes funding for affordable childcare, a record 100,000 summer youth jobs, and money for schools that lost enrollment.

Make no mistake, this $106.7 billion executive budget protects those investments, preserves essential services and continues to improve the lives of everyday New Yorkers. Almost 60 percent of this budget, $62.5 billion in total, goes to education, healthcare, and social services. As mayor, I'm committed to protecting what matters most: the health, education, and safety and wellbeing of our people. But the challenges we face are real and our continued progress is threatened by something beyond our control. 

The costs of the asylum seeker crisis. In the last year, we have provided care and shelter to more than 57,000 asylum seekers who arrived in our city seeking refuge. Many were bused in without advanced notice from other states. This is an ongoing crisis. Yesterday alone, nearly 500 asylum seekers arrived in New York City looking for a place to sleep. That's 500 people. An entire hotel, an entire shelter. And right now, more than 35,000 asylum seekers remain living in shelters and in humanitarian relief centers. We expect this population will more than double and hit over 70,000 by June 2024. We expect to spend $1.4 billion this fiscal year on the asylum seeker crisis and $2.9 billion in the next. That is $4.3 billion by July 2024, just 15 months from now. Based on our latest discussions, we are optimistic that the state budget will include as much as $1 billion in aid. In addition, we are projecting $600 million in assistance from the federal government out of the $800 million it has made available to localities nationwide.

We are grateful to the New York congressional delegation for their efforts to secure aid. Elected officials like Leader Schumer and Leader Jeffries are fighting hard for us. But even if our optimistic projections are met, state and federal aid will cover just under 40 percent of our cost, leaving New Yorkers to pay the rest. And unfortunately, the prospect for additional federal aid or congressional action on comprehensive immigration reforms are slim given that far-right Republicans control the House. We crafted this budget with full awareness of asylum seeker costs, labor settlements, and other gap widening needs.

Earlier this year, we settled long-expired labor contracts with DC 37 and the Police Benevolent Association. These contracts set the pattern for wage increases across the city. Paying our workforce a fair wage is one of my priorities. It puts more money in the pockets of working families and help us recruit and retain top talent.

However, along with the funds we already set aside in the labor reserve, we had to add another $16 billion across the financial plan to fund the labor deals for the city's workforce. The outcome of state budget negotiations will also impact the city's finances. We know that our partners in Albany are working hard to protect the city from having to shoulder major cost shifts, and we thank them for their efforts, but we will still prepare for New York to bear some extra cost in the final budget that could open a budget gap we have to address at adoption.

In addition to the fiscal challenges I have just described, the national economy and our tax revenue growth are both expected to slow. The national economy is cooling dramatically compared to the growth of the last few years, and the country's labor market growth is in decline. Here in New York City, we see mixed signals, though the local economy is strong overall. We're still adding jobs faster than the nation and state, and we keep hitting new milestones. We have regained nearly all of the jobs lost due to the pandemic. And private sector employment is now at more than 99 percent of pre-pandemic levels. We're just 11,000 new jobs away from a historic high. There's even more to celebrate. Tourists are back and booking more hotel rooms than we've seen in years. I see them on the subway. They're going to Broadway shows and eating at the world's best restaurants. Theaters are back to over 90 percent of their pre-pandemic audiences, and our hospitality sector has recovered nearly 90 percent of lost jobs.

This is a city with swagger. Great museums, nightlife, and shopping, and everyone wants to be a part of it. But even as our economy has recovered, some key drivers of city revenue are slowing down. This will create significant challenges in future budgets. Wall Street drives income growth in our city and it is the source of revenue that funds a large part of our budget. We benefited from several years of record growth, but when Wall Street profits decline by 50 percent, we all feel the pain. Commercial office vacancies remain at a record high level, which impacts our property tax revenue, the city's single largest source of taxes. Just as we transformed the Financial District into a vibrant live-work community 20 years ago, we must transform our city by converting older, vacant, and underused offices into housing. This will boost small businesses, protect good jobs, and create thriving neighborhoods. We're working hard to ensure that office conversion legislation is passed by the end of this session.

Meanwhile, the housing market is seeing some softness. Home prices are expected to decline this year because of interest rate hikes. We expect to recover in the out years of the financial plan, but the lack of activity in the shorter term means fewer resources for the city. As a result of these trends and additional new costs, we must budget wisely. In crafting the executive budget, we face a substantial challenge. Funding $10 billion in an added cost over two fiscal years without cutting core needs, laying off employees, or raising taxes.
As I said earlier, we face $4.3 billion in asylum seekers costs over fiscal years 2023 and 2024. Raising wages for our workforce requires that we did $4 billion across this fiscal year and the next. We're also investing $1.8 billion to fund agencies’ expense changes and provide our people with care, education, and the promise of an even better New York City. To fund these added costs and at the same time protect our priorities, we asked agencies to dig deep and find savings. As they have in the past, they found ways to save taxpayer dollars without layoffs, furloughs, or cutting services.

We also applied better than expected tax revenues from business, personal income taxes, sales, and hotel taxes. And as is the city's custom when the fiscal year comes to an end, we use reserves to help balance. These only impact reserve levels in fiscal year 2023 and not those that are baseline for fiscal year 2024. We had to make tough choices in this budget. We had to negotiate competing needs. We realized that not everyone will be happy, but that is okay because that is how you get stuff done. This is important. That is how you look out for everyday New Yorkers.

Our fiscal year 2024 budget is balanced at $106.7 billion. That is $4 billion more than it was in January. Growth is driven by the course of labor deals that help working people in the course of caring humanely for asylum seekers, out year gaps at $4.2 billion, $6 billion, and $7 billion over fiscal years 2025 through 2027.

It is important to note that our city budget has continued to grow over time and our individual agency budgets tend to grow as well. Thanks to strong local economic activity that generated higher than anticipated growth and personal income, business sales, and hotel taxes. We revised revenues upward by $2.1 billion in fiscal year '23 and $2.3 billion in fiscal year 2024. These revenues were crucial to staying balanced in this plan. Though we did a bit better than expected in this plan, we are closely watching slowing growth in the financial plan out years since sluggish growth impacts revenues that support critical city needs.
Savings was also a significant part of the executive budget plan. Just a few weeks ago, we set an ambitious Program to Eliminate the Gap, or a term called PEG. The PEG target about $1.1 billion in each year, starting in fiscal year 2024. We did not set a target for the current fiscal year, though we encourage agencies to generate savings. Every agency hit their PEG targets. However, after reviewing their PEG submissions, we saw that our libraries and the Department of Cultural Affairs could not achieve savings without jeopardizing their core missions, taking away resources that are so important to every neighborhood and community. So, we exempted them from this PEG. That is right, we did not cut a single penny from libraries and cultural institutions in this plan.

And after our savings review process, we also adjusted targets for the FDNY, Sanitation, Parks, Youth and Community Development, the Human Resources Administration, and homelessness service agencies, which is in the midst of dealing with a humanitarian crisis. I want New Yorkers to understand we did not take savings that could threaten these critical services. We did not cut budgets for the sake of cutting. Our goal is always to streamline operations so that agencies can continue to deliver the same or higher level of services efficiently.

The savings accomplishing this budget did not impact services or result in layoffs, and we did not take a dime from our classrooms. Instead of forcing cuts that could hurt New Yorkers, we found other ways to balance the budget so that we can preserve our quality of life and protect the recovery that we have fought so hard for. The PEG was a success, achieving $1.6 billion in savings across the two fiscal years and over $3 billion in the out years. This brings total gap reducing savings over the November, January, and April plans to nearly $4.7 billion over fiscal years '23 and '24. Safeguarding our city's recovery and being fiscally responsible includes maintaining budget reserves that shelter us from the unexpected. In the fiscal year 2024 executive budget, we have maintained $8 billion in reserve, which is a near record high level. While we are using a portion of our reserves to cover the asylum seeker crisis, we cannot allow the crisis to drain our reserves.

We must remain prepared to respond to future challenges. As I said earlier, this budget invests in working New Yorkers while making sure that New York City keeps working for everyone. It protects and maintains our historic investments in childcare, summer youth employment, and affordable housing, while also funding additional programs and services that benefit working families, young people, and those who need extra assistance. We must not forsake New Yorkers from all walks of life who need our help, and we cannot remain a beacon of hope if we turn our backs on people struggling with mental health challenges. We will baseline funding and continue to expand the B-HEARD program. B-HEARD sends mental health professionals and EMS to non-violent 911 mental health calls instead of the New York City Police Department, making sure that those in distress receive the health-centered assistance they need.

We'll also provide telehealth, mental health services for children in shelters because we know that our young people are suffering and still experiencing trauma from the Covid-19 pandemic. And we are honoring the commitments to mental health services that we made in this year's State of the City. This includes telehealth assistance for high school students, increasing the capacity of facilities for peer-led support in high-need areas, and streamlining the process by which people with serious mental illness access services. It's only by assisting those who need our help the most that we can lay the groundwork for a just equitable and prosperous city.

New York City is built on the hard work and dedication of working families. In these difficult times, we must do what it takes to put resources back into the hands of working people. This includes helping families claim all available benefits, including the Earning Income Tax Credit, cash assistance, SNAP, and more. We are bringing more attorneys on board to make sure that our neighbors who rely on government-funded housing vouchers can utilize them without being discriminated against by landlords.

And we're expanding broadband in NYCHA developments so that New Yorkers at every income level can get on the internet. This would allow families to access childcare and other services online through our city's web portals. We're also supporting the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities plan to promote workforce development for New Yorkers living with disabilities, and we are preparing our people for the 21st century jobs by investing in the right education and training. We're integrating climate education into our schools to increase our students' environmental awareness and help get them ready for opportunities in the growing green sector. We are also providing our school food workers with in-depth culinary training to improve their skills and make healthy eating a part of our students' everyday experience. And we are making sure that our students and shelters receive the support they need to be able to continue their education.

We will also support our talented and hardworking students at CUNY. Through internships and mentorships, we can connect them with potential employers and create prosperity across all five boroughs. However, I know from personal experience that sometimes life puts up obstacles you cannot overcome on your own. So, we are providing CUNY students who are forced to give up their studies the help they require to resume their education through the CUNY Reconnect program. 16,000 students made use of this program in its first year. For each student who re-enrolls in college, we have one more New Yorker with a better chance of securing a good paying job. One more New Yorker with a shot at a better future.

Our shared future is built on the principle of justice and equity. New Yorkers voted to create the Office of Racial Equity and the Commission on Racial Equity, and we are making sure that these important entities will have the resources they need to carry out their mission. Their efforts will help coordinate citywide racial equity planning, establish priorities, and track compliance. Racial equity means a safer, healthier, and stronger city for everyone.

And we can't talk about equity without addressing the threat that climate change poses to our city, especially our most vulnerable communities. PlaNYC is our city's strategic climate plan to combat climate crisis and do good for the environment. Whether it is expanding organics collection and composting, maintaining our tree cover, bringing solar power to low-income residents, or building shoreline resilience, PlaNYC provides a comprehensive citywide strategy to increase resilience, protect our infrastructure, and save lives. And it is rooted in practical, actionable steps that we will get done.

We're also using capital funding and long-term strategic planning to reimagine our city. The $164.8 billion 10 year capital strategy is a long-term look at our infrastructure planning and financing. It sets out a vision for bettering our city over generations.

We'll expand the Department of Sanitation collection fleet so that we can implement our first citywide curbside organics and composting program. This will improve sustainability across all five boroughs. We'll also invest in more than half a billion dollars to redevelop the CUNY Brookdale campus and create a world-class Science Park and Research Center. This will generate billions of dollars in economic impact, lead to thousands of good jobs, and confirm New York City's role as a global leader in public health and life sciences. In addition, we're making improvements to schools citywide because our students deserve the best possible facilities in which to learn and grow. Time and time again, New Yorkers have shown courage and grit in the face of adversity. 

We're proud of our city's economic recovery, our near record, high job numbers, and the rebound in our tourism industry. We're proud that our administration is preparing our young people for the future, supporting working families, creating affordable housing, providing access to good jobs, and improving public safety. New Yorkers know that to thrive in this city, you need to be able to adapt. This administration will continue to respond quickly to changing conditions and adjust costs as needed. Our compass will always be our people, and this budget ensures that we can continue to get stuff done for New Yorkers and for our city now and in the years to come. Thank you, New Yorkers.


Mayor Adams: So why don't we open to a few questions here with my team. First Deputy Mayor Wright, chief of staff, my intergovernmental affairs, Tiffany, who has just been doing an amazing job in Albany on the federal level, and Jacques, the keeper of taxpayers’ dollars.

Question: [Inaudible.]

Mayor Adams: How are you doing, Mike?

Question: I'm good, I'm good. So on the libraries, this has been the subject of much conversation this morning. The question I have is how can you say that not a single penny was taken from them when the PEGs prior to the last one cite upwards of $30 million of cuts, those prior PEGs?

Mayor Adams: So that we understand what this exercise was for, every agency on all three PEGs. We had three PEGS, and those of you who covered the campaign remember I talked about this on the campaign. I said I would be doing PEGs. That's the beauty of this administration. Everything I said, I'm doing. So New Yorkers had an opportunity to say, "Okay, this is what the candidate Adams said he was going to do. This is what candidate Adams is doing — Mayor Adams. So we said we were going to do PEGs to find efficiencies." Each round, we stated no layoffs and you can't cut back in services. And every time we had the participation. And once those PEGs came in, the Program to Eliminate the Gaps, once they came in, Jacques and his team did an analysis and said, "Okay, is this going to impact services?"

And once they did a definition if it would or not, we made a decision. Okay, we reached our number, we wanted to get to $1.2 billion. I think we got to $1.4 billion. We reached our number, now let's look and see who we can hold harmless and let's see who we can put money back partially. We held libraries and Cultural Affairs harmless in this round of the PEG because they were saying, "Eric, we are going to have to close down on Sundays. We got to do some other things."

We also looked at the FDNY, we looked at the Department of Sanitation, we looked at the Department of Parks, we looked at the Health and Human Services. So we then went back to say, okay, we can hold folks harmless on this one. That is not to say if we get what we're seeing, we just got close to 400 migrants and assignment seekers here. If this continues and when Title 42 is lifted, Jacques has to go back and redo these numbers. But that is what we meant. On this round of PEG, they were allowed to be held harmless.

Question: Mr. Mayor, how are you doing?

Mayor Adams: How are you, Marcia?

Question: You made much in your speech of the fact that you did all these PEGs with no layoffs.

Mayor Adams: Yes.

Question: But according to the comptroller’s reports there, every agency has an average of 20 percent vacancies.

Mayor Adams: Yes.

Question: So are you balancing this budget thinking that you're going to have to… You're going to fill those vacancies or are you going to leave those spots empty because you can't afford to pay for them?

Mayor Adams: Okay. So first I'm hoping someone covers that there's a national crisis on employment. I don't know why people try to think this is a New York City crisis. I speak to my mayors in London, all over the globe, there's a crisis in employment. So what we did, we looked at the number of vacancies per agency and we stated that we are going to take a percentage of those vacancies. There are still vacancies that are there that we are filling. For the first time, Deputy Mayor Wright had every agency do an analysis of the hiring plan that they did in 2022 and that they're doing in 2023. Ironically, 90 percent did not have a hiring plan in 2022. We all have it now. We are partnering with City Council members to host hiring halls. We are seeing almost upward to a thousand people at these hiring halls. We're filling those vacancies. Now, we have an agency that needs more. We're going to give them, we're going to open up new lines for them to do so. But right now we need to fill the number that we're looking for.

Question:  [Inaudible] partial freeze because you're not filling all these positions that you could fill if all those lines were there.

Mayor Adams: No, it's not a partial freeze. And I don't want to insult the men and women of this city who, based on the national and global crisis of employment, are not still delivering services. We're still delivering services. We're still doing the job of… We are down almost 1,000 police officers. We're still driving down gun violence. Department of Sanitation is still doing their job. Deputy Mayor Williams-Isoms and her team, even with the inundation of the asylum seeker crisis, they're still doing their jobs. So these civil servants are still doing their jobs while we try to fill those backlogs, those vacancies.

Question: One thing I don’t understand.

Mayor Adams: Yes.

Question: If you could fill all those jobs, would you or would you leave some of them vacant as a budgetary [inaudible]?

Mayor Adams: Well, that's like hypothetical. The role is we are telling our commissioners, "Here's the vacancies that you have. Let's fill them. Let's look at those high need areas that you're having that really need people to fill." And we are getting ready to shift to do some new things that I believe is going to get more efficiency by using technology. We can run our city smarter and better, and that is part of the goal that we are going to accomplish with our chief technology officer.

Question: Hi, mayor. How are you?

Mayor Adams: Good. How are you doing? Where have you been? I've not seen you.

Question: Yeah, it's been a little while.

Mayor Adams: Okay.

Question: Thank you. As far as libraries go, are you insinuating that the decision to hold them harmless in this PEG had nothing to do with the public blowback that the cuts had received? This was purely a financial decision and the political public climate here had nothing to do with it?

Mayor Adams: Well, okay, now, you guys, some of you have been with me since my administration started. Has there ever been a day there has not been a blowback on something? Everything you do… This is a city with 8.5 million New Yorkers, 35 million opinions. New Yorkers are always going to share their thoughts. I have been a supporter of libraries since my days in the state Senate. If you would speak with each one of the heads of libraries in general, but specifically in Brooklyn, they would tell you how much of a friend I am to libraries. I know the need of them. They're a great equalizer. Their access to resources. I don't like having to find efficiencies in any of my agencies.

And when I speak to my city councilperson, they're not only talking about cuts to libraries, they talk about cuts to every entity. And we tell them the money that's coming in must meet the money that's coming out. We looked to see which areas we could hold harmless, what areas we can give back to, and what areas we have to draw the line and say, "No, you have to do the cuts," including New York City Police Department and Department of Correction.

Question: You gave the budget to the City Council. I'm curious what you're hearing from them because there was such a gulf before in terms of money they thought was projected and money you think is projected. Is there any reconciliation here?

Mayor Adams: And we have adjusted, we are close to the same predictions and dollar amounts. What they failed to do in many of the independent budget analysis, no one wants to factor in the asylum seekers costs, and we're honest about that. We can't create budgets that's leaving certain things off the table. We're factoring that in, the asylum seekers costs. And so Jacques looked at the revenues generated. We did better than we thought in certain areas, but at the same time we had to factor in the asylum seeker costs, and we have to be honest about the fiscal forecast in the future.

Question: First question, the $16 billion that you said in here were set aside over the life of the plan to settle the outstanding labor contracts, does that $16 billion include the cost of the PBA contract amd DC 37? Or is that… It does, it's not just the separate ones that are outstanding? And secondly, I know the state budget is, it's the latest that it's been in a decade. And you've said that Kathy Hochul is your friend and your partner in governing, but has the delay in getting you what you need among other things sort of shaken your confidence in her ability to lead the state in any way?

Mayor Adams: I am not a fair-weather friend. Good friends walk in the room when others walk out. Governor Hochul has been with us. When we went to her and stated we need to stabilize our subway system, she allocated $60 million to allow us to have cops be on the subway system. The results of that has been amazing. 4 million riders, we peaked last week, one day last week. I speak to my corporate leaders, they state that, "Eric, our employees are willing to come back to work." They're feeling safer, customer satisfactory surveys are up. We are moving in the right direction in crime. And so many other things.
I've gone to the governor. She says she has been there, so you can't… That's not how you treat your friends that you negotiate. I believe that Speaker Heastie and Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, their One House bills looked at those issues that were important to us, particularly the over $500 million in the MTA and as well as the EF map out dollars. So the negotiation still is going on. Albany will do Albany, and we are cautiously optimistic that the governor and the leaders up there, as well as our delegation up there, is going to do what's right for New York City.

Question: Mr. Mayor, how are you doing?

Mayor Adams: Okay, how's it going?

Question: Not too bad.

Mayor Adams: Nice suit and kicks. You're sharper than anything right now.

Question: I was wondering, you planned to receive $600 million from the federal government next year for asylum seeker costs. I was curious if you have any information beyond the application you filed that would give you the confidence you're going to [inaudible].

Mayor Adams: The $800 million that Senator Schumer and Congressman Jeffries was able to secure through FEMA is going to come in several layers. The first layer is $300 million. We put in our application for the dollars, we're waiting for how they're going to officially roll it out. We don't know yet, so we are remaining optimistic that the reality is that no other entity in the country is receiving the level of asylum seekers that we are receiving. In fact, as they've become a pass through, they're leaving other cities. Coming across the border, leaving other cities, but ending up in New York. And so, we are hoping that FEMA does a real analysis to say we need to put the money where the need is. And right now that need is New York City.

Question: Okay. If I could quickly follow up, I was just curious, you talked about a lot of the sort of gets to the budget, the costs, asylum seeker costs. Are you disappointed you don't have that money to spend on any issues you want to do? And if you did have more money, what would you want?

Mayor Adams: Yes, yes, yes. You do an analysis of what we inherited. Go back… I know sometimes you do a job so well that everyone has amnesia. I don't know if y'all remember what the city was January 1st, 2022. There was uncertainty. We wanted to keep our schools open. People were yelling, "Close the schools, close the schools." We gave parents discipline and focus and clarity. That's the trademark of this administration: discipline, focus, and clarity. Parents knew your children are going to be in school. We did it. We cycled out of the economic downturn that we were experiencing. Out of nowhere, we got hit with the asylum seekers issue. You don't see children sleeping on streets like you're seeing in other municipalities. We have the best service to those who are coming to this city than anyone.

We saw encampments all over the subway system. We all saw them. They are no longer there. We saw encampments all over our streets and people pushed back when I said people deserve better decency. And so if I had $4.3 billion, I'm able to do some great things for the city. But in spite of that, this team managed a very difficult moment in New York City's history. And if we had the money, if we didn't have this hanging over our heads, we'd be able to do so much more. There's a lot of things we wanted to do that we can't do because of that. And we need to be clear. If Title 42 is lifted and we see a double or tripling of the number, we have to go back to the drawing board. New Yorkers must understand that we are in the middle of a humanitarian crisis, probably never has been viewed again in this city.

Question: Mayor, some immigration advocates have raised concerns over some of the language you've used to talk about how the asylum seeker influx is affecting the city.


Mayor Adams: See how I always defend you?

Question: You're my guy. [Laughter.] And you talked about this a lot in your budget presentation, about the effect, the money. And I'm wondering, you were in D.C. last week, you talked how about asylum seekers were destroying the city. People took offense to that language. I'm wondering, how do you respond to that, your use of that language and talking about the effect of the asylum seekers that are having on the city financially?

Mayor Adams: Two things. One, I was in Washington, D.C. saying allow the asylum seekers to work. The issue is not the asylum seekers, the issue is the fact that the national government is not doing its job. And so, if people want to play word police and don't know my heart by now and what I have done better than any other municipality, then let them do that. But I don't see any of them in Washington. Why aren't they in Washington? Why aren't they speaking in Washington, D.C. saying, "Give this administration and this city help?" So it's easy to sit on the sideline and throw a stone. A rock is not a plan.

I need all these people who believe we are not doing a good job, join me on Wednesday nights at 9 pm when I'm giving our food to asylum seekers. Join Norman Siegel when he's moving around the city recruiting to get people to volunteer. All of this tweeting and calling us names from their mommy and daddy basement of how bad we are. Listen, stop. This is an all hands on deck moment. So all those who have better ideas, come and join this team. There's a lot of help that's needed. And then, if you want to pick apart the emotion of watching my city being destroyed, if I'm too emotional in doing that, well maybe because I love the city too darn much.

Question: Mayor Adams, just briefly, you alluded to some electronic, or I guess efficiencies, technological advances that could, you said, create more efficiencies. Do you want to give a little bit more details? Would that replace jobs? And what agencies do you see that need to create more efficiencies?

Mayor Adams: Okay, first of all, I didn't say replace jobs, that was your term.

Question: No, but I was asking [inaudible].

Mayor Adams: Okay. No, there are things we are doing like call centers. Call centers could be utilized better with technology. When I call my bank, my bank doesn't have a call center. Everyone that calls, I don't get a human that picks up, but I'm able to get my question answered. And so, we are scanning the globe on efficient ways to run cities. Procurement, how do you use everything from our dogs to go in to check buildings collapse? How do you use drones? We are going to be looking at how to you use bots, we're going to hold a major summit on bots, BOTs. So we are not going to leave our city while other municipalities are becoming innovative.

We have a unit that specifically is assigned to emerging markets and innovation. That's all they do. They don't get caught up in the day-to-day crisis. They're scanning and interviewing new technology so that we can run our city more efficient. Our city should be leading the way and we're not, we're following everyone else. And I'm not going to do that as the mayor. The mayor, we are going to lead in technology and running a more efficient city. And we're not going to be afraid. We're swinging for the fence. And so, what if we strike out? We are not going to go home and say we wish we would have.

Question: Mr. Mayor, you're talking a lot about…

Mayor Adams: Bernadette.

Question: Hi. [Laughter.] You're talking a lot about cost control, but why within the last three months did spending go up by $3 billion? You're the one who's negotiating union contracts, can find efficiencies with the PEGs. Some of these agencies missed the PEGs, and were they penalized? Why were costs got… Why didn't they get under control? Why did spending go up within FY 23?

Mayor Adams: First of all, no one missed the PEG. Everyone responded to the PEG. 

Question: [Inaudible.]

Mayor Adams: OMB made a determination. We've stated from the beginning, everyone would participate in the PEG, everyone. And then we made the determination that, okay, based on our analysis, this is what we are going to hold harmless for it and this is who we are going to give some back to. But every agency participated in the PEG. We got on a call with all of our commissioners and I stated, "I don't want anyone telling me that we're not. Everyone is going to participate." So I want to get clear on that.

And when you look at the contracts, PBA went years without a contract, DC 37 employees have been underpaid. Let's be honest about this. They've been underpaid. And I was not going to be a blue collar mayor, former DC 37, my mama was a DC 37 worker. Knowing how difficult it is, we want to put them on the frontline, but we don't want to pay them accordingly to retain them. That's why we are losing people. And so this is an investment into our workforce and investment into our people because when you pay your people well, they go spend money in the communities. They're able to do their job without the stress of knowing that they can't afford what they're doing. So this was a smart decision to pay people accordingly.

Question: Even though costs went up despite…

Mayor Adams: Costs went up. Asylum seekers, respecting our union contracts, and also other services that our agencies are providing.

Question: Hi Mr. Mayor.

Mayor Adams: How are you?

Question: Good. How are you? A question for you. The state budget remains unresolved as we speak right now. You talked a lot about in your presentation. How's that impacted your administration's ability to provide a balanced budget and looking forward, if the state doesn't provide the funding to your level of expectation, would you look at other efficiencies, other PEGs?

Mayor Adams: Sheena played such a role in building out… Which side is Sheena on? Building out our team, and she looked through leading my transition team. One of the most important person we brought on board was Jacques. He has helped us to lay out this budget and he has pointed out that… Here's how we could adjust it just in case we get some surprises from Albany and we don't get everything that we need. Then we have to go back and then our budget model is going to have to reflect that. But we're going to be cautiously optimistic. He and his team, they're looking at all of these numbers and they're making sure that we are making the right decision for this time. But as you stated, we don't know what's going to come out of Albany. I have good conversations with the leaders up there and the members who are fighting on our behalf and we're looking forward… And we look at the one house bills that came out of Albany. It is clear that they understand we can't dump everything on New York.

Question: Mr. Mayor, for the agencies that were held harmless and were given some back, how did you exactly determine which ones would be included in that?

Mayor Adams: We looked at the service… Remember we said, the PEG cannot take away services or do layoffs. And we didn't just have people say, well, everything we do is going to decrease services. No, we did an analysis. And to the credit of the commissioners, when Camille brought them all together and spoke down with the commissioners and directors and everyone, they all know where we are. They all see what's happening. No one came forth and said, no, I'm not going to participate. No. Those commissioners and their teams, their leadership, they know the challenges. We have been very transparent with our team and have communicated with them. They understood. We did one call with all the commissioners. Jacques did a presentation and said, "This is where we are." And they all stood up and did the right thing. And so everyone participated in the PEG. Then we did an analysis. Where can we pull back on? Culture, libraries, what we want to do in FDNY. What do we want to do with our Parks? Our Human Services. So that's how we made the determination based on Jacques' analysis and his team.

Question: Hi Mr. Mayor.

Mayor Adams: How are you?

Question: Good. I wanted to go back to libraries.

Mayor Adams: Yes.

Question: So the libraries say they still have a $36 million hole, and if it turns out that they have to reduce some service on weekends, Saturdays and Sundays, are you willing to live with that or would you be willing to step in with a budget modification that allows them to keep Saturday and more importantly Sunday hours?

Mayor Adams: The entire… Every agency, every agency can give you an analysis of how the PEGs will impact some of the things that we want to do. Every agency. You are not going to be able to tell me one agency that's not going to say this is something I would like to do. And if we get the help we need, we can go back and say, okay, you can do some of the things you'd like to do. But we are at a Maslow’s hierarchy of needs moment. Food, shelter, clothing. That's what we are. And everyone that's saying just spend, spend, spend, we would love to. We must ensure the continuation of the economic stability of the city. And I would love for my libraries to have all the things that they want. We help them harmless under this PEG. We don't know what the future is going to hold. But I'm a believer and supporter in libraries.

And I just want to point out one more thing, and I always drive my team crazy when I go off record, but this has been on my mind for some time. You got that, Katie? This has been on my mind for some time because I hear a lot of people… I was talking to some City Council members the other day and they was talking to me about NYPD's overtime. NYPD's overtime. And so I said, "Is it that you dislike overtime or you dislike the NYPD?" Because I never hear them talk about overtime in any other agencies. We have overtime in all the agencies, I have overtime. But no one gets riled up with overtime in Parks, overtime in HRA, no one gets riled up in overtime anywhere else but the New York City Police Department.

Now, if I were to go to you and say, "Give me the number to H + H," you'll scratch your head. If I say, "Give me numbers to HRA. Give the number to Parks," you scratch your head. But all of you know the number to the police. You all know 9-1-1.

So the agency that starts its day of saying, I may not come home tonight. The only agency in this city that if gunshots go off, they're required to go respond towards it and not run away from it. The only agency that if there's a bomb placed somewhere, they have to go and detonate it. The only agency that no matter what happens, can never turn its back. We all focus on them. That's all we focus on. NYPD. So is it anti-overtime or is it anti-police?

And if it's anti-police, shame on us. Shame on us. In the 60… No, no, no. This is a conversation that we need to have in this city. These men and women put their lives on the line. Rivera and Mora is not coming home anymore. They placed their lives on the line. And so if we want an analysis about overtime, what's the bulk of that? $60 million came from the state to help us stabilize our subway system, which is part of our financial stability. If we want to analyze overtime, then let's not just talk about police. I think the anti-police rhetoric has displaced and used this excuse overtime. And I'm not going to sit back and say to men and women who place their lives on the line every day that we're not going to give them the service and support they need. So the real question is is it anti-overtime or is it anti-police? I'm not anti-police.

Question: Mr. Mayor, rumor has it that you have appointed Jimmy Oddo to be the Buildings commissioner. Could you talk about that and why you picked him?

Mayor Adams: Do y'all got some sources working inside the administration? Listen, you know the rule. When we appoint, we announce, and we have not appointed yet, so we don't have an announcement to make. When we appoint, we announce.

Question: Are you denying you're going to name him?

Mayor Adams: I'm acknowledging that I love Jimmy. I think he's a smart councilperson, he's a smart administrator, and I'm happy to have him as part of my administration. I'm sure Deputy Mayor Meera Joshi would say what a win he is, but once we make an announcement of who's going to fill a position…. We have a number of positions that we're going to be filling. We're getting ready to roll out our deputy mayor of strategic initiatives soon. So when we appoint, we announce. We're excited about these appointments.

Question: Mr. Mayor, it's been reported recently that young adults, teenagers who had been sleeping at drop-in centers for the homeless and runaways since about five years ago, that the city changed the policy; no longer allowed to sleep there. And I'm wondering why that shift in policy and do you approve of that shift in policy? Especially since there are only about 45 beds available for young adults in the city, and most people believe it's better to have them in the drop-in centers as opposed to sleeping out on the streets.

Mayor Adams: I'm a little baffled because I recall standing at this podium when the advocates said that, "Why you let people sleep in drop-in centers?" So are we saying children and families should not sleep in drop-in centers but children without their parents should sleep in drop-in centers? That's not making sense to me. The rule is, by the state, and my corp counsel make me follow the law, that that is not a place that is a shelter.

Now, if the advocates are now saying it's okay for children to sleep in drop-in centers as long as they don't have their parents with them, then they need to say that because I'm not going to follow that. The law is clear. Here's what a shelter is. Here's what a drop-in center is. I'm going to follow the law, and I know you're not telling me to break the law.

Question: Mr. Mayor, back to the Albany budget situation, on the MTA specifically, it sounds like negotiations are working out to New York City businesses would have to pay a higher payroll tax but suburban businesses would not. I'm curious if you think that's fair, if that impacts New York City competitiveness in any way. Do you think the suburbs should pay their fair share here?

Mayor Adams: We don't know what the outcome is going to be with the MTA, but I don't believe New York should ever be treated differently. I believe at the first version of the budget, there were various areas where New York was treated differently. New York City is the economic engine of the state and we should be treated with the level of respect that comes with being the economic engine. We don't know what the final outcome is. We know it was unsustainable to have us pay over $500 million a year.

Question: Hi. Yes, Mr. Mayor. President Biden announced his reelection bid. You're a surrogate for him. There is some concern over his age. I'm wondering what's your reaction?

Mayor Adams: Well, I don't know who said that I was running for office. I think it would be disrespectful for Biden to talk about the limited age that DeSantis has. I think his age and experience is the right thing we need right now, and he has not done that. So I'm happy the president has not attempted to use all of the experience and wisdom to look down on the fact that DeSantis doesn't bring that same level of experience.

His age is excellent. We need the wisdom. We need the skill set. We need the experience. This president has navigated us out of these difficult times, and for anyone to say to an octogenarian or someone who's a senior that you need to pack it in because you do not fit the criteria that people think based on age, that makes no sense. Listen, people are able to do their jobs, and he's able to do his job, and I'm happy that he's deciding to run for reelection.

Question: Are you going to the Knicks game?

Mayor Adams: Huh?

Question: Are you going to go to the Knicks game?

Mayor Adams: [Inaudible.]



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