(Bloomberg) -- New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said he’s presented a plan to the City Council to shift about $1 billion from the police department to social programs.
The issue, coming a day before the city’s June 30 budget deadline, may remove a major obstacle in negotiations because City Council Speaker Corey Johnson has insisted on cutting that amount from the NYPD’s $5.9 billion budget.
The mayor proposed a $95 billion municipal budget in January, then reduced it to $89.3 billion in April, as the virus forced a lockdown that obliterated billions of dollars in tax revenue. His latest budget, he has said, has been pared down to about $87 billion.
The fiscal crisis spawned by the economic shutdown -- and the protests erupting in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis -- have presented the city with “an unprecedented opportunity to change some things,” de Blasio said.Over the weekend, he said, his office presented the council with a plan that also proposes $500 million in capital spending be diverted from the NYPD to youth recreation centers and public housing -- separate from the $1 billion shifted from operating expenses. De Blasio said Police Commissioner Dermot Shea supports the changes.
The NYPD budget cuts were denounced by Patrick Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association representing rank and file officers. He said the mayor and City Council “have surrendered to lawlessness.” An activist group, Communities United for Police Reform, also attacked the plan, saying the city’s elected leaders resorted to “budget tricks that are protecting and giving special treatment” to the department.
The mayor declined to give details of where the police cuts would be made, pending a formal agreement with the City Council, which must come by 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, the end of the fiscal year.
“We have a plan that can achieve real reform, real redistribution, while at the same time ensure that we can keep our city safe,” de Blasio said. “We can do this. We can strike a balance.”
The cutbacks are being negotiated as the city sees the biggest increase in shootings in at least 20 years. “We have to make sure we can handle that,” de Blasio said.
The police department’s current budget is $5.9 billion, and the mayor’s plan for the next fiscal year had already reduced department spending to $5.6 billion. He didn’t say whether those cuts were included in his $1 billion in savings.
“Negotiations continue,” de Blasio said. “They’ve been very productive. I’m very hopeful where they are going.”
(Updates with union and activist reaction in 6th paragraph.)
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