Mayor Adams Has a Message for Albany: We Need More Money

ALBANY, N.Y. — Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams have prided themselves on the close alliance they have built over the past year, joining forces as like-minded Democrats on some of New York’s most pressing issues, from public safety to affordable housing.

On Wednesday, however, their working relationship could be put to the test when Mayor Adams travels to the State Capitol to push back against a series of proposals that Gov. Kathy Hochul unveiled in her $227 billion state budget proposal last month.

Testifying in a joint legislative hearing, Mr. Adams is expected to ask state lawmakers for significantly more money than Ms. Hochul has proposed, to confront a worsening migrant crisis in the city. He is also expected to reiterate his disagreement with the governor’s plan to shore up the subway system’s finances, which would require that the city contribute $500 million annually.

All in all, the mayor is expected to lay out what he sees as a bevy of unfunded mandates proposed by Ms. Hochul — from the removal of a cap on the number of charter schools to a shift in Medicaid costs — that City Hall says will saddle the city with hundreds of millions of dollars in extra costs.

The mayor’s testimony in Albany is an annual rite of passage, known here as Tin Cup Day, during which mayors trek to the State Capitol to, on many occasions, plead for more money and more favorable treatment from the state. The yearly pilgrimage typically serves as an opportunity for local officials to air grievances, sometimes exposing tensions between the city and state.

The mayor, who relied on Ms. Hochul to pass some of his priorities in Albany last year, including changes to the state’s bail laws, is not necessarily opposed to the governor’s underlying policy proposals. Indeed, Mr. Adams has commended the governor’s plan to boost the construction of affordable housing and her proposals to tackle the city’s mental health crisis by freeing up hundreds of psychiatric beds.

It has mostly come down to differences over the dollars and cents, with the mayor calling for more money from Albany, arguing that Ms. Hochul’s proposals could significantly strain the city’s finances.

Mr. Adams has particularly bristled at Ms. Hochul’s proposal for the city to pay $500 million toward the budget of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which is considering fare hikes and service cuts to bridge its deficit and is controlled by the governor. He has said that he was “troubled” by the request and that it could divert money from his budget for “basic services” for city residents.

“We are told to pay half a billion dollars forever,” he said at an unrelated news conference last week. “No other municipality in the state has been asked to do anywhere near that. Only New York City.”

The governor’s proposal would also require the state to invest $300 million as one-time funding, while increasing payroll taxes on businesses and diverting some tax money from new casinos to raise revenue for the transit agency.

“Governor Hochul’s executive budget makes transformative investments to make New York more affordable, more livable and safer, and we look forward to continuing to work with the Legislature on a final budget and with Mayor Adams to support the services that New Yorkers rely on,” Hazel Crampton-Hays, a spokeswoman for the governor, said in a statement.

The governor has also proposed $1 billion over two years to address the tens of thousands of asylum seekers arriving in New York City. But city officials have raised concerns that the state’s commitment may only amount to about one-third of all shelter costs, according to an internal memo from City Hall obtained by Politico.

The governor has defended the amount allocated to reimburse the city for the costs of housing asylum seekers, noting that the cost would be split evenly among the city, state and federal governments.

In his first year as mayor, Mr. Adams was frustrated by Albany and faced anger and skepticism from some lawmakers. He requested a four-year extension of mayoral control for New York City schools, but he received only two; he pushed for the renewal of a tax incentive program known as 421a, but it was allowed to expire. Mr. Adams was also upset about a law that was approved to reduce class sizes over the next five years that he said the city could not afford.

Even so, Mr. Adams has pointed to other successes, including an expansion of the city’s speed camera program, earned-income tax credits for poor New Yorkers, more funding for affordable child care and a new public trust to help pay for repairs to public housing.

“We had some real victories last year,” Mr. Adams said recently in an interview on NY1.

On Tuesday, Mr. Adams repeated his calls for state lawmakers to make it easier to detain “extreme recidivists” — a term he has increasingly used when referring to bail reform laws. At a news conference about a crackdown on gang members in Queens, Mr. Adams said that he planned to talk to state lawmakers about the roughly 1,700 people who are responsible for most of the violent crime in the city.

“If we zero in on those 1,700 to 2,000, you’re going to see a substantial decrease in some of the violence that we are witnessing,” he said, “and that is my message to the lawmakers in Albany.”

The hearing on Wednesday is part of the state’s annual budget process, which is expected to culminate with a final agreement between the governor and state lawmakers by April 1.

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