New York City's budget was passed this week, and it is a budget that you can have confidence in. The progressive, compassionate budget puts residents first and brings more opportunity to our neighborhood and city. It was reached through a transparent negotiating process that took the voice of every Council Member and community into account in order to serve all New Yorkers.
Here are just a few highlights of the budget that will benefit our city and community:
Revitalizing Open Space in Our Neighborhood
$35 million allocated for the East River Esplanade, a stretch of open space in our district that has been crumbling into the East River. I was proud to secure the funding together with my Co-Chair of the East River Esplanade Task Force Congresswoman Maloney along with Speaker Mark Viverito. The funds will begin to transform the East River Esplanade for improvements to last generations.
Free School Lunch
$6.25 million for a pilot program providing school lunches for free to 170,000 middle school students. As a leader on the Lunch 4 Learning campaign, along with Public Advocate Letitia James and Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito, I hope to see this program expand and help many more children learn. We need free school lunch to keep children healthy and thriving.
Merit Based Scholarships for CUNY
$11.1 million in scholarships for CUNY students to help the next generation thrive. The merit-based scholarships apply to New York City High School students with a B average or higher. Academic scholarships for public college students create opportunities for future generations and promote social mobility, an idea I have long championed. Next year, scholarships of approximately $400 per semester will be available to first-year students.
Safer Streets With More Police
$6.2 million to fund civilian administrative aides for the NYPD, so 200 officers can return to the streets. As the Chair of the Governmental Operations Committee, I am fully committed to spending your tax dollars wisely so our streets can be safer and New Yorkers can be better protected.
Funding for Youth Summer Jobs and Camps
$17.5 million creates 22,000 slot for summer out-of-school time programs, while 10,700 new jobs for teenagers will reduce the opportunity gap. Students will stay safe and learning over the summer.
NYCHA Senior Centers
$17 million to keep 57 NYCHA Community and Senior Centers open, so all New Yorkers can be healthy and independent.
The budget includes funds to support New York City's Universal Pre-K roll-out. I was proud to support Universal Pre-K in New York City as one of the first City Council advocates. Combined with hundreds of millions in state funding, Universal Pre-K will become a reality for many families who need it.
The budget sets aside funds to implement a Vision Zero plan which regards no traffic fatality as inevitable. No pedestrian should die from a preventable collision, which is why I co-sponsored a Vision Zero Town Hall with State Senator Liz Krueger and Council Member Dan Garodnick, and why I fully endorse the plan.
I also allocated funds for neighborhood improvements and community programs. Visit my website to see all of the funds I allocated. Here is a summary:
Resources to Help Seniors Thrive (Council Member Funding)
We must support one another to be healthy and independent. With this in mind, I have allocated funds for senior programming to respected neighborhood institutions such as the 92nd St. Y, DOROT, Health Advocates for Older People, Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, Carter Burden Center for the Aging, Older Adults Technology Services (OATS), and many more.
Resources for Youth to Grow (Council Member Funding)
Afterschool and other youth-targeted programs lay the groundwork for a lifetime of learning and growth. That’s why I was pleased to have the opportunity to fund youth and teen programs at the 92nd St. Y, Association to Benefit Children, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Class Size Matters, Lenox Hill Neighborhood House and many more.
Participatory Funds in our Neighborhood (Council Member Funding - Updated)
This year, I brought participatory budgeting to Council District Five, empowering you to decide how your taxpayer dollars get spent. After the results came in, I funded many more popular projects on the ballot instead of limiting it to $1 million. It is an inspiring truth that when New Yorkers get the chance to vote on funds, we vote to help one another. Some of the projects supported through participatory budgeting include:
Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education in schools, the sectors with the most promising job opportunities for young adults. The funding includes:
- MS 114, East Side Middle School:128 laptops and 8 laptop carts.
- PS 151, Yorkville Community School: Classroom Laptops and Carts- 30 Laptops and a cart per class
- PS 158, Bayard Taylor School: Replace 144 ibooks in 4 carts of 36 each that are now past useful life and cannot run current software. Purchase 144 Lenovo X131E laptops (longer useful life of 6-10 years), divided into 9 carts of 16 laptops each.
- PS 217, The Roosevelt Island School: Technology update to further support the STEM programs that will be incorporated into the curriculum. Need of updated Active Boards, computers, laptops, smart devices including tablets, iPads, chrome books, and document cameras.
- PS 290, The Manhattan New School: One laptop cart with accompanying technology
- PS 183, Robert Louis Stevenson School: 4 Mobile Laptop Computer Storage Carts and Mac Server; 4 mobile carts for K-2 classrooms, 1 Macbook Pro per classroom (13 total), 1 server.
- MS 167, Robert Wagner School: Science lab upgrade for 8th grade classroom
- Manhattan International High School: 30 laptop computers and cart for each of 4 teams of teachers (120 laptops and 4 carts).
- PS77, The Lower Lab School: Two A+ Mobile STEM carts.
- Eleanor Roosevelt High School: Tech improvements: ENO whiteboards with projectors and speakers and 3 carts of laptops
- Bus Time: West Bound Crosstown Bus Stops: Fifteen electronic signs will be installed along the M96, M86, M79 and M66 crosstown routes to tell riders when the next bus will arrive in real-time.
- Bus Time: M31 Downtown & Crosstown Timers: Downtown buses will also receive bus clocks
- A Greener Stanley Isaacs & Holmes Towers: New Gardens: Old planting throughout the residence will be replaced with fresh, vibrant gardens.
- Lexington Houses: New Fridges & Stoves: Out of date fridges and stoves for Lexington Houses residents will be replaced (4 buildings with 448 apartments).
- Robbins Plaza: New Accessible Door: A new accessible door at NYCHA residence Robbins Plaza will help seniors in need throughout the district access their homes.
There's much more to like in the progressive budget, and I hope you will share your thoughts with me. Email me back, tweet me @benkallos, post on my wall at facebook.com/benkallos, or use the phone at 212-860-1950. Let's keep an open conversation about the budget, not just this year but every year.