New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Council Member Ben Kallos' Floor Statement Voting NO on City Budget

Coronavirus has claimed the lives of over 21,000 New Yorkers, magnified systemic racism, and blown a 9 billion dollar hole in our city’s budget.

The Mayor’s proposed budget left the NYPD budget largely intact while zeroing out services for youth, families and seniors, a budget that would rather invest in policing our children then caring for them.

Our budget has grown by $24 billion under this administration and we’ve missed an opportunity to trim more than $15 billion in fat. Before eliminating jobs and essential services, we should cut billions in corporate welfare that goes to a handful of our nation’s wealthiest corporations.

When we heard George Floyd plead “I can’t breathe” as he was murdered by police, it opened the unhealed wounds left in our city from the murder of Eric Garner.

New Yorkers took to the streets in the name of Black Lives Matter to demand that we Defund NYPD by $1 billion to invest in communities harmed by over-policing.

Since then, we have received over 125,000 emails and thousands of calls. Frankly, I’ve never seen anything like it.

As a person benefiting from white privilege, it is my responsibility to use that privilege to empower New Yorkers from all communities, particularly voices of color, black voices, and listen when they demand that we Defund NYPD.

As a member of a Council that made the mistake of adding 1,300 police officers and increasing the NYPD budget by a billion dollars, it is our responsibility to right that wrong.

When the Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus Members led our body in a bold statement with Speaker Johnson supporting cuts of at least 1 billion dollars this year, the Progressive Caucus, which I co-chair, stood in solidarity.

The cuts we are voting on today depend on a half-billion-dollar transfer of school safety agents from the NYPD to the Public Schools budget that seems like an accounting trick.

I join the Speaker and so many of my colleagues on the Budget Negotiating Team who fought so hard -- in their disappointment in a budget that fails to achieve our initial proposal.

This is not the transformative change of the NYPD that New Yorkers are demanding.

I vote no on the budget and vote yes on all other matters.

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