This Tuesday, Mayor de Blasio’s administration and the City Council reached a final agreement on the City’s budget for fiscal year 2018. It’s the earliest budget deal in nearly 20 years.
As you may remember, NYLCV released a budget memo outlining our priorities for the year. Over the past month, we urged our members to call and email their City Council Members to advocate on behalf of these issues. Here’s how our priorities fared:
*The City Council restored funding for 150 parks and maintenance workers who help with gardening and keep our local community parks clean. This is great news, although we would have preferred to see it baselined in the budget, as park maintenance is not seasonal, and these positions are needed every year.
*We asked for a $15 million citywide expansion of the Health Bucks program, a successful initiative that expands access and affordability of healthy food to New Yorkers. While we did not get exactly what we’d hoped, we’re proud to see that Council Members Torres, Salamanca, Cabrera and Gibson used their discretionary funds to expand the program in their own districts.
*In addition, we used the budget to push the city further towards its goal of zero waste, stating, “If we are to reach our goal of zero waste to landfills by 2030, the City should invest $3 million in public engagement around the organic waste and recycling programs available to millions of residents.” With the help of our members, we made that happen with a commitment from the Administration to bolster its outreach along with an investment of $3 million for ‘A Greener NYC’, a City Council initiative that supports environmentally friendly programs that encourage education, advocacy, and community service that improves the conservation of our air, land, energy, and open spaces.
*Last, but certainly not least, we teamed up with GrowNYC to support the construction of a new Regional Food Hub in the South Bronx. The Food Hub will allow them to connect fresh, healthy food grown by local farmers to more New Yorkers citywide, in addition to growing their critical food access programs like Food Box and Youth Markets. With the help of our members we sent over 500 messages to City Council in support of the Food Hub, and secured a $5 million investment for its construction.
We are thrilled to once again see a city budget that supports environmentally friendly programs, especially food access programs that are beneficial to overall public health. Thanks to all of the NYLCV members who raised their voices and took the time to advocate during this important budget season.