A Budget for All of Us

On Tuesday, the City Council voted to adopt an $82 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2017. This budget includes a lot to be proud of both for residents of Western Queens and New Yorkers across the five boroughs. Working together with my colleagues on the Council, we made smart investments and allocated critical resources that will benefit all New Yorkers. 
 
As Chair of the Committee on Cultural Affairs and Libraries, I'm very pleased that this budget includes record increases for culture and libraries, including the baselining of 6 day library service. 
 
In these last two budgets, I'm proud to have led the charge for libraries that has resulted in $43 million being restored. As someone who has worked on this issue for nearly 20 years, I'm thrilled to report that all $343 million in library funding has now been baselined, making 6-day service permanent citywide. In addition, we also invested a record $83 million in capital funding this year alone for much-needed upgrades to library facilities.
 
Along with Minority Leader Matteo and all of my Council colleagues, we pushed hard to have the administration increase operating support to cultural organizations for the first time in 12 years, resulting in an increase of $10 million. If not for our efforts, I believe the $10 million added would not have been possible. But we went even further. Working with my colleagues, this budget includes record increases to Council cultural initiatives including the Cultural After School Adventure Program (CASA), the Cultural Immigrant Initiative, and SU-CASA, which brings artists to senior centers throughout the city. Combined, this adds up to nearly $20 million in new operating support for cultural organizations in this budget. City Council cultural initiatives now stand atover $25 million alone, an all-time high. What’s more, we also invested $130 millionthis year in capital funds for our city’s cultural groups and institutions, allowing them to expand their footprint throughout the five boroughs.
 
This budget is fiscally responsible, setting aside billions of dollars in savings to protect New Yorkers in case of an economic downturn. It makes historic commitments to vulnerable New Yorkers and is a manifestation of our progressive values and commitment to ending inequality in New York City.
 
Additional Major Accomplishments:
·Youth Employment: As part of a remarkable $100 million investment in our city’s young people, we invested funding to create 60,000 summer jobs and 6,000 year-round jobs for NYC Youth
·Immigrants: In addition to the Council’s existing $13.5 million for immigrant services, this budget increases funding for adult literacy services to $12 million, and expands immigration legal services by $3 million
·Seniors: In addition to the $21.4 million the Council allocated for senior services, we also successfully negotiated with the administration to baseline$1.8 million for the Department of Aging for case management services
·Crime: We baselined $22 million for our City's District Attorneys, including resources to reduce gun and violent crime. This is in addition to the $9.6 million the Council allocated for criminal justice services this year
·Food pantries: $4.9 million in new funding for emergency food assistance to keep New Yorkers from going hungry, bringing the total funding for this program up to $16 million
·Vision Zero: $2.5 million for Vision Zero education and outreach to keep pedestrians safe

Arts and Culture

 
As the Chair of the Committee on Cultural Affairs and Libraries, I'm proud to say that after a citywide advocacy campaign, we increased funding for arts and culture by close to $20 million, the first increase in over a decade. This increase will help our world-class cultural institutions continue to provide inspiring and accessible programs. Cultural institutions and organizations from the Museum of Natural History and the Brooklyn Botanical Garden to Dances for a Variable Population and Thalia Spanish Theater here in Western Queens will see a boost from this increase. 
 
We have also allocated nearly $130 million in capital funding to our cultural organizations and institutions throughout the city which will help expand access to culture in every borough. Some highlights include:
·Over $11 million for upgrades to the Queens Botanical Garden
·$16.8 million for expansions and upgrades to the American Museum of Natural History's campus
·$3.9 million for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater to expand and renovate their building
·An additional $3 million towards the new home for the Irish Arts Center 
·Over $1 million for Historic Richmond Town in Staten Island
·$1 million for capital upgrades for Wave Hill in the Bronx
For the third year in a row, the City Council significantly increased funding for our cultural initiatives. These funding increases include:
·$3.1 million increase to the Cultural After School Adventure Program (CASA), which connects students at our public schools to our city’s world-class cultural gems. This program is now funded at a record $11.2 million
·$2 million increase to the Cultural Immigrant Initiative, created by me and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito to support cultural organizations in immigrant communities. The total allocation for this program is now over $5 million
·We increased funding for SU-CASA, a program to connect artists to our city’s seniors, by $1 million, doubling our support for this program to over $2 million

Libraries

 
Over the past two years, we've significantly increased library funding. Last year, we expanded funding for libraries so that all 210 branches in New York City would be open six days per week. This year, we made that increase permanent, so that six day service will be the floor, not the ceiling. This historic increase of $43 million will ensure that libraries are open for all who need them, and brings total funding for libraries up to $343 million—all baselined!
 
In addition, we've allocated $83 million to our City's libraries for capital improvements to fix leaky pipes, install air conditioning, and add library space. This way, children, seniors, and library patrons will be able to read, learn, and take classes in modern, up-to-date facilities. 
 
We’ve also built additional support for libraries into the budget through Council initiatives such as our City’s First Readers program.

Capital Projects in the 26th District

 
In addition to these citywide victories, we’ve also secured funding for numerous projects to strengthen our neighborhoods in Western Queens. These are your tax dollars, and I’m honored to have the privilege of returning them to the community.
 
Some of the projects include:
·With the help of Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, we secured $3 million to purchase and renovate the former Phipps playground to build a beautiful new park for the Sunnyside/Woodside community
·Alongside the Speaker, we allocated $3 million for the second year in a row to complete all funding for the new $38 million Hunters Point Library in Long Island City, the first new, non-replacement library to be built in Queens in decades. This funding is for outfitting, furniture, and materials, and brings my contribution to the library up to nearly $15 million
·LaGuardia Community College will receive $2 million for major capital upgrades to serve future generations of students
·We allocated over $1 million to MoMA PS1 in Long Island City for major capital upgrades, so the museum continues to attract visitors from all over the city.
·Our District’s schools will receive a record $2.8 million for technology and capital upgrades as well as modernization projects
·$1.1 million was allocated for new basketball courts and outdoor play areas for the residents of Ravenswood Houses and Queensbridge Houses
·Joining forces with Borough President Melinda Katz, we allocated nearly $2 million to renovate and upgrade Hart Playground in Woodside, bringing the total funding for this project to almost $3 million
·$300,000 for pedestrian safety upgrades in Dutch Kills, making it easier and safer for pedestrians to get on and off the bus

Organizational Funding

 
In this budget, we also fund organizations that provide vital programs and services to people in the 26th district. Some of the projects and organizations we funded are:
 
·Over $200,000 to help small businesses throughout the district, including increased funding to great business-service organizations like the Long Island City Business Development Corporation, Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce, Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District, Woodside on the Move, Urban Upbound, Queens Economic Development Corporation and the Central Astoria Local Development Coalition
·Well over $300,000 to support programming for seniors, including the Queensbridge Senior Center, Sunnyside Community Services, Emerald Isle, the Big Six NORCIndia Home and the New York Irish Center
·Over $250,000 for Urban Upbound and the Jacob Riis Settlement House to further support public housing residents
·Over $600,000 for cultural programs for District 26 residents provided by groups such as: Dance Entropy, Earsay, Flux Factory, Queens Museum of Art, St. Ann’s Warehouse, Studio in a School, Queens Theater in the Park, Socrates Sculpture Park, Thalia Spanish Theater, the Chocolate Factory, Lincoln Center, Hip to Hip Theater, Ayazamana, Center for Arts Education, Dances for a Variable Population, Queens World Film Festival, Theater of the Oppressed, Film Fleadh Foundation, and Sculpture Center
·Alongside my colleagues in the LGBT Caucus we have increased funding for supportive services for LGBT youth, adults and seniors. These programs are provided by: Queens Community House, Make the Road New York, Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE), Apicha Community Health Center, the Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee, Gay Men's Health Crisis, Parents, Families, & Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, Hetrick Martin, the Chinese-American Planning Council and the New York City Anti-Violence Project, among others
·Nearly $200,000 in funding for supplemental sanitation services that will continue to keep streets and sidewalks clean throughout the district. These funds allow for sanitation services along Woodside and Roosevelt Avenues in Woodside, on 36th Avenue in Dutch Kills and throughout Hunters Point/Long Island City
·We will continue our free anti-graffiti hotline for the 7th year in a row. To have graffiti removed, please call my office at (718) 383-9566
·Over $300,000 for youth programming provided by: Hour Children, South Asian Youth Action, Reading for Smiles, Girl Scout Council of Greater NY, St. Mary’s Winfield Youth League, Corpus Christi, Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens, Child Center of New York, Queens Library, and the YMCA.
·Over $40,000 to strengthen our tenant and civic associations, including theQueensbridge, Ravenswood, and Woodside Tenant/Resident Associations as well as the Dutch Kills Civic Association, United Forties Civic Association andCommunities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together.
·Over $20,000 to encourage investment in our environment through Growing Up Green Charter School, City Growers, Smiling Hogshead Ranch, and Grow NYC.
·$140,000 to Woodside on the Move to provide tenant and housing assistance programs as well as fund their adult literacy and computer training programming, and continue its great concert series in Windmuller Park.
·Over $580,000 for the district’s immigrant communities including funding for:Emerald Isle Immigration Center, Hellenic American Neighborhood Action Committee, Chhaya Community Development Corporation, Catholic Migration Services, and Cidadao Global
·With the help of Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, $80,000 for maintaining theLaGuardia Community College’s Archives and improving the school’s facilities
·Anti-gun violence programming will continue in Queensbridge and Ravenswoodwith $500,000 funding from the City Council's Cure Violence Initiative
 
Many people worked extremely hard on this budget, which reflects our progressive values and invests in New Yorkers. I want to thank in particular Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Finance Chair Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, Queens Delegation Chair Karen Koslowitz, and all of my City Council Colleagues for their hard work to produce this budget. I would also like to thank my staff--Matthew Wallace, Elana Ehrenberg, Kenny Medrano, Amanda Nasner, Arielle Swernoff, Deborah Tharrington, and Andres Villa--who work hard day in and day out to serve the people of Western Queens. They are devoted to the district and help me accomplish so much every day. I am extremely grateful for their service.
 
To learn more about the budget we adopted yesterday, click here to access Schedule C. As always, please feel free to contact my office at (718) 383-4566 or via email atjvanbramer@council.nyc.gov with any questions or concerns about the budget, or any other matter with which I can be of assistance.  
 
 
Sincerely,
 
 
Jimmy Van Bramer