Once again, New York City Mayor Eric Adams faces legal challenges — this time a lawsuit filed by the United Federation of Teachers seeks to block the mayor from slashing the city’s education funding.
"The reality is these cuts are going to cause real harm to our students, to our families," said Michael Mulgrew, UFT president. "We're asking you to stop this political gamesmanship and really be there on behalf of the people of New York City."
Adams plans to make two additional 5% cuts across city agencies next year in January and in the spring.
The UFT complaint reads in part that "the approximate $547 million in immediate budget cuts to the New York City School District ... together with the further cuts proposed, that may amount to close to $2 billion stripped from city schools this fiscal year and next."
"I know people have spoken to us and they made fun of things and they said, 'Well, maybe they'll get visited by three ghosts over the holiday,'" Mulgrew said. "But let's be clear, we can't count on three ghosts visiting the mayor and his administration."
The lawsuit also accuses Adams of violating state law which prohibits the city from cutting education funding unless overall revenues decrease — which the UFT says did not happen.
The complaint says "the cuts are being made at a time when the city collected nearly $8 billion more in revenue last fiscal year than was anticipated."
A recent analysis by the city’s Independent Budget Office shows the city will end the 2024 fiscal year with a budget surplus of $3.6 billion. But the IBO analysis goes on to say that to keep the 2024 budget balanced, the forecast for the 2025 budget would have a $1.8 billion shortfall.
While the IBO and teachers union says the city is in surplus, the mayor’s Office of Management and Budget disagrees.
The teachers' suit comes a week after DC 37, the city's largest public-sector union, sued the mayor and his administration for not following the proper procedure in planning to cut an estimated 2,300 job training positions represented by the union and replacing them with privately contracted workers.
On Thursday, Mayor Adams defended his actions.
"From time to time, friends disagree. Sometimes it ends up in a boardroom and sometimes it ends up in a courtroom," Adams said. "I'm hoping that all of my union leaders will add their voices to the national government this should not be happening to New York City."
The mayor says he is looking to the court for a legal resolution with both union leaders.
"When we need the court to determine what the next steps forward are, we will have to go to court and do that," Adams said.
The mayor has repeatedly argued that the cuts in city spending are necessary to alleviate the continuing rising costs of the migrant crisis hitting the Big Apple.
The complaint argues that the mayor’s claim that $11 billion is necessary to address the migrant crisis over the next two years is "an unverified estimate."
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