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Teacher’s Union to take legal action against NYC Mayor Eric Adams for budget cuts

New York City’s teachers union is taking legal action against Mayor Eric Adams, seeking to block planned cuts to the city’s public schools.

Mayor Adams has proposed steep budget reductions, including a $550 million cut in education funding, citing the need to offset rising costs associated with New York’s migrant crisis.

However, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) filed a lawsuit in state court, alleging that the mayor is exaggerating the city’s fiscal challenges to implement an illegal and unnecessary austerity measure.

The basis of the lawsuit rests on a state law preventing New York City from reducing school spending unless there is an overall decline in revenues.

According to the UFT, the city exceeded revenue expectations this fiscal year. Therefore, the mid-year education cuts, expected to impact universal prekindergarten, after-school programs, and special needs students, would be illegal under the current circumstances.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew expressed concern about the potential impact of these cuts during a news conference, stating, “This is going to become difficult and ugly. We have never had an administration try to cut their schools when they have historic reserves, and their revenues are all up.”

Mayor Adams, a moderate Democrat, has faced criticism and a drop in poll numbers since announcing multibillion-dollar budget cuts last month. The proposed cuts would affect various municipal services, including reduced hours at public libraries, elimination of parks and sanitation programs, and a freeze on police hiring.

The UFT lawsuit adds to the mayor’s challenges, with the city’s largest public sector union, DC 37, already pursuing legal action to stop the cuts.

Addressing the legal challenges at a news conference, Mayor Adams sought to downplay the situation, emphasizing his close relationship with the two influential unions.

He stated, “From time to time, friends disagree. Sometimes it ends up in a boardroom and sometimes it ends up in a courtroom.” While acknowledging that the cuts would be “extremely painful to New Yorkers,” Adams urged residents to hold the White House accountable for not providing sufficient aid to address the migrant crisis. He also warned that deeper cuts might be necessary to address the projected $7 billion budget shortfall in the coming fiscal year.

An analysis from the Independent Budget Office contradicts the severity of the fiscal crisis portrayed by Mayor Adams. According to the agency, the city is expected to end the fiscal year in June with a surplus of $3.6 billion, resulting in a more manageable budget gap of $1.8 billion for the next year.

The UFT cited this estimate in its lawsuit, asserting that Adams’ depiction of the city’s finances is “calculatingly foreboding” and not based on reality.

The teachers union contends that the mayor’s actions are driven more by “a ‘crisis’ of budget management, leadership, and problem-solving” than by an actual influx of migrants to New York City. This accusation challenges the narrative that the proposed budget cuts are a direct response to the costs associated with addressing the migrant crisis.

The legal battle between the UFT and Mayor Adams highlights broader tensions over budget priorities and fiscal responsibility. The union argues that education should not bear the brunt of the cuts, especially when the city’s revenues have exceeded expectations.

The lawsuit aims to protect key education initiatives and prevent what the UFT characterizes as an illegal and unjustified reduction in education funding.

As the legal proceedings unfold, the outcome will not only impact the city’s education system but also shape the broader conversation about budgetary decisions, fiscal responsibility, and the allocation of resources in the face of complex challenges like the migrant crisis.

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Written by Aliyah Collins