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Adams budget beats de Blasio standard — but he still needs to up his game



Give Mayor Eric Adams credit for keeping spending growth in the $99.7 billion budget he unveiled Tuesday well below inflation. Yet there’s far more he could’ve done.

Total outlays for the fiscal year that starts July 1 would plunge to $104.2 billion (after accounting for prepayments), down from $109.8 billion this year — a $5.6 billion (5.1%) drop, per the Citizens Budget Commission.

Sounds frugal, right? Except those numbers include federally funded spending (much of it COVID-relief money) that falls from $19 billion to just $9 billion, a $10 billion dip, while budget items paid for with city tax dollars rise from $73 billion to $77 billion — a $4 billion (5.5%) jump.

That increase is still well below the 8.5% national inflation rate, so Adams — unlike the last guy — is no off-the-charts spendthrift. Yet the city sorely needs still-tighter controls.

The mayor himself acknowledges an $11 billion gap for the three years ending in 2027. And though his budget makes modest contributions to the city’s reserves, it spends most of its newfound revenue on pet projects, including adding 3,000 new city positions.

Adams’ plan “takes some positive steps but focuses on spending more, nearly to the exclusion of the savings, restructuring and efficiency needed to shore up the city’s fiscal house,” warns Citizens Budget Commission head Andrew Rein. “Without increasing productivity or shrinking lower-priority programs, the city may be on a path to massive service cuts or harmful tax increases.”

And the progressive City Council is champing at the bit to bloat this budget further still.

The mayor put on quite the show in his Tuesday presentation, yet he also made points New Yorkers needed to hear: He committed himself to backing the police, for example, and acknowledged the public has a right to be angry over crime.

“Safety and justice are the prerequisites of prosperity,” he said. “We cannot have a city where people are afraid to walk the streets.”

Adams has left no doubt that he’s a big improvement over Mayor Bill de Blasio. But that’s a pathetically low bar: He’ll still need to step up his game to assure the city’s future.

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