NEW YORK — After releasing a plan for New York City’s recovery, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams says the city needs a New Deal-like plan, arguing that simply trying to get New York City back to where it was pre-pandemic would leave too many New Yorkers behind.
"What we put forth is a ‘Renewed Deal,’ very much fashioned after the New Deal 90 years ago," Williams said in a Wednesday night interview with NY1 political anchor Errol Louis on Inside City Hall. "We have to go back to what worked and not try to put these arcane cuts that people are pushing through, and really correct many of the things that weren’t correct before the pandemic.”
While City Hall recently has expressed optimism about its fiscal outlook, the city is facing hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts from the state. For example, according to Jacques Jiha, the director of the Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed state budget threatens to slash nearly $500 million from the city’s public hospital system over the next two fiscal years.
And while many elected officials are optimistic that Washington will send federal aid, it is unclear how much money would be sent to the five boroughs.
In response to the fears of cuts, Williams’s plan calls for investments, warning against the potential for austerity cuts as the city faces budget uncertainty.
Williams’s demands include:
- Investments in New York City public housing and affordable housing
- A focus on equity in education and employment
- Changing the city’s transportation infrastructure
- Addressing public health and safety inequities
He also suggests in the report that the city should raise revenue by making "the wealthiest New Yorkers pay their fair share," and specifically calls for implementing the Invest in Our New York Act. Among the options Williams's plan specifically calls for include instituting higher marginal tax rates on the highest-earning New Yorkers, implementing a heir tax on the highest 1% of inheritances, and repealing corporate profit tax breaks in the state that were implemented during the Trump presidency.
The reason the city needs investments, Williams says, is because the inequities — such as unequal access to health care — hurting many New Yorkers right now won’t be remedied simply by getting New York’s economy back to its pre-pandemic state. The Public Advocate says New York City has faced inequities for decades, and he says now is the time to rectify them.
“We don’t want to go back to normal, because we all have to agree that normal didn’t work for the vast majority of New Yorkers. So we have an opportunity to lay down a new normal, some new systems, correct some of the things we’ve been trying to correct for a long time," Williams said.
The Public Advocate also declined to weigh in on speculation that he may launch a Democratic primary challenge to Andrew Cuomo next year as the governor faces an investigation into claims he sexually harassed several women, as well as a probe into his administration’s handling of nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic and the underreporting of fatality data.
Williams, who came within seven percentage points of defeating Kathy Hochul in the 2018 Democratic primary for lieutenant governor, has been seen as a rising progressive star. But while he criticized Cuomo, and said he has fears about what he says is the governor's style of retribution and bullying tactics will mean for the upcoming budget, Williams told NY1 he’s focused on his reelection campaign for Public Advocate.
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Watch the full interview above.
This story includes reporting from Courtney Gross.
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