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Op-Ed: The Budget Vote Was Not an Easy One, Nor One That I Took Lightly

Council Member Julie Won

June 15, 2022 Op-Ed By Councilmember Julie Won

As I read the agenda for the budget vote for Fiscal Year 2023, I sat in my seat in the chambers of City Hall surrounded by portraits and inscriptions of men. I thought of my predecessors who sat in my seat before me and how surreal it was that I, too, will vote on a budget on behalf of New York City – the largest municipality of our country.

Only 23 years ago, my family and I arrived at JFK and I learned to read and write English in our public schools and public libraries. 23 years later, my parents still have limited English proficiency. As I waited for my turn to vote, I thought of my newborn at home with my mom– my mom who arrived on U.S. soil with dreams of one day becoming a nurse, but never got the chance.

With the dreams of so many people resting heavy on my heart, I voted “Yes” to the FY’23 budget. As
Council Member, I promised to advocate for the needs of those who may not even dream of stepping foot in City Hall.

Knowing that the budget was going to pass with an overwhelming majority, I could not allow for funding to be stripped from my district – the very people I was elected to fight for.

As the first immigrant and woman to represent district 26, I fought to secure $20M investment for adult literacy programs, $13.5M for language access, $11.2M to provide additional support for English Language Learners in our schools, and $10M for childcare for undocumented children.

After four long years of advocacy from those who came before me, I was able to introduce the Language Access bill which creates a worker led co-op for culturally competent translation services for our city as well as $5M in funding to ensure its execution.

That night, we made history by establishing the first Language Access Co-Op in the entire country.

I was also able to secure funding for the Tibetan Community Center of Woodside, the largest Tibetan nonprofit in the city for the first time ever – breaking barriers that kept them out from receiving council funding in the past.

The vote on our city’s budget is not neatly confined by multiple votes for each issue area – but a single
vote for the budget in its entirety.

This meant a “No” vote on the budget would mean a vote against allotted funding for the hard fought historical funding for immigrants, much needed human services cost of living adjustments, aid to balance out federal funding cuts to education, youth and senior care, restoration to prior year cuts to sanitation and parks, housing and rental assistance, and so much more which shape our day-to-day lives.

We must remember the fiscal year is not defined by one vote in a single evening, but by a year-long process of post-adoption work through processes of oversight. Our budget, like our lives in this city, is fluid – the budget at its adoption will not look the same a year from now post-adoption.

We, as the council, have the power to make necessary changes. I believe that taken as a whole, the FY ‘23 budget provides funding for the most vulnerable New Yorkers, and tens of thousands of my neighbors in district 26. Countless New Yorkers rely on services and programs such as medical and mental health services, career services, housing assistance, and much more which this budget accounts for.

In Western Queens, we have seen the rising need for investment in our schools, parks, and community

To ensure that every family has access to safe, well-designed parks, I secured $6.6M to repair the Lawrence Virgilio Playground, and $5.3M for Murray Playground, including $1.2M for the Murray Playground Dog Run.

During my first few months as Council Member, I visited nearly every school in our district, from elementary school through community college– all to determine what our students, teachers, and parents needed from the city.

As their advocate, I fought to fund millions of dollars worth of upgrades to schools’ libraries, cafeterias, technology, and much, much more. With federal funding for our public schools running low, and with enrollment in NYC public schools dropping, the Department of Education’s budget has decreased based on each school’s enrollment rate by law.

In light of this reality, my colleagues and I secured an additional $89M for our schools from the council, as well as funding summer employment and other enrichment programs. For our local schools specifically, I’ve committed 70% of my own office’s entire capital budget to make sure our district’s students are provided the best education experience possible.

In addition to these enhancements, I was able to guarantee $3M in additional funding for our very own Laguardia Community College. Another pillar of our neighborhoods is the community-based organizations and nonprofits who provide invaluable services from community-led public safety, child care, to senior programming. As such, I was able to secure more than $1,287,000 to ensure that our community organizations can continue to serve our neighborhoods with more to be added through initiatives designated post adoption.

This budget vote was not an easy one nor one that I took lightly.

My team and I spent days in budget briefings, evenings reading through reports, and months fighting for as many of the priorities for our city to the best of our abilities. Change in this 300+ year old system won’t happen overnight, but together – if we continue to push and support one another, we will year after year become a city that we dream of.

Thank you again for your support and patience because without you, I would never have even dreamt of voting for a historical budget funding childcare for undocumented children, language access for children and adults, and the first of a kind Unit of Appropriations for transparency and accountability in NYPD overtime spending.

As always, my doors are open to you. Please reach out to continue the conversation so that this new fiscal year is one of transparency and input from each and everyone of us.

District 26 Funding Secured by Council Member Won:

Capital Funding-$5,000,000:
● Schools – $3,500,000 (70.00% of member discretionary capital budget)
○ How we made decisions: The Council Member and her team visited schools in the district
during her first quarter in office. During our visits Council Member Won asked school
leaders to highlight any capital/infrastructure needs our office should be aware of and
could advocate for. In February each school was asked to submit requests for capital
funding.The Council Member awarded 6 schools with funds for projects with a cost
of $100,000 or higher for large-scale projects.
■ PS 150 – $500,000 for much needed auditorium repairs
■ PS 112 Dutch Kills – $400,000 for the process of installing central air
conditioning in their cafeteria
■ PS 343 – Children’s Lab School – $300,000 for a movable gym wall so that
students and staff can make the best use of their space
■ PS199 – $300,000 for library upgrades. This funding will support the creation
of a full functioning library with a media center.
■ Q277 The Riverview School – $100,000 in funding for the completion of
bathroom upgrades such as new sinks, toilets, wall tiles, floor tiles, and
washroom accessories.
■ PS 111 will receive $300,000 to fund technology upgrades in their classrooms
and laptops for students.
■ PS 11 will also receive $100,000 to fund technology upgrades.
■ In line with Council Member Won’s priorities of closing the gap in digital
literacy, the Council Member awarded 22 schools with $75,000 awards to
fund technology upgrades. (a $25,000 increase from technology awards in
past years). These funds can be used by schools for the purchase of technology
and equipment.
● PS 12
● P.S. 339 – The Woodside Community School
● PS291 Hunters Point Middle School
● P993
● I.S. 125
● PS/IS 78
● P.S. 152 Gwendoline N. Alleyne School
● PS 11
● I.S 204
● P.S 166
● P.S. 76
● John F. Kennedy Jr. School
● P.S. Q004
● P.S. Q993
● The Riverview School – P.S. 199
● The Riverview School – Energy Tech
● The Riverview School – P.S./I.S. 78
● The Riverview School – Hunters Point
● District 30 3k/Pre-K Centers
● Newcomers High School
● William Cullen Bryant High School
○ $500,000 (10.00% of member discretionary capital budget)
● Great Streets Vision Zero – Queens Boulevard
● Parks
○ $1,000,000 (20.00% of member discretionary capital budget)
● Lawrence Virgilio Playground Repairs
Speaker Funding-$12,900,000:
● Aviation High School – $5,000,000
● Laguardia Community College – $3,000,000
● Lawrence Virgilio Playground Repairs – $5,600,000
● Murray Playground – $4,100,000
● Murray Playground Dog Run – $1,200,000
● CUNY Laguardia Community College – $3,000,000
Queens Delegation
○ $50,000 – Sunnyside Community Services Center for Senior Services and Programming,
the highest amount awarded by the Queens Delegation.
● Speaker – secured $577,000 in funding for programs and services for our district.
○ Community Capacity Development – $100,000
■ Funds will support the expansion of the Community Liaison Department which is
deployed to all 5 Boroughs sponsoring events and supporting local Anti Gun
Violence initiatives and community outreach initiatives.
○ Catholic Migration Services, Inc. – $75,000
■ Funding to reach out to low-income New Yorkers, particularly immigrants, and
provide civil legal services.
○ Sunnyside Community Services – Cornerstone Community Center – $50,000
■ Funding will support programming at Cornerstone Community Center located
within the NYCHA Woodside Houses through after-school programs for
elementary and middle school students and drop-in activities for adolescents
through adults.
○ Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence – $50,000
■ Funding to support the expansion of programming including building a new
client base and supporting membership organizers.
○ Adhikaar for Human Rights and Social Justice – $35,000
■ Provide outreach and education to Nepali-speaking community members,
including domestic workers, by connecting to resources and services.
Programming includes adult literacy, COVID-19 community response, and
immigration casework support.
○ New York Irish Center – $145,000
■ Along with the Irish Caucus
■ To provide senior programming via communal meals, entertainment, learning,
creative activities, guidance, engagement and monitoring.
○ New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE) – $50,000
■ Funding will enable NICE to provide wraparound services for immigrant workers
and their families who need support and are at high risk of workplace abuse and
○ Mixteca – $100,000
■ Funding will support mental health services, legal, immigration services, and
English learning classes
○ Woodside on the Move – $22,000
■ To support the Cornerstone Community Center at Woodside Houses,
pre-kindergarten program, and after-school program for students.
Citywide funding secured by Council Member Won:
-$700M+ increase in city funding for public schools
-$14 million to restore Community Schools funding and add funding to support new schools
-$11.2 million to provide additional support to English Language Learners.
-$277M for Summer Rising academic enrichment
-$79M for a record 100,000 Summer Youth Employment slots
-$60M for Cost of Living Adjustments funding for human services / nonprofits
-$20M Adult literacy for English learners
-$13.5M Language Access
-$237M for CityFHEPS Voucher Increase for rental assistance
-$90M for working and middle-class homeowners property tax rebate
-$22M for expanded litter basket pickup to keep our streets clean, with many more restorations of parks
and sanitation funding
-$5.1M for Community-led Public Safety and Victim Services

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I wish the Council Member in my district, Tiffany Caban, had not voted against the budget in what I feel was self-serving grandstanding to prove how ultra-left she is. There have already been repercussions as funding was pulled from Variety Boys & Girls Club allegedly because Caban broke ranks with the rest of the Council. TC complained that the budget did not defund the police – defunding is so “2019” – NYC has moved on from that. Perhaps TC is beholden to the radical DSA for what she promised them in the past for their anointment. If she is not merely a puppet of the DSA and still truly believes that the NYPD should be defunded then that is even worse.


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