Queens Eagle Daily: De Blasio, Johnson agree on 2020 budget; will fund public defender pay parity

By Victoria Merlino
June 14, 2019

Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson announced an agreement on the New York City Fiscal Year 2020 budget on June 14. The $92.8 billion budget will fund the healthcare program NYC Care, expand de Blasio’s 3-K for All program in the Bronx and Brooklyn, provide an additional $33 million toward the city’s libraries and place 200 additional social workers in schools, among other things.

De Blasio and Johnson also committed to fund pay parity for public defenders and civil legal services staff with the city’s Corporation Counsel.

“The Fiscal Year 2020 Adopted Budget creates greater fairness for all New Yorkers,” de Blasio said in a statement. “We’ve reached an agreement that promises to create a pathway to pay parity for our early childhood education providers to address recruitment and retention issues, expands services that prevent unnecessary detention and fights the widespread national attack on access to abortion care.”

Other features of the budget include $60 million toward retrofitting city government buildings for the city’s Green New Deal initiative, $5 million toward Vision Zero public awareness campaigns and $14 million toward the “Bridging the Gap” program, which provides support for students in shelters, according to a statement from the Mayor’s Office.

The Legal Aid Society campaigned for months before the budget was approved to see parity pay for public defenders included in the budget, as previously reported in the Eagle. They argued that the defenders were working at a financial disadvantage with relatively low pay compared to other government attorneys.

“Closing the parity divide will ensure that our clients will get the vigorous representation that they rightfully deserve and that our staff is paid a dignified wage commensurate with their courtroom adversaries,” Legal Aid CEO Janet Sabel said in a statement about the new budget.