Testimony of McGregor Smyth to the New York City Council Committee Re: General Welfare in FY25 Budget

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Testimony of McGregor Smyth, Executive Director of New York Lawyers for the Public  Interest to the New York City Council Committee on General Welfare March 11, 2024, regarding the New York City FY25 Budget  

My name is McGregor Smyth, and I am the Executive Director of New York Lawyers for the  Public Interest (NYLPI). We appreciate the City Council’s leadership in expanding access to  critical legal services. NYLPI is privileged to be a part of the City Council’s Immigrant Health  Initiative, and we thank you for that support.  

In this budget process, we call on the Council to continue defending vital city services and  investments from budget cuts and flatlining. The New York City Independent Budget Office  (IBO) has projected a budget surplus that is $2.8 billion higher than the Mayor’s Office of  Budget and Management (OMB). IBO also estimates $2.4 billion less in spending on asylum  seekers than what is reflected in the Administration’s estimates across 2024 and 2025. Similarly,  the Council’s own forecast shows substantially more revenue than estimated by OMB. Now is  not the time to retreat from our city’s public health, equity, and sustainability goals. 

Today, I am here to ask the Council to continue their support by restoring and enhancing funding  for the Immigrant Health Initiative, which has saved lives and improved health across the city. The volume of recently-arrived migrants has only increased the need for initiatives that  champion immigrant rights and facilitate access to services, including healthcare and legal  assistance. The funding provided by the Immigrant Health Initiative (IHI) has supported  NYLPI’s programs aimed at improving the health and well-being of immigrant New Yorkers and  their families through direct immigration representation, litigation, community education,  strategic partnerships with public hospitals, and non-legal advocacy. Through holistic  immigration and wraparound services, NYLPI improves health outcomes, increases access to  healthcare, and educates the community, healthcare providers, and legal service advocates.  

We also stand in partnership with the legal services community in full support of funding  fairness and reasonable funding increases each year to cover salary adjustments, inflation, and  new technology costs. We call on the City to establish new contract protocols that allow  automatic payments without arduous vouchering procedures and faster contract registration once  the City budget is approved.

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