During her upbeat and positive State of the Borough speech last week, Borough President Helen Marshall identified two city budget areas in which Queens is being shortchanged by millions of dollars. Yes, millions of dollars less to our libraries and cultural institutions.
Marshall vowed she would “not rest until we obtain a level playing field” with the other boroughs. Citing statistics provided by the Mayor’s Management Report, she showed that “using a fair funding formula, Queens Libraries were shortchanged by more than $11 million last fiscal year.”
“Our nationally-recognized library system meets the needs of America’s most diverse county. The library isn’t just about books anymore. It is a hub of community service,” Marshall said. “That’s why I invested more than $100 million to enhance and expand our libraries,” she added.
Queens has the busiest libraries in the city and they receive 18 percent less city funding per visitor than Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Staten Island, Marshall pointed out.
“In fact, last year, each and every branch in Queens received $77,000 less than Brooklyn branches,” Marshall said. She said she is working with Queens politicians to draft legislation to correct this inequity.
The issue of fair funding carried over to our Queens cultural institutions and programs, which, according to Marshall’s numbers, received less per capita arts support than any other borough. Queens receives less than $3 per capita while Brooklyn gets over $6; Staten Island over $9; the Bronx over $10 and Manhattan over $18 per capita.
“I am proud that I have allocated more than $106 million to our cultural institutions,” Marshall said.
One of Marshall’s goals in running for her third term was her desire to finish major cultural projects such as the expansion that doubled the size of the Museum of the Moving Image, the expansion at the Queens Museum of Art, the reconstruction at the Queens Botanical Garden and the Great Hall at the Hall of Science as well as many other projects including those at MOMA, P.S., 1 and the Afrikan Poetry Theater in Jamaica.
As John Lennon might have said, “Imagine” how much greater our borough could be with its fair share of city funding.
We applaud and support Marshall’s fight for funds.

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