The Queens Borough Board, chaired by Acting Borough President Sharon Lee, issued its response to Mayor de Blasio’s $95.3 billion preliminary budget for 2021, as voted on by the board late last month, highlighting substantial resource disparities, particularly for schools, seniors and hospitals.
“Compared to the rest of the city, Queens school kids are the least funded per pupil, our elders are the least funded per capita, and our hospitals are the most under-bedded,” Lee said. “While Queens has long managed to do more with less, it’s time for some overdue parity and a fairer share.”
The board’s official recommendations can be found here. Lee penned a cover letter to the mayor, the City Council and the Mayor’s Office of Management Budget to accompany the board’s budget recommendations.
“Citywide, Queens schools remain the most overcrowded and underfunded. Of the city’s entire public school student population, nearly a third is enrolled in Queens schools, yet our kids are terribly shortchanged by receiving the least amount of per pupil spending from the city than any other borough,” Lee wrote. “Queens elders are also deeply shortchanged. The disparity is particularly sharp when we have nearly double the senior population of another borough, yet only half the city’s per capita spending compared to that same borough. Nearly a third of the city’s seniors reside in Queens, yet our elders receive the least amount of per capita spending from the city than any other.”
Lee went on to address the disparity in hospital funding.
“Queens hospitals are under-bedded and overburdened, and any Medicaid cost shift to the city may have a big impact on Queens,” Lee wrote. “Our two public hospitals, Elmhurst Hospital Center and Queens Hospital Center, have done a remarkable job of enhancing services and public confidence in their care. The borough as a whole, however, currently has only nine acute care hospitals serving 2.34 million residents, and the closures of four hospitals since 2008 have further strained access to healthcare. With a mere 1.66 hospital beds per 1,000 residents, Queens is by far the most under-bedded borough in the city.”
The Borough Board is comprised of the borough’s City Council members and the chairperson of each community board. The board focuses on issues dealing with land use, development, public policy, budget and other important matters with potential borough-wide implications.