Mayor Eric Adams has inserted himself into a debate over whether raising penalties deters crime, as lawmakers are still working on a deal to finalize the already late, multi-billion dollar state budget.

“I just don't believe raising penalties is ever a deterrent on crime,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said on March 26.

The Bronx Democrat will play a big part in deciding the fate of certain policies staying in or dropping out of the budget. He has not backed raising consequences for those who assault retail workers.

What You Need To Know

  • State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie appears to be standing firm against Gov. Kathy Hochul, who wants to elevate penalties to an automatic felony offense for people who assault retail workers
  • Mayor Eric Adams supports measures that would cut down on recidivist crimes
  • Another state budget extender was passed Monday by the state Senate to keep the government running through Thursday, April 11
  • The state budget, originally due April 1, is now a week late

But Adams spoke up last week, declaring that he disagrees with Heastie’s stance.

“I disagree that, as he stated, that it does not deter violence. What it does, and what I believe it should do, it keeps dangerous people off our streets,” Adams said during an April 5 interview with Fox 5.

Heastie appears to be standing firm against Gov. Kathy Hochul’s key budget proposal, which would elevate penalties to an automatic felony offense against people who assault retail workers.

“I gave a simple answer of no. I don't believe in the history of increasing penalties has that ever been the reason why crime has gone down. Other things happening is why crime has gone down,” Heastie said on April 2 in Albany.

Adams supports measures that would cut down on recidivist crimes.

“There's some people who are so violent in nature that, no matter what the penalties are in front of us, they will commit a crime. What penalties will do, they would take these dangerous people off our streets,” Adams said on Fox 5.

Michael McMahon, the Democratic Staten Island district attorney, agrees.

“We believe that our retail workers are under attack across the state, especially here in the city of New York,” McMahon told NY1 in a Zoom interview.

“This notion that accountability should not be connected to our criminal justice system, it’s really a new one on me. I think it just defies logic,” McMahon added.

The state Assembly removed Hochul’s plan from their counter proposal, while the state Senate offered a compromise.

“You’re adding up basically the value of the different crimes. I think that is one approach that you could pursue. But that goes against the crime of petit or grand larceny. That doesn’t deal with the assault on the retail worker. So you really need both,” McMahon said when asked about the state Senate’s plan.

Retail theft is a sticking point in the week-late multi-billion dollar state budget. Lawmakers extended the budget deadline Monday to Thursday, April 11.

“We’re very disappointed in Speaker Heastie,” said Nelson Eusebio from the National Supermarket Association.

“I hope that the governor will stay firm and realize the urgency that retail stores are going through in the city of New York and the state of New York,” Eusebio added.

Although Hochul’s plan also includes money for additional security and a new law enforcement task force, Eusebio said without boosted penalties, small businesses will continue to suffer.

“The supermarket is going to become more threatening to the employees and even to our customers," Eusebio said.

Meanwhile, complaints of shoplifting hit nearly 60,000 last year, according to the NYPD — slightly down from about 64,000 filed the year prior.