Washington Examiner

Boston’s mayor and city council clash over budget plan.

Progressive Boston Mayor Michelle Wu Takes a Stand Against City Council’s Budget Proposal

Progressive Boston Mayor Michelle Wu is engaged in a fierce battle with the city council over its proposed 2024 operating budget. The budget includes significant cuts to the city’s police and veteran services departments, which Wu strongly opposes.

Wu, who is currently serving her first term as mayor, made the bold move to veto the budget on Friday. The proposed budget aimed to cut $31 million from the city’s police force and $900,000 from the veteran services department. However, it also included an $8 million increase in funding for participatory budgeting, allowing residents to have more say in how tax dollars are spent.

A Clash of Visions

Back in April, Wu presented her own budget proposal, which the city council used as a blueprint for their version. However, the council made $52 million in amendments to Wu’s proposal, leading to a clash of visions.

“The scale and scope of amendments passed by the Council would result in reductions to the core City services that our residents depend on and deserve,” Wu expressed in a letter to the council members, as obtained by the Washington Examiner.

Wu firmly believes that the budget should be responsive to the needs of the constituents, fiscally responsible, and built on a foundation of effective delivery of city services that are crucial to residents’ quality of life.

The Battle Continues

The $4.2 billion operating budget will now be returned to the city council, where it is unlikely that the veto will be overturned. The budget was initially passed on Wednesday in a 7-5 vote. To override the veto, eight council members would need to support the override.

One particular cut that has sparked vocal backlash is the reduction in funding for veteran services. Council President Ed Flynn, who did not vote in favor of the budget, has received numerous calls from veterans across the nation who feel that the city is abandoning its military community.

“Cutting veterans programs shows the public and our military families that we don’t keep our promises to veterans and military families,” Flynn expressed to the Boston Herald. “That’s a solemn oath that the government has made to support veterans when we put them in harm’s way, and we broke that promise.”

Councilor Tania Fernandes Anderson, who did vote to pass the budget, admitted to regretting the proposed cut to veteran services.

Another contentious issue in the budget is the decrease in funding for the police department. Wu argues that the $31 million cut is “illusory” because the city is still obligated to cover the salaries and overtime expenses incurred by the department.

Councilor Michael Flaherty also strongly criticized the substantial decrease in law enforcement funding, stating that it would be “decimating.”

“We’ve got the best police department in the country,” Flaherty emphasized. “We’ve got the best community policing model in the country. We are the envy of cities our size and bigger across this country, and we’re all witnessing the consequences of defunding the police in other cities. This $30 million cut would be decimating to our Boston Police Department.”

Concerns and Consequences

While the overall crime rate in Boston decreased by 1.5% in 2022 compared to the previous year, there has been a rise in homicides, with 15 reported as of May, compared to 10 in May 2021.

The budget also includes cuts to the public works and transportation departments, which Wu argues will cause delays in critical infrastructure projects. Additionally, there are cuts to the Boston Public Library.

“Our team is eager to engage in the specifics of these returned amendments and look forward to the continued partnership of the City Council in this operating budget process and with the final approval of the FY24-FY28 Capital Plan,” Wu stated.

In response to the mayor’s veto, the city council has scheduled a special meeting for June 21 to address the rejection. However, a vote on the final budget will not take place until June 28.

Click here to read more from the Washington Examiner.

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