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Sunday, June 16, 2024

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City HallThe AgendaThe SF budget battle takes center stage

The SF budget battle takes center stage

It's cops against social services in a politically charged budget year. That's The Agenda for June 10-16


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The debate over Mayor London Breed’s budget, and the direction the city will take in a difficult year, will start to play out Wed/16, when the Budget and Appropriations Committee starts hearings on the final proposals, which include deep cuts to social services and more money for the cops.

In most years, the supes tinker around at the edges, demanding add-backs for a few services, and in the end, approving about 95 percent of what the mayor asks for.

This year is different.

In her State of the City speech, Breed talked about more money for cops—but at the expense of what? Photo by Ebbe Roe Yovino Smith

A budget is a statement of priorities, and a deficit-year budget is a powerful statement of priorities: The city can’t fund everything everyone wants, so some things are going to have to go.

And this year, three of the five members of the committee that will hammer out the details (the full board rarely does much beyond accepting what the committee approves) are critics of the direction Breed is taking the city.

One of them, Board President Aaron Peskin, is running against Breed for mayor.

The chair of the committee, Connie Chan, has clashed with the mayor and is running for re-election against a candidate who is backed by Breed’s allies.

So this will not be an ordinary budget year.

As long as nobody is talking about new revenue—and that’s where the city is right now, since new taxes would require a public vote and nothing is headed for the fall ballot—the reality is that the discussions are going to involve a difficult political question: Are more cops, and more sheriffs, and more prosecutors putting more people in jail more important than more social services, including public health?

Is the solution to every social problem a law-enforcement solution?

Can the supes realistically, in this political environment, cut some of the nearly $80 million in increased spending Breed is seeking for the cops and the sheriff?

A long list of community groups already oppose the mayor’s plans. Where will the city employee unions (most of whom already have approved new three-year contracts) come down?

What happens if there is a Muni strike?

Most of the General Fund departments are facing cuts. (The city and county budget includes agencies like the airport, which is self-funding and gets no taxpayer money, and programs funded by the state and federal government which the supes can’t mess with.)

The Wednesday hearing is just the start of a big week, with further hearings on Thursday and Friday. Here’s the lineup:


Assessor/Recorder, Office of the Technology, Department of City Administrator, Office of the Health Service System Human Resources, Department of Civil Service Commission Ethics Commission Elections, Department of General City Responsibility Controller, Office of the Mayor, Office of the Planning Department Public Works Human Services Agency Board of Supervisors.


Asian Arts Museum Fine Arts Museum Academy of Sciences Arts Commission War Memorial Children, Youth and Their Families, Department of Department on the Status of Women Human Rights Commission Recreation and Park, Department of Economic and Workforce Development, Office of Public Health, Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, Department of Early Childhood

Friday is law-enforcement:

City Attorney, Office of the Treasurer and Tax Collector, Office of the Superior Court Emergency Management, Department of Juvenile Probation Adult Probation Public Defender, Office of the Fire Department Sheriff’s Department Police Accountability, Department of Inspector General, Office of the District Attorney, Office of the Police Department.

The hearings all start at 10am.

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Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.


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