Riding the wave of an improving economy, Mayor Ed Lee rolled out a $7.3 billion city and county budget proposal Thursday that includes nearly 700 new government jobs, no cuts to health services and a likelihood of no political drama.
Lee presented a two-year budget — it will increase to $7.6 billion in the subsequent fiscal year — in a 14-minute speech at City Hall in the Board of Supervisors chamber filled with department heads and elected officials.
Up from the current fiscal year’s $6.8 billion budget, Lee’s budget proposal for the fiscal year beginning July 1 adds 695 more positions, for a total of 26,878 workers, which will grow by another 172 workers in the subsequent year. That includes more than 100 new positions in the Department of Public Health, 30 new adult probationers and additions to the number of Muni operators.
There were many factors helping to fuel the budget growth, including a $135 million absorption of the functions of the Redevelopment Agency, which was dissolved by the state. Unlike in years past, there won’t be political battling over cuts to health services.
“In this budget I have rejected all service reductions in our health department and Human Services Agency,” Lee said. He also restored more than $6 million in funding to offset federal cuts to services for those with HIV/AIDS.
San Francisco’s nonprofit service providers, which haven’t had a wage rate increase in five years, could see a 1 percent increase. And money is budgeted to pay for police and firefighter academy classes. In addressing labor unions, Lee thanked them for supporting a pension reform measure that will help The City save $40 million next year alone and for giving up pay in the past. Lee negotiated 27 labor contracts that result in modest raises in two years.
The improving economy, along with labor union sacrifices and other belt-tightening in the past, has led to finally having a budget “that has some relatively good news and a good foundation,” Lee said. At the outset, San Francisco was facing a budget deficit of $263 million, but the gap kept shrinking with unanticipated revenues coming in.
Overall, Lee said The City is on the right track toward economic recovery.
“We are creating a climate and conditions that give investors and entrepreneurs confidence in our city, allowing them to work with us to innovate, to grow and to create jobs whether they are a neighborhood small business, or tech startup or a thriving global headquarters,” Lee said.
In early 2011, San Francisco’s unemployment rate was 9.6 percent. Today it is 7.4 percent, “our lowest since 2008.” Lee said that San Francisco created 22,500 net new jobs in the past year.
The budget proposal will undergo a review by the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee this month and needs to be approved by the full board.