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SF supes re-allocate $41.4M in budget deal with Mayor Farrell

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Board of Supervisors President Malia Cohen announced a budget deal early Thursday. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Just after 1 a.m. Thursday, the Board of Supervisors finalized a budget deal with Mayor Mark Farrell as well as with Mayor-elect London Breed who will need to sign the proposal into law later next month.

Board president Supervisor Malia Cohen, chair of the board’s Budget and Finance Committee, announced the agreement early Thursday. The committee began its final day of budget deliberations Wednesday at 10:45 a.m.

In total, the committee voted to re-allocate $41.4 million from Farrell’s two-year budget proposal, which totals $11 billion in each fiscal year, to fund other spending priorities.

That includes adding $1 million in each of the next two fiscal years for job training for “vulnerable populations,” nearly $1 million in each of the next two fiscal years for services for victims of domestic violence and nearly $2.4 million over two years for food services for seniors and people living with disabilities.

The re-allocation also provided each member of the board with $1 million to allocate for special services in their respective districts.

City College received $2.4 million over two years to fund free summer courses. Currently, it is only free during the regular school year.

Perhaps one of the most dramatic moments of the budget committee’s review of the budget proposal was on Monday when Supervisor Sandra Fewer, with the support of Cohen and Supervisor Norman Yee, rejected $2 million in funding for next fiscal year that would have allowed the Police Department to purchase Tasers, or stun guns. Instead that money was added to the funds re-allocated to other services early Thursday.

“While it’s always challenging to come to consensus on the budget, I think this package really reflects the board’s desire to build a safety net around or most vulnerable residents,” Fewer said in a statement to the San Francisco Examiner after the vote.

Cohen noted that she was having to negotiate not only with Farrell, who introduced the budget, but Breed, who will be mayor when the budget is approved by the full board next month and needs to sign it into law. Breed will be sworn in as mayor on July 11.

“I hope this process you have found to be transparent and fair and open,” Cohen said after the vote. Cohen sought to bring more transparency around the reallocation of funds, also called “add-backs,” by posting updated funding requests online and asking board members to testify publicly on what funding priorities they had.

Cohen, who is serving her second year as chair of the budget committee, also spoke about the need to have a greater measurement on the effectiveness of funding. “This is an $11 billion budget that we are deliberating over and yet there is still a tremendous amount of need,” Cohen said.

She suggested having a mandate for department heads in future years. “If they are going to be asking for money or expanding their budget they should be able to defend and show us that they are shrinking the disparity gap and that they are creating job opportunities and that they are helping people get into housing,” Cohen said.

The full board is expected to take its first of two votes on the budget proposal on July 24.

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