The Board of Supervisors approved Mayor Gavin Newsom’s $6.1 billion city budget Tuesday — but not without controversy.
One supervisor accused colleagues of caving in to political pressure at the expense of San Francisco’s most vulnerable residents and urged them to stand up to the mayor’s “bullies.”
Newsom submitted his city budget for the 2007-08 fiscal year in June, calling it a “back to basics” budget as it includes millions of dollars in new funding for more police, homeless workers, Muni operators and street improvements. Every year, the board has to approve the mayor’s budget submission, though it is allowed to make cuts and use the extra money as it chooses.
This year’s budget process, taking place during Newsom’s re-election year, was full of political fireworks centering on the contentious relationship between Newsom and Supervisor Chris Daly. Earlier in the year, Daly succeeded in getting a $22 million affordable-housing spending measure passed by the Board of Supervisors, but Newsom did not program that money into his proposed budget.
Daly in turn threatened to slash funding for Newsom’s initiatives and use the money to fund the housing measure and other needs. The threat boiled over into a public feud, prompting Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin to remove Daly as chairman of the board’s Budget and Finance Committee, with Peskin himself taking the helm.
The committee wound up cutting $22 million from Newsom’s budget proposal and using the money to fund other needs, such as health services and affordable housing.
Daly, however, asked the full board on Tuesday to support cutting an additional $25 million out of the budget to fund other needs. His proposal included cutting $2.4 million budgeted for a police academy class and millions of dollars for street repairs to instead fund affordable housing, the restoration of 14 psychiatric beds at San Francisco General Hospital and the hiring of about five nurses.
“Colleagues, stand up to Newsom’s bullies and stand up for progressive San Francisco values,” Daly said.
No members of the board supported Daly’s proposal. “It seems as if the deal is done. No one wants to touch Daly. Daly is radioactive,” Daly said, and then left the board chambers, returning in time to cast the lone dissenting vote on the budget.
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