Late-night budget deal restores millions in spending

Millions of dollars of spending will go to offset cuts to health, substance abuse and other social services championed by Board of Supervisors members under a budget deal hammered out Tuesday that will also save two of Mayor Gavin Newsom’s prized programs.

Last-minute budget discussions at City Hall lead to a deal about Newsom’s proposed $6.5 billion city and county annual budget, ending in a 10-1 approval of the fiscal plan.

“It was a monumental effort,” said Supervisor John Avalos, chair of the board’s Budget and Finance Committee who along with Board of Supervisors President David Chiu helped broker the deal with Newsom. “It’s actually about a $100 million less than last year’s budget so we actually have a shrinking budget. We also have a shrinking work force.”

Heading into the Board of Supervisors’ 2 p.m. meeting Tuesday, an agreement over the budget had yet to be reached, prompting a recess at 5 p.m. for budget talks to resume. The board returned to announce the deal at 9:50 p.m. The board members were working toward a budget agreement to ensure their funding priorities are honored by Newsom.

Prior to recessing the meeting, the board had postponed votes on proposed ballot measures that Newsom and the board were battling over. Those included charter amendments Newsom has taken a stand against that would take away his control over Muni, the Recreation and Park Department and the Rent Board.

A budget agreement had been outstanding since Newsom submitted his proposed $6.5 billion budget June 1 to the Board of Supervisors for review. The board’s Budget and Finance Committee failed to reach terms with Newsom, but voted July 1 to send the budget to the full board anyway, calling it a “work in progress.”

The committee made $32 million worth of cuts and also proposed spending an additional $7 million in unexpected revenue.

As per the agreement, the cuts the committee made to two programs Newsom had prioritized and championed were restored: $260,000 for a permanent site to operate “round-the-clock” Project Homeless Connect, which provides services to the homeless under one roof periodically, and $257,000 for a Kids 2 College Savings program, which is meant to ultimately provide every student who enters kindergarten with a college savings account contributed to by The City.

Members of the board have also criticized Newsom for not supporting tax measures for the Nov. 2 ballot, which they say should be part of the budgeting process since a $483 million deficit was closed for the current fiscal year and similarly sized deficits are projected in subsequent years. The board postponed a vote on the tax measures until July 27.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

 

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