Balanced budget set to strengthen city's future

Today I am signing The City's balanced budget for fiscal years 2013-14 and 2014-15. Thanks to Supervisor Mark Farrell, members of the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee, and the entire board for their unflagging efforts to ensure that together we developed the best budget for San Francisco and our residents.

I want to particularly thank the hundreds of city residents and community organizations for participating in this public budget process. Their input and recommendations gave us the opportunity to craft and execute a consensus-driven, fiscally responsible budget that smartly invests in basic city services, critical infrastructure improvements and, most importantly, the people of San Francisco.

As a San Franciscan, I am very proud of our budget, which increases the strength of our social safety net, supports our first responders and invests in our city's infrastructure at an unprecedented level. Through hard work and collaboration, this budget adds capacity to the Department of Public Health to implement federal health care reform; funds child care programs cut by the state; and, with the help of the Board of Supervisors, fully funds HIV/AIDS health and prevention service cuts made by the federal government.

In addition to taking care of our social safety net, we also make significant investments in The City's infrastructure, including improving and repaving our city streets, repairing our aging water and sewer systems, and completing construction of our new General Hospital. These investments will save money in the long run and support more than 4,000 construction jobs here in San Francisco in the near term.

Together, we were able to craft a budget that ensures that we will hire 300 new police officers and 120 new firefighters over the next two years. Our first responders make sacrifices each day to keep our city safe.

This budget also ensures our future fiscal health by paying into reserve funds for use during an economic rainy day. These reserves, along with the recent reforms to The City's pension health care funding strategies, will generate savings over the long term, and they have resulted in an upgrade in our bond ratings, giving The City a better return on current and future bond-funded projects.

While the worst of the economic crisis may seem to be behind us, we cannot deviate from our commitment to fiscal responsibility and reform. As the mayor of San Francisco, I am committed to continuously investing in our neighborhoods, in our infrastructure, in public safety, in the social safety net and in our residents.

Ed Lee is the mayor of San Francisco.

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