Systemic problem with SF’s budget

I’ll just come out and say it: There’s a systemic fallacy with our city’s budget.

Why is it that we have the world’s brightest minds right here in San Francisco, and our own city government can’t even balance its books?

A $100 million deficit is, compared to our $8.9 billion budget, a fairly small amount. But when we’re asked to further cut critical city services while tech companies get multi-million dollar tax cuts, something is incredibly wrong.

Because of my experience on staff in the Mayor’s Budget Office during the recent recession, I know firsthand that our budget is The City’s chief document that outlines priorities and serves as the driving force moving our city forward — or backward, as the case might be.

And truthfully, our Board of Supervisors hardly gets an opportunity to weigh in on the budget because, as it stands in the City Charter, they’re allowed only a few short weeks to review and discuss.

The people need an opportunity to participate in our city’s budget.

That’s why I’m proposing a charter amendment to move the mayor’s budget deadline from June 1 to April 1, so that the Board of Supervisors has more time to deliberate — and San Francisco residents have a greater opportunity to make their voices heard.

All too often the underserved and marginalized communities are shut out of the political process. As Supervisor for District 1, I would
hold community meetings to engage residents on their priorities and ideas for making our city more affordable and moving our communities forward.

We can’t have million-dollar giveaways when our vital city services are not fully funded, when we can’t provide enough shelter for our growing homeless population, when Muni still doesn’t run on time and when our shrinking middle-class families get tossed out.

San Francisco needs to get its priorities straight.

That starts with making our city budget more open and transparent, expanding community-based budgeting and having public meetings at more accessible times and locations, so that more voices can be heard in City Hall.

Let’s call it the People’s Budget.

Please sign my petition to amend our City Charter, so that our Board of Supervisors and the people of San Francisco have a greater opportunity to make their voices heard. By working together, we can help make our city more affordable and welcoming to all residents.

Jonathan Lyens is president of the FDR Democratic Club and a candidate for District 1 Supervisor. For more information, visit

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