San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and other city leaders today hailed collaboration between officials who are sometimes at odds on policy priorities in reaching a deal to close a $575.6 million budget deficit.
Newsom signed the city’s $6.6 billion budget at a City Hall ceremony this morning attended by several supervisors and other city officials involved in the lengthy, and at times publicly contentious, budget process over the past several weeks.
“I think it’s a very good budget, considering the reality, and the challenges and burdens that were placed on us,” Newsom said.
“The spirit of collaboration is alive and well here,” Newsom said, adding that this was bureaucracy “working as it should.”
Some supervisors had publicly complained that Newsom’s original budget, which he presented June 1, had disproportionately favored police and fire department budgets over health and social services.
The Board of Supervisors Budget Committee responded by proposing nearly $83 million in cuts to police, fire and sheriff’s department budgets, infuriating police and firefighters, whose chiefs warned that layoffs and fire station closures would compromise public safety.
The mayor and the supervisors eventually agreed on a deal July 1 that restored $43.7 million in health and social services, preventing the closures of recreation centers and restoring some mental and behavioral health services, substance abuse treatment, violence prevention, and after-school and other youth programs.
It also prevented the closure of the Community Justice Center, a combined court and social services center that Newsom supports.
Though the budget still resulted in dramatic cuts to many city departments and hundreds of layoffs of city employees, Newsom said today that it was still able to prevent any pink slips for teachers, nurses, police officers and firefighters.
It also preserved the city’s “social service safety net” and expanded its universal health care program, he said.
“We did have some significant differences to work through,” Board of Supervisors President David Chiu noted. He said the collaborative process allowed the protection of “core city services” as well as “the most vulnerable in our San Francisco community.”
“I really feel that we have a budget that reflects the best of San Francisco,” Budget Committee Chair John Avalos said.
Though the disagreements captured headlines, Newsom said they represented only a small fraction of the total budget.
“We’re 98-percent-plus committed to the same substantive goals, the same functional goals,” he said.
Newsom did warn that the recent state budget deal may result in more cuts to San Francisco, including an estimated $20.1 million to the Health Department and $15.1 million to the Human Services Department.