Boston City Council

Boston City Council OKs Mayor's Budget Amid Calls For Deeper Police Reform

Mayor Marty Walsh's proposed budget will reallocate 20% of the police overtime budget to social services. But some councilors reportedly said that's not enough

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The Boston City Council voted Wednesday to approve Mayor Marty Walsh's resubmitted budget, which reallocates $12 million from police department's overtime funds to social services.

During a virtual meeting, councilors voted 8-5 in favor of passing the budget, The Boston Globe reported.

"I want to thank members of the Boston City Council for passing this budget that is fiscally responsible, makes significant investments in new community-led programs, and that takes bold steps towards our pledge of creating a more just and equitable society," Walsh said in a tweet. "I look forward to our continued collaboration by listening to residents and advocates and investing and acting on the reforms needed to address structural racism."

Amid calls for police reform, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced Friday that racism is a public health crisis in the city.

Julia Mejia, one of the councilors who voted against the proposal, said it did not go far enough.

"We need to stop thinking about what is easy. We need to look at what the challenges are and rise to the occasion," Mejia said in a statement.

According to the Globe, Mejia was joined by Council President Kim Janey, as well as fellow Councilors Ricardo Arroyo, Michelle Wu and Andrea Campbell, in voting against the budget.

The vote came after Wu made public a trove of documents that show the Boston Police Department spent more than $200,000 on military-style equipment, including sniper rifles and tasers, during the first five months of 2020, according to the Boston Globe.

Wu had vowed to vote against the budget on Twitter Tuesday, citing changes from the pre-pandemic budget that, "don’t represent the type of transformative investments that our community members, activists and residents have been reaching out for."

Walsh resubmitted the revised $3.61 billion budget last week for the 2021 fiscal year, taking into account a projected $65 million revenue losses due to the coronavirus pandemic. The projected losses from the pandemic are more than double those from his original proposal in April.

Wu went on to argue that the budget, "doesn't go far enough," to create police accountability, fund public health and invest in housing stability, education equity and economic access, particularly for communities of color.

Walsh is calling for a 20% diversion of the $60 million police overtime budget to support police reforms and bolster social services. The proposal comes amid calls to defund police departments, a rallying cry for protesters who want funds to be diverted from law enforcement to social services to support communities impacted by systemic racism. Walsh has also since declared racism a public health crisis.

Calls for change continued in Cambridge where hundreds participated in a Black Lives Matter march.

Here's where the reallocated funds will go, according to the proposed budget:

  • $3 million for the BPHC to begin implementing the eight strategies he outlined in his declaration
  • $1 million to support trauma teams and counseling services at the BPHC
  • $2 million in new funding for community-based programs, such as violence intervention grants, youth programming, language and food access, Immigrant Advancement, the Age Strong Commission and the Human Rights Commission
  • $2 million for additional public mental health services through a partnership between the Boston Police Department and Boston Medical Center Emergency Services Program or BEST
  • $2 million to support economic development initiatives to support minority and women owned businesses
  • $2 million to provide additional housing supports and youth homelessness programs

Walsh also bolstered the Boston Public Health Commission's budget with a $13 million increase to $106 million in what the administration deems "especially vital," to maintain an effective coronavirus response.

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