Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has submitted a revised budget for the 2021 fiscal year in which he calls for diverting some police overtime funds to support police reforms and bolster social services.
Walsh resubmitted a $3.61 billion budget for the 2021 fiscal year, Monday, which his administration says takes into account $65 million in projected revenue losses due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The projected losses from the pandemic are more than double those from his original proposal in April, which estimated $30 million in losses as a result of COVID-19.
The new budget involves reallocating 20%, or $12 million, of the Boston Police Department's overtime budget to invest in equity and inclusion after Walsh on Friday declared racism a public health crisis.
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
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 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.
The investment will ensure a fully-funded BPHC, Emergency Medical Service and Office of Recovery Services for next year and fund the initial costs associated with the mayor's recent declaration of racism as a public health crisis, according to his office.
"With this budget, we have an opportunity to seize the moment that is before us to make investments that are grounded in equity, inclusion and that are intentional about directing funding to places where we know it will have the greatest impact in benefiting our residents," Walsh said in a statement.
The recommended budget represents an increase of $119 million, or 3.4 percent, over the current fiscal year, and the re-submission follows over 30 city council hearings targeting investments and cost-savings.
The proposal includes an additional $35 million in cost-saving measures across city departments through a hiring freeze on non-essential vacant positions for six months, revisions to fixed costs like debt service, non-personal reductions and a revised snow removal appropriations based on updated projections for average actual spending.
Walsh is recommending the adoption of a Boston Public Schools budget of $1.26 billion, representing an $80 million or 7% increase over last year's budget, marking the largest proposed BPS budget in the city's history.
Public education spending remains over 40% of the City budget. Education spending is up over $440 million on an annual basis since FY14 and per-pupil spending at BPS will approach $22,000, more than a 30% increase over the past six years.
The budget also maintains Walsh's commitment of $500 million over five years to create thousands of homes across the city with an $18 million investment in new operating and capital funds dedicated to creating affordable home-ownership and rental opportunities, including Boston's first City-funded rental voucher program.
The city of Boston was recently named by Moody's as one of the best prepared cities to handle a national recession.
"I am proud that thanks to years of careful fiscal stewardship, we are able to continue making smart and strategic investments at a time when many residents need it most," Walsh said. "I believe that with responsible fiscal planning, with investments in the equity, health and well-being of our residents, and with our spirit of courage and collaboration, we will emerge together from these crises stronger and more resilient than before."