BOSTON (CBS) – The Boston City Council has passed a revised budget by a narrow margin of 8-5 that reallocates some police funds, but some council critics say it does not meet the moment amid calls for police defunding and structural change.
“Imagine waiting decades for funding in your community and being told to wait,” said councilor Ricardo Arroyo who was among the councilors urging they go back to the drawing board and come up with a new spending blueprint.
But supporters said the time has to be now. “For us to create a city budget that reflects the values and conditions of making structural change, we have to lock in major reallocations to housing and public health at precisely the moment we need them,” said councilor Kenzie Bok, chairwoman of the Ways and Means Committee.
Supporters say the budget makes critical investments that would be lost if the budget isn’t passed and layoffs possible. But council critics say the police budget remains too high at the expense of other services, and the mayor’s diversion of $12 million in police overtime to public health programs is window dressing.
“Not nearly enough has been said about those harmed and devastated by generations of under-funding for whom this budget doesn’t go far enough and meet their needs,” said Arroyo.
The emotions at stake were expressed by councilor Lydia Edwards who reluctantly supported the budget, but worried about jobs lost to people without a voice at the negotiating table. “You’ll note the saying the last in and first out and they are our most diverse and youngest. I’m not willing to play Russian roulette in a pandemic, in a recession,” said Edwards.
Advocates have taken to the streets in recent weeks demanding a conversation about racial and economic equality and councilor Andrea Campbell believes the talk can’t wait. “How many times in our history have we told people of color to wait another time, another moment,” said Campbell.
More councilors said a better strategy was to approve the budget now and make changes later. Councilor Bok vowed to file hearings in the coming weeks about police policies and funding.