Last night, after a boisterous public hearing and some more contentious, 7-6 votes, the Council adopted the 2015 budget. Here are some key takeaways:
The community came out in force.
In addition to tens of emails and phone calls to Council Members, more than sixty
people came to speak to the Council about the importance of investing in clean energy and equity. Only one person spoke in favor of the levy reduction.
We won back most of the losses from last week.
The Council voted unanimously to restore many of the cuts that were made last week. Most importantly to me, we restored all of the funding for the Clean Energy Partnership, most of the funding for the One Minneapolis Fund, and a small amount of the funding for homeownership counseling and foreclosure prevention. I do not think these wins would have been possible without all of the pressure the community brought to bear.
This budget includes a lot of progressive wins.
There is a lot of progressive stuff in this budget that was not in contention last night. This includes the City's first positions to address racial equity, body cameras for police, a citywide organics collection program, dedicated funding for protected bikeways, our first stable source of funding for improvements to bicycle and pedestrian safety, and more.
We weren't able to craft a real compromise
. As I said above, there were a number of 7-6 votes last night. The votes were the same as they were last week: Council Members Glidden, Cano, Bender, Quincy, Andrew Johnson and me against Council Members Reich, Frey, Barb Johnson, Yang, Warsame, Goodman and Palmisano. This slim majority of the Council voted to get rid of two positions in the Communications divison that were intended to help with communicating with communities that do not speak English as a first language, and to put this money into a further - unnecessary and unwise - levy reduction. A substitute motion offered by Council Member Glidden to put the budget savings in a "rainy day" fund failed 7-6, despite the fact that one of the Council Members who voted against it said - twice - at last week's budget meeting that he would support such a motion. That same majority rejected multiple attempts to completely restore the cuts to homeownership counseling and foreclosure prevention or the One Minneapolis Fund using the one-time dollars for marketing the convention center (which is, in my view, a much lower priority). I believed that we could come together with a compromise that could get the support of all thirteen of us, and was disappointed that that didn't happen. I stand by my quote in the Star Tribune
article: It almost feels like it was a power struggle going on here, rather than an effort to make a budget for a better city. It certainly felt like the cuts to the non-English speaking communications positions were directed at one Council Member in particular, and I have serious concerns about the Council making policy this way.
Due to my disappointment in the Council's failure to come together and compromise, and the damage that this whole process has done to the working relationships we have, I voted against this budget.
I look forward to working with all of my colleagues to rebuild our capacity to work constructively together over the next months and years.