November, 2008 E-News
As many of you know, we're in the midst of budget season again. In October and November of even-numbered years the Council halts work on most legislation to craft the city budget for the coming biennium. This is my third budget as a councilmember and the first in declining rather than expanding revenue. Not surprisingly, this year is harder. We face a better budget picture than do my colleagues across the street at King County, but, still, we're looking over pages of possible program cuts, most of which affect service to you in some fashion.
In June after a series of public meetings around town to gather input, the Council passed a resolution outlining our budget priorities as a way to signal to the Mayor what we – and by extension the greater community -- think should rise to the top in a rational, efficient budget plan. Resolution 31063 called out public safety, human services, transportation, pedestrian safety, environmental stewardship, and neighborhood planning as top budget priorities.
The Mayor presented his proposed budget to Council about a month ago. Since then Council has been piecing it apart, hearing testimony from staff and many, many constituents and identifying potential funding alternatives. In my review of the proposed budget so far, I've been happy to see the Council's priorities reflected well in an emphasis on public safety (continued funding for new police officers and youth violence prevention), new sidewalks, supportive housing for chronically homeless people, and the expansion of "safety net" programs already feeling strain of the faltering economy.
I know the next couple of years will be tough for an increasing number of people in Seattle. We'll make tough choices to trim spending this month. A few of my "must have" priorities:
- We must invest in services that keep people housed, fed and safe. Shelters and foodbanks report spikes in need. Eviction prevention and "Housing First" are solid long-term solutions. Shelters and safe day centers like the Family and Adult Service Center
- We must invest in a multi-level effort that stops teenagers from killing each other and gives youth real alternatives to trouble. There's been a lot of bad news coming from particularly from the Central and Southeast parts of our city recently. I am eager to help craft a strategy that can help divert kids from ever getting involved in violent situations in the first place.
- We can't cutoff people who have grabbed a lifeline and are making changes in their lives. I hope to include funding for creative street outreach programs such as "Get Off the Streets" and "Communities Uniting Rainier Beach," which use innovative approaches connecting young adults to services and diversion programs.
- We need to make sure Neighborhood Plan Updates are truly community-driven. I'm working to secure adequate funding to ensure Seattle's Neighborhood Plan Update Process is carried out in an effective and comprehensive manner.
There's been great advocacy from the community for a variety of programs and services -- police, shelters, food banks, neighborhood planning, ballfields and much more. Hearing from you, reading your emails and listening to your comments at public hearings helps me do my job better. Last Monday, October 27, Council held a public hearing on the budget in City Council Chambers where literally hundreds of people from all over Seattle came to testify in support of their respective causes. The passion and dedication reminds me there's fantastic work being done in every neighborhood.
I know we won't be able to fund everything we'd like. In the month ahead, I'll be scouring the budget to ensure it truly protects people and serves neighborhood affordability, safety and sustainability. Thank you for your help in getting it done.
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If you're eligible, you may have already voted, but you have friends – and have they voted? Now's the time to nudge them. Get them to the polls. By voting you do your part to feed democracy. There are a lot of other things you can do to feed democracy, but voting is fundamental. We elect ourselves to govern ourselves. Go elect someone to govern you.
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