On Tues. Aug. 1, Demand a Budget for the Rest of Us!
Garza’s “Back to Basics” Budget swings Austin back to the past, when the powerful people who ran the city:
- Criminalized minor infractions, and used police as debt collectors when people couldn’t pay fines
- Thought charities, not government, should be responsible for assisting the poorest among us
- Jailed people with mental illness, substance abuse and poverty, without regard for the new burden a criminal record creates
- Resourced basic services in West Austin while the East Side deteriorated
- Traded community-supported investments on the East Side for more police with sham oversight if police said it was necessary.
The Garza-proposed FY 2023-24 Austin budget:
- Cuts millions in direct support to families;
- Increases police funding while blocking voter-mandated oversight reforms;
- Dilutes the power of the Equity, Sustainability, Civil Rights and Resilience departments by burying them in larger departments; and
- Fails to fund community investments proposed by the Community Investment Budget coalition.
Come to City Hall and testify against the proposed budget and FOR amendments that will:
- put the money where it can address the urgent problems of today,
- preserve the incremental equity gains of the last decade, and
- ensure that the city implements long overdue police oversight enacted by the voters.
Not only did Garza cut millions in assistance to those most in need, his budget left your elected Council members fighting for every dollar to allocate to their constituents in the regular budget cycle. Austin is booming and tax revenues are rising. Where did all the money go?
For starters, Garza wants to increase the reserve fund by tens of millions over previous levels, setting aside a higher percentage of the overall budget than last year. This means that roughly $40M that Council should be spending to prevent evictions, secure adequate maintenance for our expanding park networks, support crime victims and much more is just going to sit in the bank. Your elected Council Member needs to stand up against this unnecessary maneuver.
AND this budget increases the police department budget by almost $32M. Much of this increase is due to civilian staff transfers FROM other departments TO the police department. That’s right. Garza proposes to move HR people from the HR department to the police department, along with public information people and building services staff. Some of these reorganizations will have a negative impact on transparency because records held by the police department are sealed into the infamous “g-file” and become a barrier to better oversight and accountability.
So LESS money for needy families and MORE money for police, while critical needs like additional parks staff and wrap around services for the soon-to-come-on-line housing for the unhoused are starved. This is exactly how budgets were handled back in the 1990s, and it has taken us decades of incremental improvements to change that trajectory.
Come to City Hall and demand progress not regress in 2023.