The budget's opening battle - Page 4

Sparks fly from the Newsom/Daly budget battle

Sources say Peskin was irritated with Daly's budget fight and his recent Progressive Convention — both actions not made in consultation with colleagues — as well as his increasingly public spat with Mirkarimi. Yet Peskin publicly has nothing but praise for Daly and supports many of his priorities.

"We are working with the same schedule that Daly's office laid out," Peskin said, noting that a lot of the decisions about funding will depend on "what ends up coming from the state." San Francisco could still lose money from the state or federal budget. During a June 18 budget hearing, Sup. Bevan Dufty introduced a motion to amend the mayor's interim budget by appropriating $4 million for HIV/AIDS services, to be funded by General Fund reserves, for use by the Department of Public Health.

This was one of Daly's top priorities, and as the hearing proceeded, it became clear that there was a method in the former chair's apparent budget-dance madness. Newsom's budget would restore $3.8 million of the $9 million in AIDS grants lost from federal sources, with Newsom asking Congress to backfill the remaining reductions to the Ryan White Care grant. Sup. Sean Elsbernd questioned the wisdom of appropriating $4 million now, when the feds may yet cough up, and Mirkarimi questioned whether doing so would send Washington the message that it doesn't need to help us.

"It's a discussion we have every year," Controller Ed Harrington said. He recommended appropriating $4 million now and sending the following message: "Yes, we think this is important, we'll try and figure out how to fix it, but this shows it isn't easy. It's a political call rather than a technical one."

In the end, the Budget and Finance Committee voted 3–1, with Sup. Tom Ammiano (the only supervisor to publicly support Daly's alternative budget) absent and Elsbernd dissenting, to appropriate $4 million, on the condition that if additional federal and state funds are granted to backfill the Ryan White Care grant, the controller will transfer the $4 million augmentation back to the General Fund.

The same kind of balancing act is expected on Daly's other suggestions to restore funding for affordable housing and public health departments, so it's still too early to tell whether his priorities might ultimately win the war after losing the battle.*

Steven T. Jones contributed to this report.

For more details on the city budget process and a schedule of Budget and Finance Committee meetings, visit