Another bloody budget - Page 4

Newsom's latest budget slashes social services and would leave a long legacy of deficits

|
()
Mayor Gavin Newsom released his city budget proposal June 1, downplaying its most adverse impacts
PHOTO BY LUKE THOMAS

To offset that revenue loss, Avalos has proposed a tax on alcohol sold in bars and Gullicksen is proposing the city legalize illegal housing units that are in habitable condition for property owners willing to pay an amnesty fee.

Some housing advocates were also struck by the timing of proposing condo conversion fees while also eliminating the Ellis Eviction Defense Program. "We're really the only ones doing this," Shaw noted. He said the program is crucial because it serves low-income tenants, many of whom are monolingual Chinese or Spanish speakers who lack the ability to pay for private attorneys to resist aggressive landlords.

 

PRIVATIZATION PROPOSALS RETURN

The Department of Children, Youth. and Families budget would be reduced by 20 percent under Newsom's budget, with the greatest cuts affecting after school and youth leadership programs. Roughly a $3 million cut will result in the loss of around 300 subsidized slots for after school programs, said Boilard of Coleman Youth Advocates. Another $3 million is expected to come out of violence-prevention programs for troubled youth; an additional $1 million would affect youth jobs programs.

Patricia Davis, a Child Protective Services employee who lives in the Mission District with her two teenage sons, said she was concerned about the implications for losses to youth programs, particularly during the summer. "You can imagine what's going to happen this summer," she said. "I feel that a lot of kids are going to do a lot of things that they have no business doing."

Davis, who says she'll have to look for a new job come Sept. 30 because the federal stimulus package funding that supports her position will run out, said she was not happy to hear that police officers would be getting raises just as that summer school programs are being threatened with closure. "Couldn't the 4 percent [raise] go somewhere else — like to the children?" she wondered.

Meanwhile, privatization proposals are causing anxiety for SEIU Local 1021 members, who recently gave millions in wage concessions and furloughs along with other public employees to help balance the budget. A proposal to contract out for jail health services cropped up last year and was shot down by the board, but it's back again.

"When you make it a for-profit enterprise, the bottom line is the profit. It's not about the health care," SEIU Local 1021 organizer Gabriel Haaland told us. "It isn't the same quality of care."

Haaland said he believes the mayor's assumption that the proposal could save $13 million should be closely examined. Other privatization schemes would contract out for security at city museums and hospitals.

Institutional police in the mental health ward at SF General Hospital and other sensitive facilities are well trained and experienced with difficult situations so, Haaland said, "the workers feel a lot safer" than they would with private contractors.

Regarding Newsom's privatization proposal, Avalos said the board was "opposed last year and the year before, and we'll oppose [them] this year."

In the coming weeks, Avalos and other members of the Budget and Finance Committee will carefully go over Newsom's proposed budget — which is now being sized up by Budget Analyst Harvey Rose's office — and solicit input from the public. Chances are, they'll get an earful.

"People are scared. They are scared to death right now," Boilard said. "As it is, people's hours are being reduced. And it's getting harder and harder to find a job because so many people are out of work that the level of competition has gotten really fierce. This is the time that we need to invest in safety net services for young people and families more than ever — and all those services and programs and relationships that people depend on are disappearing."

Steven T. Jones and Kaitlyn Paris contributed to this report.