A value I hold dearest as an elected official is that our budget is a moral document. When I first received the Mayor’s proposed budget a couple weeks ago, I let Portlanders know how I would be analyzing it. So I have been analyzing the budget through a lens of ensuring the primary focus is on people and stabilizing our most vulnerable community members. To build a moral budget takes time and care.
So I want to begin my closing remarks by being honest: I wish Mayor Wheeler had given the most diverse council in Portland’s history more of an opportunity to shape his proposed budget.
This has been a rushed process, Council was not brought in early, and it’s just not right for the public and elected leaders to have only 2 weeks to weigh in on an almost $6 billion budget. This is now my 3rd budget process with Mayor Wheeler, and little has changed. I sincerely hope we can work together to improve this process to make it truly collaborative and to provide real community engagement going forward.
As disappointed as I am in the process that has unfolded and that my amendment to fully fund and expand the Portland Street Response citywide was voted down, this budget has been significantly improved by amendments proposed by both myself and my Council colleagues.
I do appreciate that Mayor Wheeler did not propose cutting any Portland Fire & Rescue stations in his budget. I also appreciate that this budget does not add ongoing funds back into the Portland Police Bureau after council reallocated money from the bureau into the Portland Street Response and other community investments last year.
I also want to appreciate all my new colleagues going through their first budget cycle for their contributions during this short period of time. These last couple weeks have been a marathon.
After voting on amendments, I’m happy to see this budget include:
- Funding for staff support for the voter approved police oversight board.
- Funding support for alternative shelter program to allow safe sleeping options for those currently sleeping on our streets.
- Data and transparency requirements before the expansion of unarmed Public Safety Support Specialists (PS3s) in PPB
- Allocates funding to support a Truth and Reconciliation process between the Portland Police Bureau and community members of the City of Portland.
- Increases resources to the City African American Network
- Increases funding for the Gateway Center for Domestic Violence Services
- Directs PBOT to develop new revenue sources that reflect Portland’s climate goals and addresses the bureaus structural deficit
- Continues to fund the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Healthy Businesses program, allowing the creative use of space to provide outdoor dining, drinking, and more - providing a lifeline to small businesses operating during the pandemic.
- Increased money to Neighborhood District Coalitions and reinstated the small grant program to Neighborhood Associations.
- Funded a citywide anti-white supremacy training for city staff
This was the best compromise we could get in the short period of time we had. There are aspects of this budget that I support 100% and there are some serious disappointments. Any budget that 5 people are voting on is going to include things we each like and don’t like. But this is the beginning and not the end. I will continue to push forward what I agree with and push back against what I disagree with.
I will be holding my colleagues to their word that they support Portland Street Response and look forward to our continued work together to make this program the best it can possibly be going forward. I am so proud of this program and I believe in this team. I believe Portland Fire & Rescue is where this program should stay. While I’m disappointed PSR’s expansion has been slowed down, I’m confident that as we continue the Lents area phase of the pilot that we will prove beyond any reasonable doubt that we have the right model in place and this program is ready to expand citywide with the appropriate funding.
As a city, we are working our way back from crisis. We are still in the middle of negotiating ourselves through a worldwide pandemic. I believe that we can build back a better and more equitable Portland and I am committed to working with all Portlanders and my colleagues to do that. I still believe that we can build one Portland, where everyone has access to the same levels of services and are treated with respect. You can count on me to continue to work towards that vision every day.
I accept the improvements my Council colleagues have made to this budget and the many amendments I introduced that were passed, and while this is a hard one for me, due to my Portland Street Response amendment not receiving support today, I ultimately will vote Aye.