More than half of the Boston City Council’s 12 members indicated Wednesday they would not support acting Mayor Kim Janey’s revised $3.76 billion budget for the next fiscal year without revisions.
The council received the latest version of the budget with just one week left to pass or reject it. The new fiscal year begins on July 1.
Councilor Kenzie Bok, who oversees the budget as chair of the council’s Ways and Means committee, said the process will now involve additional work sessions and hearings in a last-minute attempt to reach consensus.
Of the councilors who opposed the budget as it is now written, Andrea Campbell, a rival for the seat Janey temporarily holds, was one of the most outspoken.
In a written statement, Campbell said: “This budget does not meet the urgency of this moment — particularly in necessary action on police reform, addressing our city’s opioid and homelessness crisis particularly at Mass & Cass, and ensuring all our BPS students are getting the public education they deserve. Acting Mayor Janey is attempting to pass a status quo budget, one that is not much different from the one she opposed last year on the Council."
Campbell said she was denied a meeting with Janey and would be a firm “no” when the council votes next Wednesday.
The revised plan represents an increase of 4.2 percent from last year’s budget. The additional funds support things like a new Office of Participatory Budgeting, increased funding for the Office of Police Accountability and Transparency, and increased funding for city-sponsored youth jobs.
Police funding is down by about 5 percent, or $21 million, when compared with last year.
The public school budget maintains a 3 percent increase over last year.
At Wednesday’s council meeting, only Bok and Hyde Park councilor Ricardo Arroyo said they intended to vote “yes” on the budget.
Nearly all the chamber’s other members — apart from At-Large Councilor and mayoral candidate Michell Wu who remained silent — brought up spending items they said were given short shrift, or not considered at all throughout this year’s budget process.
“There’s some good things that we talk about, broad-based themes, in this resubmitted budget, but it doesn’t get to the crux of what we need to be focusing on,” said Jamaica Plain Councilor Matt O’Malley pointing to the environmental problems of heat islands, costal resiliency and trash pickup.
Others, like East Boston councilor Lydia Edwards, offered more pointed criticisms of Janey, but still said there’s space for negotiation.
Edwards said that there was a "huge difference" in negotiating last year's budget with then mayor Marty Walsh and this year's process with Janey, who Edwards suggested was exclusionary.
“The mayor, last year, called consistently [and] met with every single person, including his would-be opponents,” Edwards said.
During council debate, Edwards said of Ways and Means chair Bok: “I would state, quite frankly, you have done more for this budget than the acting Mayor has.”
Edwards contended that Janey has shown "a lack of leadership."
Among Edward's budget concerns were funding to alleviate the city’s housing crisis, purchasing properties surrendered through pandemic financial hardships and language access services.
"I invite all of us to put the egos [and] political ambitions to the side and get this done,” Edwards said.
At-Large councilor Annissa Essaibi George, another mayoral hopeful, said in a statement she only met with Janey once after the budget had been refiled.
The council rejected a surprise procedural vote brought by Bok in an attempt to get everyone’s basic positions firmly on the record, suggesting that there is still much negotiating to be done.
“Today was an important step to expressing the fact that in order for us to get a budget passed in the city of Boston, the council really needs to step into a leadership role,” Bok said after the tense meeting. “My intention as the Ways and Means Chair is [to] spend the next week getting to ‘yes’ on a budget,” she said.
If no budget is passes next Thursday, city funding reverts to a monthly apportionment of one-twelfth of last year’s budget until a new one is passed. Any proposed funding increases for the new year would not go into effect without a new spending plan.