Boston Mayor Michelle Wu Rejected Lawmakers’ Attempts to Slash Police Budgets, Veterans Services

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu rejected a proposal from the City Council that would have cut funding for veteran services and the city’s police department.

“Our budget must be responsive to the needs of our constituents, fiscally responsible, and built on a foundation of effective delivery of City services that are central to our resident’s quality of life,” said Wu in a letter to Boston City Council members Friday, according to a report from the Boston Globe.

The Democrat mayor’s letter comes after the council approved an operating budget of $4.2 billion for the city that would have reduced funding for the Boston Police Department by $31 million and $900,000 in cuts to veteran services.

In addition to the proposed cuts was an $8 million increase in funding for participatory budgeting, a city process that allows for further engagement on how residents of Boston spend tax dollars.

The figures broadly differed from Wu’s proposed budget, which only included $2 million for the participatory budget process. In the mayor’s letter to members, she said the council’s proposed cuts to the police budget “are illusory, as the City is obligated to cover salary and overtime expenses incurred by the department.”

Mayor Wu’s veto means the budget will now be returned to the council, requiring two-thirds of the members to override her. With 12 members serving on the council, it would mean that eight members would need to vote to override the veto. Seven of the ten members voted to approve the proposal sent to Wu.

Tania Fernandes Anderson, a councilor and chair of Boston’s Ways and Means Committee, told the Boston Globe Friday that the council’s proposed cuts would not have led to any employees of the city losing their jobs and instead argued that her analysis found that the Boston Police Department could have close to $25 million in extra funds next year.

Fernandes Anderson also blasted Mayor Wu’s administration for not providing more transparency and said the “administration does not work well with the council.”

Councilor expressed regret about proposed cuts to veterans’ services

However, Fernandes Anderson, who has a son serving in the Marines, expressed regret about the proposed cuts to veterans’ services and noted that funding wouldn’t be affected because the proposed cuts were a line item eligible to be reimbursed by the state.

“I want to extend my apology; I don’t want to send that message,” Fernandes Anderson said.
Mayor Wu’s veto was also criticized by the Better Budget Alliance, a group that has advocated for more participatory budgeting.

“It is unacceptable that Mayor Wu vetoed a higher $10 million [allotment] for participatory budgeting and used false criticisms to undo the council’s critical investments in Boston’s underfunded working class, BIPOC communities,” said the alliance in a statement, adding that Wu “has chosen to protect unused police funds and excessive overtime in the bloated BPD budget instead of funding real community investments.”

The city’s biggest police union praised the decision to veto the proposal.

“Undoubtedly, we’re grateful the mayor saw fit to reject the council’s misguided efforts to dramatically and disproportionately impact the BPD budget and, by extension, the department’s ability to protect and serve the people of Boston effectively,” said the president of the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association, Larry Calderone, in a statement, according to the Boston Globe.