Garza preliminary budget priorities

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Delia Garza
Posts: 52
Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2015 9:20 am

Garza preliminary budget priorities

Post by Delia Garza » Mon Aug 03, 2020 6:25 pm

This post is in response to Budget staff asking us to begin laying out our budget priorities.

The most immediate priority for our budget discussions this year is clearly how we begin reimagining public safety. It’s exciting to see so many proposals come out of the numerous conversations I’ve been part of in Council meetings and work sessions, Public Safety Committee meetings and workshops, community forums, and in other discussions with colleagues, constituents and community organizations. The proposals from colleagues to move forward on this critical issue that I’ve seen posted on the message board have all been undertaken with a lot of hard work and reflect the big-picture thinking we need to embrace and commit ourselves to if we want to achieve transformation.

We have a significant opportunity in the next few weeks to begin the process of real transformation, to fundamentally and institutionally reject injustice and build a government that truly works for all. Rather than lay out another proposal, I am committed to supporting some variation of the proposals we have so far and look forward to digging into finalizing the next step before budget approval. We cannot waste this opportunity, and so as I’ve said publicly before, I cannot vote for a budget that does not significantly reallocate funds and invest in our community. I don’t take that position lightly, but this is an historic moment that we have to be prepared to meet. The concrete ideas proposed so far have me feeling optimistic that we can get there, and I’m looking forward to the upcoming discussions and votes where we come to an alignment on these proposals. These broader proposals to restructure and reallocate APD’s budget from CM Casar, CM Flannigan, and CM Pool, as well as the complementary proposals for an Office of Violence Prevention from CM Alter and more support for mental health first response from CM Kitchen all have significant merits and can work together, and so I support a plan that incorporates all these ideas.

Because this transformation is not only a public safety conversation, I will be proposing an amendment that directly aims to fill the gap between the current food access investments in the proposed FY21 budget and the clear and persistent needs of our communities east of I-35. For my constituents who have struggled with food access and have been told they have to keep waiting for the grocery stores and basic amenities they need, particularly those in Del Valle, mobile markets like the Live Well/Vive Bien program proposed by EQUIDAD ATX is exactly the type of investment they need us to make in order to fill that gap. Proposals like this, or some I’ve heard in which private land would be donated for community gardens in Del Valle, are community-based solutions that arise organically and merit our support. I am in the process of drafting this amendment and will share publicly as soon as it’s available. This will be a significant investment, but it’s the kind of investment we can absolutely make if we move our priorities toward our community’s unmet needs.

There are several other proposals I would be proud to support, and hope we can fund them from savings realized by restructuring our policing budget. These include, but are not limited to,
--Continuing the program we began in FY20 to provide logistical support for people seeking abortion services, and ensuring that we’re doing so in a way that prioritizes equity amid a pandemic that has had inequitable impacts and created significant need for this kind of support.
--Ensuring that the Moore’s Crossing Fire Station has sufficient staffing to operate its aerial ladder and adequately serve the surrounding community.
--Making sure we’re meeting our emergency medical service needs with more ambulances and expanding the community health paramedic services.

I’m looking forward to discussing these investments in more depth, as well as planned and needed investments in anti-displacement services, affordable child care initiatives, and homelessness services.

I look forward to the conversation tomorrow,

Delia Garza
Mayor Pro Tem, District 2