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Milwaukee residents are a step closer to claiming a historic win over the city’s 2020 budget.
Today, the Common Council passed Amendment 42L, also known as the omnibus amendment. The amendment adds $240,000 for Birthing Moms Pilot Project, funds a Healthy Food Access coordinator, funds four Operations Drivers Workers and restores funding for bi-weekly street sweeping, $72,000 to increase pay for city EARN and LEARN participents, and $300,000 for Emergency Housing capital for lead displacement, homeless, and sex workers.
“This amendment shows the Common Council listened to the residents at the Joint Public hearing, who asked for more investment in EARN and LEARN and housing,” said Devin Anderson, Lead Organizer for the African-American Roundtable.
The amendment reduces police overtime budget by $145,669, reduces police capital budget by $300,000, increases the stormwater fee by 1.15%, and eliminates $110,000 for the Bublr special fund.
Amendment 38D delays a 2020 police recruit class by a pay period which cuts $136,118 to increase the capacity of the Fire and Police Commission which oversees the Milwaukee Police Department.
Amendment 98 provides $300,000 for Violence Interrupters, by cutting police overtime by $300,000.
This is a critical step for community advocates who have pushed for divestment from policing in Milwaukee and a reinvestment of those funds towards community resources. The LiberateMKE campaign – which proposes that the $25 million divestment come from detailed cuts to police overtime, vehicles and equipment, and building renovations – surveyed Milwaukee residents on where reinvestments are needed most. The overwhelming majority indicated that communities need youth employment and transportation, economic opportunity through job training and financial literacy, and non-police violence prevention projects such as violence interrupter programs.
“All together, the police department will receive around $15 million dollars less than what they’d originally requested, denying a ballooning police budget,” said Rick Banks Political Director/Organizer at Black
Leaders Organizing for Communities (BLOC). “We applaud the Alders who heeded the words of community members that spending on enforcement at the expense of neighborhood investment is not acceptable. However, we recognize that MUCH more investment in community needs to be made and that this is just the start of continued organizing efforts.”
“This budget cycle is the beginning of the shift in conversations, actions, and resources in our city and the continual conversations we’re having in our communities about reimagining public safety,” said Markasa Tucker, Director of the African American Roundtable. “Addressing public safety includes resourcing the needs of our community for affordable quality housing, summer youth employment and non-police violence prevention. The mayor was a part of two hearings where the community shared their desires to resource very specific initiatives, it is our hope he agrees to this budget that the community and Common Council fought so hard to have.”
The Mayor has seven business days to issue any specific vetoes. 10 of the 15 alders will have to vote to override any veto by the Mayor. LiberateMKE is hopeful that the Mayor will sign this budget and truly support opportunities for communities to thrive. LiberateMKE will host a community event to discuss next steps and celebrate the work and organizing they did throughout this budget process.