LA Mayor Karen Bass signs city's revised $13B budget
LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass signed the city's revised $13 billion budget for fiscal year 2023-24, which she said charts a new course for the city -- one that is "stronger, happier, healthier and safer."
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Mayor Karen Bass unveils $13B proposed city budget, highlighting LA's homeless crisis
The budget will take effect July 1.
"Just last month, I stood in this room and said that the budget was being presented as a reflection of our values and invest in the most critical needs," Bass said. "I also said that I was confident that the relationship that we had built with a City Council that we would have a collaborative process.
"That's what we have here today -- that we come together united to sign the budget."
There is a difference between spending and investing, she added, and this budget makes investments to bring people inside, improve public safety and other areas that will "net a return in terms of lives saved, in terms of the quality of life and better neighborhoods, and that will save the city in the long run."
She thanked Council President Paul Krekorian and City Councilman Bob Blumenfield, chair of the council's Budget, Finance and Innovation Committee, and the rest of the Council for "locking arms" with her and approve a budget that "will bring the urgency to the crisis we face."
City Council President Paul Krekorian said the budget invests in "basic infrastructure and quality of life." The budget will fund the basic services that people in Los Angeles need, such as improving the environment and lays the foundation for economic recovery post COVID, he added.
Pro Temp Councilman Curren Price reiterated the budget represents "our shared valued, shared commitment and sheer determination to get the job done."
The mayor signed the revised $13 billion budget following the City Council's vote earlier this week to approve its amended version of her originally proposed spending plan earlier this week.
After weeks of deliberations, hours of public comment and final revisions, the Council voted 13-1 on May 18 to approve its amended version of the mayor's budget. The final version includes an unprecedented $1.3 billion to address housing and homelessness and about $3.2 billion for the Los Angeles Police Department.
Krekorian said in a statement that the council "built on the broad outline of the mayor's proposed budget" with amendments to ensure "transparency and accountability" in the city's spending. The 2023-24 budget tops $13 billion for the first time, a $1.31 billion, or 11% increase, form the prior fiscal year and includes $566 million in a reserve fund.
Councilwoman Eunissess Hernandez was the lone "no" vote. She said while there are some "important investments" in the budget, it "fell far short" of meeting the needs of Angelenos.
"We talked over and over about how we can uplift and fund these desperately needed programs and services because we wanted to create something that reflected the needs of a very diverse city," Hernandez told her colleagues the day of the vote.
"I have to say that I'm disappointed with the outcome of this process. When we have a budget that has 25% of our money going to policing, we're not creating a budget that is reflective of our values and the demands that we get every day from our constituents."
Bass said she has not been able to talk with Hernandez about the budget, as the councilwoman was visiting Vienna alongside Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson to learn about different housing models.
Other Council members supported the budget and applauded the investments outlined within. Councilman Hugo Soto-Martinez in a statement said it was the "most progressive budget in the history of Los Angeles."
He noted direct funding for the LAPD decreased by about $22 million compared to last year, and the budget will invest $16 million in funding for alternative crisis response programs, compared to just $8 million last year.
Among the significant items in the budget are those addressing the homelessness emergency, including $250 million for the mayor's Inside Safe program, with $65.7 million allocated initially and $184.3 million to be released as the funds are expended. Once the Inside Safe account drops below $25 million, the account would be automatically replenished up to $50 million.
The plan provides City Council with the ability to halt the replenishment of the Inside Safe account, for example, if members wanted more information about how the funds are being expended or details of ongoing operations. Bass' office would need to provide biweekly progress reports starting June 1, as well.
"That gives the mayor authority and access to the funds to be able to move forward with haste and nothing holding back, but it also gives the council that role, that they are charged with in this charger, to have that oversight and accountability," Blumenfield said.
The budget will invest in affordable and supportive housing, funding for more personnel -- police, firefighters, emergency personnel, unarmed mental health responders and civilian staff -- and makes "needed investments" in pedestrian, traffic safety and city infrastructure.
With the revised budget, the Council and the mayor seek to restore LAPD staffing to 9,500 officers, at the minimum, with two full classes of recruits in training and additional funding to return retired police officers to active duty for 12 months, hire additional civilian personnel and increase staffing for 911 dispatch services.
About $1 million is slated to expedite the application process for candidates looking to join the LAPD. The city's budget will also fund an incentive program providing bonuses of up to $15,000 for new officers and lateral recruitment.
"We are going to hire this many officers. Even it seems ambitious, when we leaned in and said yes, we are going to fully fund that," Blumenfield said. "We are going to fully fund our police department."
Other highlights, the councilman noted, were investments to address the issue "of our time" -- climate change. The budget invests more than $25 million to decarbonization of city buildings and electrifying the city's fleet of vehicles.