Mayor Karen Bass unveils $13B proposed city budget, highlighting LA's homeless crisis

Mayor Karen Bass unveiled her $13 billion proposed city budget for the 2023-24 fiscal year with funding priorities focused on the city's homelessness crisis, supporting public safety and advancing a "new L.A."

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"There is a difference between spending and investing," Bass said during a news conference. "There is a difference between spending and investing. This budget makes investments in bringing people inside and public safety, and other areas that will lead a return in terms of saving lives, in terms of quality of life and better neighborhoods."

The mayor's proposed spending plan projects short-term stability, but at a slower than historical growth rate in the city's tax revenues of only 2.4%. The overall general fund budget will grow by 5.6%. in part due to a $115 million transfer from the reserve fund. Bass' budget proposal includes reserves of 10.03%, just above the 10% target set in the city's financial policies.

Bass emphasized her budget is "strong" and fiscally solvent, saying it will allow her administration to set ambitious goals for the city's future.

The proposed budget commits an "unprecedented" $1.3 billion to address the city's homelessness crisis. In addition, nearly $250 million will scale up the mayor's Inside Safe program citywide, a plan to bring people inside from tents and encampments, with the goal of housing 17,000 Angelenos in the first year.

Through an executive directive and in coordination with the city attorney, Bass' office is working to provide thousands of properties and units for housing for those who are homeless. She said more than 3,000 city-owned properties are being evaluated for housing use.

"And, together with the City Attorney, we are taking bold action to preserve and rehabilitate nearly 2,000 units of housing that the Skid Row Housing Trust said they could no longer manage," Bass said.

Among her funding priorities, Bass said she will work to bolster the Los Angeles Police Department's rank as the number of LAPD officers continues to decrease with concerns it may drop below 9,000. Her spending plan also includes about $1 million to expedite the application process for candidates looking to join the LAPD. The city is also developing an incentive program that will provide bonuses of up to $15,000 for new officers and lateral recruitment.

"This budget supports urgent efforts to also grow the police department to make up for attrition to reach an end of the year size of 2,500 (new) officers," Bass said. "This is an ambitious goal, but we must be bold to change the downward trend in the size of the LAPD as we work to restore the department to its full size."

She also hinted at expanding the city's mental health crisis teams and funding new Mayor's Office of Community Safety, aimed at building a force of community intervention workers, social workers, clinical psychologists and other experts to respond when law enforcement is not required.

"I ask Angelenos to participate with our new Office of Community Safety -- please attend our community meetings, respond to our surveys and polling, so that you are empowered to help decide what your neighborhood needs to be safe," Bass said.

Bass intends to boost staffing the city's fire department, L.A. city workers, and the city's animal services department.