The People’s Budget of Sacramento, a new grassroots organization pushing for a redistribution of the city and county’s general funds, say initial results of their recent survey show residents want to see change.
The survey showed that about 2,000 respondents agreed they wanted equal distribution of county money to go towards public health, community services and public safety with less of an emphasis on law enforcement, the group said.
The People’s Budget says that about 70% of the county’s general fund budget is currently going towards law enforcement, courts and jails.
“Survey responses were pretty clear — folks want less money spent on law enforcement, and more money spent on things that prevent the need for law enforcement,” councilmember-elect Katie Valenzuela said. “The investment in prevention, the investment in care and mental health services, it was unequivocally clear.”
Members of The People’s Budget presented the preliminary results of the survey at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting and asked the county to consider making changes to the proposed budget for next year. Of particular note was the county’s health department slated to receive the biggest budget reduction in the upcoming year, while the sheriff’s office seeks an extra $2.1 million for body cameras.
The Board of Supervisors did not respond to requests for comments, but they’re set to approve the 2020-2021 budget next week. Supervisor Phil Serna said during this week’s presentation of the People’s Budget that he wanted its priorities included in the county’s upcoming budget discussion.
The county has previously come under fire for using the majority of its federal coronavirus aid money for the sheriff’s office. But officials said that it didn’t mean the sheriff’s office got more funding this year — instead, money allocated to them in the general fund was freed up as a result.
“If I’m honest, I don’t think immediately this sweeping change, but what I think can happen — one of the things that we requested was that — at least don’t have any cuts to public health,” Kula Koenig of the People’s Budget said. “If you have to cut somewhere, cut that from the sheriff’s budget.”
Valenzuela agreed, saying that while a total shift in budget priorities might be difficult for this year, she hoped the county would at least consider shifting some money away from the sheriff’s department.
“We recognize that this might not all happen, but that we hope this will start a trend of shifting budget priorities towards what the community is wanting to see,” Valenzuela said. “Recognizing that it might take a little time, but hoping that they’ll start with the budget they’re going to consider for next week.”
Meanwhile, the city’s budget is more evenly distributed in terms of funds for community and human services. Still, Koenig said it’s important that people continue to keep an eye on the county as well.
“The county has the health and human services for everyone, including those who live in the city of Sacramento, so what they do affects all of us,” she said. “The county is responsible for the safety net that we as a Sacramento community rely on, so if the county is not functioning properly, we all suffer.”
CapRadio provides a trusted source of news because of you. As a nonprofit organization, donations from people like you sustain the journalism that allows us to discover stories that are important to our audience. If you believe in what we do and support our mission, please donate today.