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Politics & Policy

San Francisco parents furious with Breed’s proposed budget cuts

A child attending the emergency child care center at Excelsior Playground in San Francisco works on online learning on May 11, 2020. | Lea Suzuki/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Hundreds of early child care and food resource providers, employees, volunteers and clients showed up at Tuesday’s meeting of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to oppose $50 million in cuts made to the budget for the city’s Department of Early Childhood.

The department is getting a 13.5% haircut in Mayor London Breed's planned budget, one of the largest departmental cuts by both dollar amount and percentage next fiscal year. The Port of San Francisco and the Mayor’s Office face similar cuts. 

The proposed cuts represent, in part, changes that Breed wants to make to “Baby C,” a tax on commercial property leases approved by voters as Proposition C in 2018. 

Breed’s office is proposing to suspend the tax for subleased spaces in order to incentivize the opening of new businesses Downtown. The move would reduce overall revenue from the tax by $17 million a year and requires passage of additional legislation by a majority of the board.

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Supporters of early childcare programs contend the cuts threaten infrastructure for child care facilities, a future pathway for the training of child care educators and the ability to ensure that child care teacher wages can keep up with inflation, among other needs. 

Dozens of supporters offered testimony during public comment, in English, Chinese, Spanish, Tagalog and other languages, taking up almost three hours. 

Jenny Pearlman, speaking on behalf of the Family Resource Center Alliance, urged supervisors “to find other ways to balance the budget rather than taking a disproportionate share from funding for children and families”—adding that cuts to the early child care agency are “the largest of any major department.” 

Clare Grady, a mother and District 2 resident described the cuts as “Pixar-villain-level nonsense” that would make it “even more difficult for low- and middle-income citizens to raise our families here in the city.” 

Jeff Cretan, a spokesperson for Breed, told The Standard that collections of the tax from previous years had given the city’s early child care agency a significant surplus and that there will be no reduction in current levels of services. 

“It’s not impacting any of our current programs, and filling those office vacancies with more tax-paying businesses will help solidify those services in the long run,” Cretan said.