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Politics & Policy

Despite $800M deficit, Breed wants more money for cops, firefighters

Four police officers are gathered near patrol cars with flashing lights. The officers are engaged in discussions, phone calls, and examining documents. In the background, there is a "Carriage Inn" building.
The San Francisco Police Department and other public safety agencies would get a bump in their budgets under Mayor London Breed’s proposal. | Source: Jason Henry for The Standard

Despite facing an $800 million deficit over the next two years, Mayor London Breed is proposing that the city increase funding for its public safety agencies, a move that will almost certainly get pushback from progressive critics during budget deliberations in the coming weeks.

The bumps being suggested by Breed would flow toward the police, sheriff, district attorney, fire department, and the city’s emergency management agency. 

About $100 million in extra funding compared to last year’s budget allocation would be spread across all of the departments, with the police department receiving nearly half of that. The Sheriff’s Office would receive the highest percentage increase under the proposal.

Breed is expected to release a complete budget proposal on Friday that will likely include cuts to other departments. In mid-April, the city agreed to raise wages for some employees over three years under new union contracts. Some of the mayor’s critics have already spoken out against expected trims to social services dollars. 

The Board of Supervisors must approve the budget in July.

Thursday morning’s recommendations from Breed continue the mayor’s tougher stance on crime in recent years as criticism over the city’s handling of public safety and the conditions of its streets has become a key political issue. 

The plan supplants Breed politically as a key supporter of the city’s law enforcement as she faces challengers from outside City Hall, including former Supervisor Mark Farrell and nonprofit leader Daniel Lurie, who both have made public safety a major issue in November’s race. 

Mayor London Breed in a white dress is on stage at a political event under a spotlight, waving next to "Mayor London Breed" signs and balloons.
Mayor London Breed is expected to release a budget on Friday that will attempt to plug up an $800 million deficit over the next two years. | Source: Camille Cohen for The Standard

Breed has capitalized on what appear to be falling crime figures since the start of the year, though questions remain over how much impact it will have on voters and her reelection bid.

“We have made real progress on public safety in San Francisco, but this is a moment to double down, not to let up,” said Breed in a statement on Thursday. “One of the core responsibilities of city government is to keep our residents, businesses, workers, and visitors safe, and my budget will deliver on that commitment.”

This week, the mayor’s challengers in the November contest lashed out at her budgetary record, claiming she had squandered billions of dollars when the city was in an economic upswing. Breed was able to avoid a large deficit last year through the use of reserve funds and Covid-related reimbursements. But she had to quickly change gears last fall to warn that a hole in the budget was looming.

Various factors are currently squeezing the city’s coffers, including decreasing tax revenue streams sparked by work-from-home trends and difficulties in the commercial real estate market.