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Caring Futures: That City of Madison Budget...

Updated: Nov 14, 2023

Our Caring Futures Campaign seeks to reignite belief in our ability to transform the world by taking local, collective action and exerting pressure on the 2024 city and county budgets. Working together, we must remind ourselves of what we can create.

Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway’s proposed 2024 city budget is now public and, over the course of the next two weeks, it will go before Madison’s common council for debate, changes, and eventual approval. This is a crucial opportunity for lifting up the voices of those most vulnerable and making a passionate case for investing in resources that meet our community’s needs.

Please join us for Phase 2 of our campaign, where we’ll be trying to influence the common council in two ways:

Giving public testimony before the city’s common council.

On Tuesday, November 14, Madison residents can provide public testimony on the city budget. See meeting info here. See registration info here. You will select "#2 Operating Budget." (If there are a lot of people who register to testify, the testimony could take place on Wednesday, November 15 too).

Emailing city alders with these key messages.

Send written comments on the budget to the city council and/or your individual alder by noon on 11/14. You'll find a sample email containing these key messages here.

1. Supporting CARES is great. But the program deserves more funding.

The CARES program, which helps prevent people who are experiencing mental health crises from being put in jail, receives about $900,000 a year. This program is popular and it works, but last year, teams were only available to answer just over half of mental health-related calls and less than 10% of calls to check on someone’s welfare.

We spend more than $400 million per year on our city operating budget, with roughly a quarter of that going to policing. We can and should redistribute police funds to CARES and we should significantly expand staffing, staff pay, and hours of operation.

We also support the proposed amendment to invest $275,000 to expand CARES staffing to two additional community paramedics, two contracted crisis workers, and a program manager. This expansion would also transform the program into a 12 hours a day, 7 days a week service and allow contracts with other municipalities in Dane County to expand services.

If we want to undo decades of damning statistics about our racist policing and incarceration, if we want to build a future in this community for everyone, we need our common council to make a serious commitment to alternatives to policing and the status quo.

2. We want significant investments in youth and in neighborhood centers.

For every $1 invested in a safe place for young people to go, the City of Madison invests over $30 into policing. We need to substantially invest in the sites that are working for our youth and we need to increase our investment in new organizations too.

When Freedom Inc published the results of their Madison’s People Budget in 2021, their report read: “Focus group participants…noted that for our youth, there are very few safe places for congregation .… we need investment in safe places for youth.” Our young people deserve these investments. We cannot afford to spend $94 million on police but demand scarcity everywhere else.

We know that real safety begins with the love and care of our youth. We know that youth need our clear-eyed and open-hearted investment, not the ongoing harm of being policed, not youth programs led by police. We would like to see the Common Council direct, at minimum, the proposed $77,000 to neighborhood centers and non-profit support. We also believe that sum to be completely inadequate.

Send written comments on the budget to the city council and/or your individual alder by noon on 11/14. You'll find a sample email containing these key messages here.

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