Kept Promises Campaign: Phase 2!
Our Kept Promises Campaign seeks to reignite belief in our ability to transform the world by taking local, collective action and exerting pressure on the 2023 city budget. In Phase 1, we emailed Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway as she was finalizing her proposed operating budget for the City of Madison, urging her to shift funding from policing to programs that prevent police contact and create safety for our most vulnerable community members.
The mayor’s “executive budget” is now finalized and, between now and mid-November, the budget will go to the finance committee and then the council as a whole for debate, changes, and eventual approval. This is another opportunity to lift up the voices of those most vulnerable and make a passionate case for investing in the resources that meet our community’s needs.
For Phase 2 of our campaign, we seek to influence the finance committee and our city alders in two ways:
Give public testimony before the finance committee or the common council.
On Monday, October 17 and between November 15-17, Madison residents can provide public testimony on the budget. For more info on that process, as well as a sample script, click here.
Email the finance committee and your alder with these key messages.
Send written comments on the budget to email@example.com and your alder. You'll find a sample email containing all three of these key messages here.
1. There is a lot to like in this budget.
We are happy to see significant funds in this budget earmarked for things such as reproductive health, young adult employment programs, a purpose-built homeless shelter, affordable housing, and emergency management for climate change. Unrelated to this budget, we also applaud the City’s work on guaranteed income. We are excited to see the portions of the city budget that honor community, care, human rights, and racial justice.
2. We want to see more significant investment in CARES, the alternative response to emergency services.
This program, which helps prevent people who are experiencing mental health crises from being put in jail, received about $750,000 in last year’s operating budget and the mayor has proposed an additional $160,000 in funding in this year’s budget. These dollar amounts are still relatively small. The total city operating budget is more than $350 million and the police receive around $85 million of that. We can and should do better. We can and should shift significant funding from policing to programs that prevent police contact and deliver help and safety to some of our most vulnerable community members.
3. We oppose the expansion of Madison’s police force in the form of six new officers, even if these officers come at no cost to the taxpayer for three years.
When Freedom Inc published the results of their People’s Budget last summer, their conclusion read, in part: “We need grocery stores, parks, community centers, street lights, bus stops, and affordable housing; we do not need more police, we do not need differently trained police, and we do not need community outreach from police.”
Accepting federal COPS funding for six new officers will leave us on the hook to pay for them three years from now, when the City is projecting a significant budget shortfall. We cannot afford more policing when policing doesn’t meet the needs of our communities, doesn’t prevent violence and, most importantly, continues to harm the most vulnerable among us.