Government budgets are moral documents. They are a true reflection of a government’s priorities and values. Budgets detail exactly how government is choosing to spend to address issues that affect everyone.
As chair of the city’s Budget and Finance Committee for four years, I took my fiduciary responsibility extremely seriously. I knew how important it was that the priorities and values that San Franciscans most cared about were reflected in our city budget. I am proud we more than doubled our budget reserves to protect against an economic downturn. We placed strong funding priorities on homelessness, public safety, housing, the cost of living, and improving the quality of life for all residents. And I am proud to have authored and passed Proposition A, which will wipe out our $4.4 billion retiree healthcare liability in 30 years.
I feel confident and secure that San Francisco is in a much better place financially than four years to go. I wish I could say the same for our federal government and its budgetary outlook.
TRUMP’S BUDGET CLAIM: ‘A BLUEPRINT TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN’
In the federal budget process, the president has the first opportunity to drive the narrative around the federal budget. Trump’s budget — referred to, of course, as “A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again” — proposes billions of dollars in spending cuts for the vast majority of federal agencies to pay for extremely large increases in military and homeland security spending. Overall, Trump’s budget results in a 1.2 percent cut in discretionary spending and does not offer any ideas or proposals regarding revenues and taxes.
Long story short, Trump’s proposed budget would bring real negative impacts for San Francisco, our residents, and our businesses. Forget about Trump’s budget threats to sanctuary cities (which has turned out to be more bark than bite); here’s how his federal proposals will affect us locally.
A BLUEPRINT TO INCREASE HOMELESS
One of the local issues front and center in residents’ minds is addressing homelessness. As much time as I’ve spent inside City Hall focusing on the issue for District 2 specifically — as well as related issues across San Francisco, including our tent encampments — homelessness is an incredibly expensive problem to tackle. Regardless, it has to be one of our local and national priorities.
Trump’s budget would cut the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) budget by more than 12 percent and would devastate our local efforts to reduce homelessness. San Francisco is one of the largest recipients of HUD funding to help house the homeless in the country — it’s close to 25 percent of our overall homelessness budget. We regularly beat other cities across the country in fiercely competitive funding proposals because of our obvious need, but also because of innovations we continue to make addressing homelessness, like the Navigation Centers. Cutting funding would be a complete disaster for San Francisco.
The proposed budget cuts would also hurt our ability to help the formerly homeless remain housed. It would be devastating for veterans, families, and low-income populations who depend on HUD assistance to secure housing. Investing in housing for the homeless and the low-income helps save the city millions in emergency, health care, and other public services.
A BLUEPRINT TO DECIMATE THE ARTS
I know many in District 2 and across San Francisco care deeply about the arts. Unfortunately, Trump’s budget would be devastating for the arts and art institutions that San Franciscans and the world revere. His budget literally proposes to eliminate the national endowments for the arts and humanities. These are vital departments that support artists, art institutions, and other vital public services throughout the country and here in San Francisco. Under Trump’s budget, our local institutions like the de Young Museum and Museum of Modern Art can forget about planned upgrades or adding more exhibitions. The San Francisco Ballet and the San Francisco Symphony may have to limit the number of shows they perform. And funding for the arts education for our children would be nonexistent.
A RECIPE FOR CLIMATE DISASTER
Perhaps the most devastating areas of Trump’s proposed budget would be to our environment and efforts to mitigate climate change. The Environmental Protection Agency would see a 31 percent reduction. Trump has called climate change a hoax. His budget treats it as such, even though it is arguably the most serious issue facing humanity. His cuts amount to an environmental nightmare.
San Francisco is a peninsula surrounded by water on three sides. Coastal cities have the most to lose with growing sea level rise caused by climate change; damages to property and infrastructure due to sea level rise is estimated to be in the multibillions. While Trump may have the luxury of being able to stick his head in the sand regarding climate change, San Francisco does not. We will have to redouble our efforts here locally to protect against the devastating impacts of climate change.
Though San Francisco has generally evolved into a one-party political town, we can always have healthy debates about campaigns, policies, and candidates. What we are realizing now every day is the old adage that “elections have consequences” — not only dictating who represents our country in the White House, but the way their budgets outline their personal priorities and that of our federal government. To date, Trump’s budget proposal has been nothing short of a disaster for the quality of life for San Francisco residents and values we share.