Walsh proposes $3.4 billion spending plan, an increase of 5 percent from last year
Mayor Martin J. Walsh submitted a $3.48 billion budget plan to the City Council Wednesday, a spending increase of five percent over the last year, including additional funding to address the city’s housing crisis and education.
The spending proposal, for the fiscal year that begins July 1, includes $1.139 billion for city schools, the most ever, including $15 million to set up universal pre-kindergarten services for Boston’s 4-year-olds, which the mayor has said will happen in five years.
The city’s plan would provide free MBTA passes to all students in Grades 7-12 and direct $2.5 million to high-need students.
The proposal would also rely on revenue from the administration’s previously announced increases in hotel and parking meter fees to fund new initiatives on homelessness and city streets and sidewalks.
“Boston’s budget sets forward a blueprint for the values that matter: creating opportunity, ensuring equity, and working towards a better Boston for all residents,” said Walsh, who presented the budget during a morning ceremony at City Hall. “I’m proud our strong fiscal management will continue to allow us to invest in the future of our city, and growing our middle class.”
The spending plan will now go before the council, which will either approve it or vote it down. The council cannot by law change any of the line items.
“My colleagues and I will be reviewing this budget in depth over the next several weeks to ensure we pass a budget that distributes resources equitably across all neighborhoods,” said Andrea Campbell, president of the City Council. “Our job is to make sure every resident in Boston feels like this budget is theirs and that they have a piece of it.”The budget includes $6.4 million for new housing initiatives, or a 45 percent increase, for a total of $125 million for housing.
That includes the production of housing, and funding for a zero-interest loan program that encourages homeowners to carve out space in their dwellings to create smaller, independent units to rent.
The spending plan also allocates funds for two Inspectional Services Department employees to monitor the short-term rental industry’s compliance with new regulations that went into effect in January.
Moreover, the budget includes $4 million for the creation of 50 units of permanent supportive housing each year for the chronically homeless, and it directs $1 million to help young people facing homelessness obtain services.
The administration says it will spend another $4 million in walkable streets investments, part of a GoBoston 2030 plan to improve transportation and foster a more walker- and biker-friendly city.
The city will spend $2 million to improve bike transportation infrastructure, for instance, byextending bike lines on major ways such as Massachusetts Avenue and Columbia Road. Another $8 million will be used to repair bridges, roads, and sidewalks. City officials said that the budget, while cushioned by Boston’s growing tax revenue base, also includes more than $24 million in savings from changes to health insurance programs and energy efficiencies.
“Boston has focused on disciplined fiscal management, controlling our liabilities, and creative revenue measures that will deliver new services this year,” said Emme Handy, Boston’s chief financial officer. “Boston’s financial health is strong and will allow us to invest in Boston’s long-term prosperity.”