After a brief debate over supposedly restored funding for Department of Public Health nurses at Laguna Honda, the Board of Supervisors voted 9-2 to finalize San Francisco’s $6.6 billion budget. That’s done with a big caveat—the aftermath of inevitable cuts in state funding.
When District 5 Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi (Western Addition, Alamo Square and the Haight) inquired whether all 345 certified nursing positions at Laguna were safe, Controller Ben Rosenfield told the Supes that the last minute give back of $500,000 only covered 292 nursing positions. The remaining 53 will be downgraded, to a patient care assistant, a lower-paying position.
Deputy City Attorney Sheryl Adams then advised the board to fill in the gap after the budget was passed, and the final vote was on.
Several on the board’s progressive wing said, however, that it was a bigger issue than the reclassification of nurses at Laguna Honda.
“I have very significant concerns about whether or not the mayor and the administration is acting in good faith,” District 6 Supervisor Chris Daly (South of Market, Treasure Island) said in his remarks.
“What are we going to have to do over the next year” to ensure that the budget is carried out, Daly asked referring to the first battle last week over the Southeast Mission Geratric Services Clinic.
Even after the board restored the clinic’s funds, Mayor Newsom’s office was ready to close it and send the seniors 2.5 miles away for services. Supervisors Campos, Daly and Mirkarimi showed up at a Friday rally to keep the clinic at its current location at 3905 Mission Street.
“We had to go out there to save that thing,” Daly said. The mayor’s office announced Monday that the clinic would stay open in its current location.
District 11 Supervisor John Avalos (the Excelsior and beyond) advised the board not to exploit the issue, saying that the attempted closure of the clinic was already planned by the Department of Public Health and not indicative of whether the mayor would keep his word.
Campos agreed. “What happened here was that there was a disconnect between a department” and the mayor’s office, said Campos, adding that the hoped other departments would understand and carry out the board’s $44 million in addbacks.
Supervisor Mirkarimi took the discussion on a different track, describing a need for new revenue measures to fill the city’s depleated coffers.
“We still don’t have that level of reciprocity or investment by the mayor in how we are going to raise new revenue.”
At the moment, aside from various fee increases, such as the 50-cent fare hike in Muni fares, the only proposed revenue measure is a new vehicle licensing fee.
That city fee of .85 percent would be added to the state fee of 1.15 percent to bring the overall vehicle fee to 2 percent. If the latter passes the board, residents would vote on it on November 3. If passed, it would raise $45 million in revenue the first year, according to Ted Egan, the chief economist for the Comptroller’s Office.
Egan’s report said the fee would be like a 0.5 percent rent increase.
These discussions come as Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law an $84.5 billion state budget today that eliminates a $24 billion deficit. In all the state will be spending more than 20 percent less in the coming year.
As the Chronicle reported, the governor cut $489 million in last minute vetoes including the cuts to child services. The SF Weekly reports $82.1 million in AIDS patient services cuts.
More details on how cuts to the state budget will affect San Franciscans are sure to emerge in the coming weeks.
We’re not out of the woods yet, folks.