Baltimore Officials Negotiate Budget Compromise

After weeks of contentious negotiations between Mayor Catherine Pugh’s administration and the Baltimore City Council, City officials announced yesterday that they have reached a budget deal which prioritizes funding schools and programs for children. The deal shifts $7.58 million in funding away from some of the Mayor’s priorities, including funding solar-powered, compacting trash cans, to councilmatic priorities – namely, the cities’ public schools. It also avoids any cuts to the Baltimore Police Department.

From the article in The Baltimore Sun:

The deal restores $2.58 million in funding for after school programs and $1.5 million in funding to Safe Streets, an anti-violence program that uses former offenders to intervene with younger criminals. That had been a priority for the council, and Pugh had vowed to find money for it earlier Wednesday.

Council leaders had talked about seeking $13 million in extra spending for the coming year, about $10 million of which would go to schools. Instead, more funding for the city’s schools will be spread across three years, an approach schools CEO Sonja Santelises told council members she preferred.

The budget negotiations had become bitter in the past week. The council can cut funding from the mayor’s proposal, but cannot spend that money elsewhere. The council had aggressively moved to use their ability to cut — beginning with a vote to strip all funding from the office that crafts the city’s budget, taken right in front of that office’s director.

The council then voted 15-0 Monday to make even deeper cuts to Pugh’s budget proposal. Council members said the preliminary vote to cut more than $26 million from Pugh’s $2.8 billion plan was designed to pressure the mayor to compromise.

Council President Bernard “Jack” Young told The Baltimore Sun that he expects the Council to take the final vote on the budget at its meeting on Monday.