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Philadelphia City Council Silently Removes $33 Million From Police Department Budget

The preliminary budget was approved by Mayor Jim Kenney in a City Council meeting held late Wednesday evening.

Philadelphia City Council reportedly removed $33 million that was set aside for the city’s Police Department Wednesday night. 

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Council also restored funding that Mayor Jim Kenney previously proposed cutting from affordable housing, arts and culture, adult education, and more in a preliminary vote on a spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year. A CBS report notes $20 million will be set aside for affordable housing, while $25 million will address poverty, health care, job training, and other disparities. 

Last week Kenney agreed to eliminate a proposed $19 million increase to the police department after receiving criticism following George Floyd’s death. Ongoing protests in Philadelphia could have also led to this decision. An additional $14 million was cut from the proposed police budget by pushing “crossing guards and public safety enforcement officers” completely out of the department. 

Philadelphia is currently facing a $749 million revenue shortfall due to the coronavirus pandemic, reports CBS. The preliminary budget includes several police reform measures including body cameras for officers, implicit bias training in addition to the use of mental health professionals for police-assisted diversion.

Mayor Kenney released the following official statement on the preliminary budget:

“It is extremely disappointing that at this time we are not able to move forward with some of the crucial investments I proposed back in March, before the pandemic and resulting economic downtown were felt in Philadelphia. And it pains me that this budget reduces some City services and eliminates hundreds of jobs. Still, we have prioritized core services, protected our most vulnerable residents, and maintained our financial flexibility to enable a quick rebound. In short, thanks to Council’s leadership, I believe this budget will accomplish the goal I laid out on May 1: we will keep all Philadelphians safe, healthy, and educated while maintaining core municipal services that our residents rely on daily. Just as importantly, the most difficult decisions were made through a lens of racial equity. The budget intentionally limits the impact of service delays or cuts on people of color, who are disproportionately impacted by the virus and already suffering from decades of systemic inequality. I look forward to final approval by City Council on June 25.”

The Council approved the changes above and voted for “preliminary approval of a budget package,” according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. A final vote for the budget is expected to be held next week at the Council’s last meeting ahead of the next fiscal year which begins on July 1.

Robyn Mowatt

Robyn Mowatt is a Staff Writer at Okayplayer where she covers culture, music, and fashion. You can see what's on her mind on Twitter at @robyn_mowatt.

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